Tal Wilkenfeld

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Tal Wilkenfeld
Tal Wilkenfeld.jpg
Wilkenfeld performing in November 2008
Background information
Born (1986-12-02) 2 December 1986 (age 35)
Sydney, Australia
Genres Rock, blues rock, folk, indie rock, funk, jazz, jazz fusion, folk rock
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, bandleader
InstrumentsBass guitar, guitar, vocals
Years active2002–present
Labels BMG
Associated acts Jeff Beck, Prince, The Allman Brothers Band, Blake Mills, Mick Jagger, Jackson Browne, The Who, Herbie Hancock, Eric Clapton, Chick Corea, Toto, Vinnie Colaiuta, Wayne Krantz, Ryan Adams
Website www.talwilkenfeld.com

Tal Wilkenfeld (born 2 December 1986) is an Australian singer, songwriter, bassist and guitarist whose career began performing alongside artists including Jeff Beck, Prince, Eric Clapton, Herbie Hancock and Mick Jagger. In 2008, Wilkenfeld was voted "The Year's Most Exciting New Player" by Bass Player magazine readers' choice poll. In 2013, Wilkenfeld was awarded Bass Player Magazine's "Young Gun Award" by Don Was, where she performed "Chelsea Hotel" by Leonard Cohen.


Wilkenfeld is a bandleader of her own eponymous bands in which she sings, plays bass and guitar. In her earlier work, she was backed by musicians such as Wayne Krantz and Vinnie Colaiuta. She opened for The Who on the North American part of The Who Hits 50! tour in 2016. [1] In 2016, Wilkenfeld released a single entitled "Corner Painter" which features Blake Mills and Benmont Tench. [2] Also in 2016, Rolling Stone stated that Wilkenfeld was "working on new music that sees her evolving from an instrumental prodigy into a formidable singer-songwriter." [3] On 15 March 2019, Wilkenfeld released her vocal debut album Love Remains, [4] which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Heatseeker charts on the first week of its release. [5] Love Remains has been highly praised by the press and featured in Rolling Stone, Relix , Paste , Billboard and Forbes . Rolling Stone described Wilkenfeld's vocal debut as "ten dense, riff-heavy tracks with brazen, introspective lyrics—prove her songwriting abilities." [6] Wilkenfeld has also been a guest on popular podcasts including WTF with Marc Maron and Bill Burr's Monday Morning Podcast .

Wilkenfeld has recorded on projects with Ringo Starr, Brian Wilson, Toto, Todd Rundgren, Macy Gray, Dr. John, Trevor Rabin, Jackson Browne, Joe Walsh, Rod Stewart, John Mayer, Sting, Ben Harper, David Gilmour, Pharrell, Buddy Guy, Billy Gibbons, Lee Ritenour, Hiram Bullock, Susan Tedeschi, and Hans Zimmer.


Early life

Wilkenfeld began playing guitar in 2000 when she was 14 years old. Two years later, she dropped out of high school in Sydney [7] and emigrated to the United States where she studied electric guitar. Within a year, Wilkenfeld switched to electric bass. [8] Wilkenfeld graduated from Los Angeles Music Academy College of Music in 2004. She accepted an endorsement from Sadowsky Guitars and devoted herself to forming a band and composing songs. At the age of 18, Wilkenfeld moved to New York City and began making a name for herself in New York's jazz clubs. "I was actually walking around to like several clubs every night till the sun came up, sitting in at jazz clubs just learning. I was really the only one that would go into these clubs with an electric bass, because these were like, you know, places that played exclusively bebop. So I got some funny looks for quite some time. But it was a priceless education." [9]

Career beginnings

While playing at a club in New York in 2006, Wilkenfeld met some members of The Allman Brothers Band. She credits Oteil Burbridge and Derek Trucks with encouraging her to join them at the Beacon Theater, [10] her first time on a large stage. "Oteil just handed me his bass at the beginning of "Elizabeth Reed" and literally just ran into the audience and was watching me in the audience, smiling." [10] The jam lasted about 40 minutes and Wilkenfeld sent a recording of the performance to Jeff Beck when she auditioned for his band.

In 2006, months after performing as a guest with The Allman Brothers Band, Wilkenfeld recorded her debut album, Transformation, in just two days. [11] Wilkenfeld composed, produced, arranged and played bass on seven songs with Wayne Krantz, Geoffrey Keezer, saxophonist Seamus Blake and Keith Carlock.

