“When I first came to New York, it was to join a band called Dreams. It featured both Michael and Randy Brecker, Billy Cobham on drums, Don Grolnick on keys and Bob Mann on guitar. These guys are giants in the New York music-making world.
“I was coming to replace another bass player, and lucky for me I’d never heard of the guy, ‘cause his name was Chuck Rainey. I came in from Miami, this cocky kid – ‘Sure, I’ll replace anybody. I’m that good!’ Had I known, I wouldn’t have come up. In this case, my ignorance was truly bliss in this situation.
“I ended up getting the gig, so I’m all secure – yeah, I’m a badass, blah blah blah. I’m staying at Michael Brecker’s house ‘cause I didn’t have my own apartment yet. He would listen to this station called WLIB – they played all the great soul music. So I’m in the kitchen listening to the radio. Mike’s in the other room practicing, which he does 24 hours a day; I’m eating, which I do 24 hours a day. This Roberta Flack song Reverend Lee comes on the radio, and it’s, like, all bass. It was unbelievable.
“I called out to Michael, and he said, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s Chuck... the guy you replaced.’ ‘What?!... What am I doing here?’ I never heard anything like what Chuck was doing. He was innovating, playing all of these harmonic things in the key of A that I’ve used on hundreds of tracks since, but at the time it was all new to me. I wanted to be a studio guy, and Chuck showed you what you could do and still not get fired.
“This song is off Roberta’s album Chapter Two, which I promptly bought. And after that, I would buy anything that had Chuck’s credit listed. I got everything. But it was that first song, Reverend Lee, that blows me away.”