The former Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner has been among the most visible bassists in mainstream popular music for decades and counting – aside from his world-class career as a composer and a singer.
The musician who named himself for a small sharp-pointed organ at the end of the abdomen of bees capable of inflicting a painful or dangerous wound by injecting poison is a master innovator in the realms of rock, jazz, reggae, and world music.
Strictly speaking of his role as bassist, Sting’s renowned body of work in The Police is an exemplary study in rhythm and harmony: he adroitly deviated from the customary root note voice leading, and his buoyant phrasing and colorful counterpoint enabled his equally ingenious mates Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland to further excel at their respective instruments.
With reference to Mr. Sumner’s outstanding solo career, I greatly admire the fact that on his much heralded debut The Dream of the Blue Turtles (1985), Sting surrendered the bass chair to then young-lion Darryl Jones fresh out of Miles Davis’ amazing crossover jazz fusion ensemble who further enhanced Mr. Sumner’s brilliant compositions with his jazz, funk, and rhythm and blues expertise.
Sting now plies his craft with an ancient Telecaster bass, yet in years past he continually experimented with several basses including Ibanez, Spector, Steinberger, and various Fenders with great success -proving once again that the artistry is in the player not the instrument!