Professional bass playing career

Wilkenfeld with Jeff Beck during his Jazz a Juan tour, 15 July 2009 Tal Wilkenfeld 2009 by Guillaume Laurent.jpg
Wilkenfeld with Jeff Beck during his Jazz à Juan tour, 15 July 2009

Upon learning that Chick Corea was seeking a bassist for an upcoming tour, Wilkenfeld sent him demos of Transformation and was selected for his 2007 Australian tour, [7] with Frank Gambale and Antonio Sanchez. A few months later, she joined Jeff Beck, Vinnie Colaiuta and Jason Rebello for Beck's summer European tour. The group completed their tour at Eric Clapton's 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival in Chicago, Illinois, performing to a sell-out crowd of approximately 40,000 people. By November 2007, Wilkenfeld had rejoined Beck and the other band members for a week-long residency at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London. Beck selected that venue to record a new DVD and CD, with guests that included Clapton, Joss Stone and Imogen Heap. It was recorded, filmed, and released as Live at Ronnie Scott's . On the same trip, Wilkenfeld joined Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, singer Corinne Bailey Rae and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta on a session filmed for the A&E series, Live from Abbey Road . Wilkenfeld completed 2007 with two standing-room-only Greenwich Village shows with Krantz.

The Tal Wilkenfeld Trio November 2008
L to R: Krantz, Carlock, Wilkenfeld Wayne Krantz, Keith Carlock & Tal Wilkenfeld.jpg
The Tal Wilkenfeld Trio November 2008
L to R: Krantz, Carlock, Wilkenfeld
Beck with Wilkenfeld during her tour with Beck at the 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival in Chicago, Illinois Jeff Beck & Tal Wilkenfeld.jpg
Beck with Wilkenfeld during her tour with Beck at the 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival in Chicago, Illinois

In 2008, Wilkenfeld accompanied Krantz at shows in Los Angeles before an Australian tour with Krantz and Carlock, a reunion of the band that appeared on Transformation. At the conclusion of the tour, Krantz, Carlock and John Beasley backed Wilkenfeld during her headlining set for Bass Player LIVE! 2008 in Los Angeles. In July, she accompanied Jeff Beck in a tribute to George Martin in Los Angeles. She appeared at Warren Haynes's 20th Annual Christmas Jam, reuniting and performing with The Allman Brothers Band and guesting with Gov't Mule, Ivan Neville and Robben Ford.

In 2008, Wilkenfeld received a phone call from Prince. She was surprised that his first words to her were, “Do you like the drum rolls of Jack DeJohnette?” [12]

Prince brought Wilkenfeld to parties at his Los Angeles home. Sometimes he and his band played and she was their lone audience member. [12]

Months later, Prince called Wilkenfeld from Minneapolis and said that he wanted to put together a trio with her, asking Wilkenfeld to find them a drummer. They settled on Chris Coleman, who had been playing with Chaka Khan and Rachelle Farrell, and Prince flew the two musicians to Paisley Park for the first time in late 2009. [12] In March 2010, Wilkenfeld travelled to Paisley Park and began to improvise and play chords on instruction from Prince. 'I just made everything up; he gave me no direction about what to play beyond a chord here or there. It was just do your thing,’ Wilkenfeld explained. 'I never heard the lyrics, never knew what the songs were about, never heard the melody. It was like we had to be psychic when we were playing,' she added. The result of this work culminated in Welcome 2 America - Prince's 2021 album and first posthumous release with previously unreleased music, which features Wilkenfeld on bass on 10 of the 12 tracks, recorded in 2010.[ citation needed ]

