A musician’s musician and, in particular, a bassist’s bassist, Victor Bailey has done countless sessions and tours since bursting onto the jazz scene in the early 1980s. From his youthful work with seminal jazz supergroup Weather Report to touring with Madonna, to recording and touring on his own, to designing his own Fender bass models, Bailey has stayed constantly busy with a wide range of musical efforts and interests.
Born in 1960 to a musical Philadelphia family, Bailey’s prodigious talent quickly became evident. He played drums in neighborhood groups throughout his early teens. When a disgruntled bassist stormed out one day, Bailey volunteered, and it was love at first sound. He soon became one of the busiest bassists in Philadelphia. Funk, big band, bebop—it didn’t matter; if you needed bass, Victor Bailey was the guy to call.
Berklee College of Music came next. Then the road. He arrived in New York City “with $100 and no place to live,” but in that first year he recorded with Sonny Rollins, Miriam Makeba, Lenny White, Sadao Watanabe, Roy Haynes and many, many others. In 1982, Bailey joined Weather Report, taking his place in a succession of bass giants—Miroslav Vitous, Alphonso Johnson and the legendary Jaco Pastorius.
Post-Weather Report, Bailey played for jazz-fusion group Steps Ahead. He toured with Madonna in the mid ’90s, and in 1997 rejoined his Weather Report mentor, Joe Zawinul, for a three-year stint in the Zawinul Syndicate. He has since toured steadily with his own band, and to date has played on more than 1,000 recordings by everyone from Michael Brecker to Mary J. Blige to LL Cool J.
Bailey’s first solo album, 1989’s Bottoms Up, is a bass classic. It was followed by 1999’s Low Blow and 2001’s That’s Right. He guided the design of the Fender Victor Bailey Jazz Bass®, introduced in 2001, and the Victor Bailey Acoustic Bass, introduced in 2005.
Visit Victor Bailey online at www.victorbailey.com.