Prince told Wilkenfeld that he was feeling inspired by 'the Jimi Hendrix Experience'. “Even though it later evolved into having keyboards and background vocals,” says Wilkenfeld, “the album was essentially recorded as a trio, so it has that raw vibe.” [12] Welcome 2 America” was constructed in discrete stages with different cohorts of musicians. Prince started out recording instrumental tracks — without vocals or lyrics — live in the studio with Wilkenfeld on bass and Chris Coleman on drums. Then Prince worked with singers Shelby J. (for Johnson), Liv Warfield and Elisa Fiorillo, sharing leads and harmonies with them. Morris Hayes added keyboards and simulated string and horn arrangements, earning credit as co-producer for six of the album’s 12 songs. [13] Prince also had two listening parties around May 2010 after we tracked. He was so excited to be playing us fully mixed tracks. He was definitely into the music. People were pulling up in limos dressed in Grammy attire.” said Wilkenfeld [14] It is unknown why the album was shelved for 11 years. Even a decade later, those who worked on the album still don't totally understand why. "That was a surprise to me," Morris Hayes says. If he had to guess, Prince might've axed it because not all of the album's collaborators (including Wilkenfeld) were able to join Prince on the road. [15] "I only surmised that if he couldn't put this album out with the crew he created it with, then I think it was a big mitigating factor in why it hit the shelf," Hayes says. "Prince had this thing where he would shoot first and ask questions later. And if he didn't have commitment from all those people that we could go out and make a big splash – with a new band, a new Prince – then the balloon would just go down. If all those things weren't aligned, that would cause that (music) to go in the vault." [15] After the recording sessions and listening parties, Wilkenfeld remembers: “The last time I saw him, I have a vivid memory of him sitting at his desk, and when I walked in he thanked me. Prince said, ‘I’ve been searching for this sound for years, and I’m really grateful that you helped me find it.’ It was the sweetest thing, and I’m so sad that that’s my last memory” [16] It was the last time Wilkenfeld saw the music icon alive.[ citation needed ]

Prince premiered his song "Hot Summer" featuring Wilkenfeld on Minnesota public radio station 89.3 on 7 June 2010. [17]

In 2009, Wilkenfeld toured Australia and Japan with Jeff Beck, who referred to her as a genius, saying "She will pick up mistakes that...Vinnie and I miss. So, she's a great anchor as well." [18] Weeks later, the group toured the United States, beginning with Beck's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where they played "Beck's Bolero" and were joined by Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page on "Immigrant Song".

A DVD of this performance, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Legends, was released in 2010.

Between touring Japan and America, Wilkenfeld performed with The Roots on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon as their first musical guest, after which she joined Jeff Beck's summer tour through Europe, Canada and the UK. Pink Floyd's David Gilmour sat in with the group during a performance at the Royal Albert Hall.

In October 2009, Wilkenfeld reunited with Beck at Madison Square Garden for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 25th Anniversary two-night concert. The set included Buddy Guy on "Let Me Love You Baby", Sting singing "People Get Ready" and Billy Gibbons on "Foxey Lady". The 25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concerts DVD, which also included "Big Block", "A Day in the Life" and "Freeway Jam", was released in 2010.

Wilkenfeld was featured on four tracks on Jeff Beck's album Emotion & Commotion.

In 2010, Wilkenfeld contributed to Hancock's The Imagine Project on "A Change is Gonna Come" and "Don't Give Up" She played on Macy Gray's The Sellout on "That Man" and on Lee Ritenour's Six String Theory on "68", "In your Dreams", "Give Me One Reason" and Guthrie Govan's song "Fives".

In 2010, Wilkenfeld appeared in The Baked Potato's 40th anniversary show at the Ford Amphitheater with Steve Lukather's band, and accompanied Hancock across the US, Canada and Europe to promote a new release on which she had played. The tour included a show at Carnegie Hall to celebrate Hancock's 70th birthday.

In September 2011, Wilkenfeld accompanied Steven Tyler and Jeff Beck at the iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Sting, who also accompanied Tyler on a song, recalled in a 2017 interview with Bass Player that Wilkenfeld had corrected him on an Aerosmith song. "I really respected her courage to come up to me and teach me the right way to play the part, and I was very grateful. She's an amazing bassist with great ears." [19]

On 19 May 2012, Wilkenfeld accompanied Jeff Beck and Mick Jagger on Saturday Night Live . [20]

In 2013, Wilkenfeld joined alt-country singer-songwriter Ryan Adams as a collaborator on his studio album, Ryan Adams (2014). She contributed to two tracks on the Toto album Toto XIV, [21] and co-wrote a song called "Running Whiskey" with ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons. "Running Whiskey" was released in 2016 by Supersonic Blues Machine. [22]

In 2018, Wilkenfeld performed with Bob Weir and his band Wolf Bros at the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara [23] and the Beacon Theatre in New York. [24]

Wilkenfeld was featured on the cover of Bass Player magazine's March 2019 issue. On 22 July 2019, Wilkenfeld appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live , performing "Killing Me" and "Corner Painter".

Solo career

On 3 March 2016, Wilkenfeld released a single called "Corner Painter" featuring Blake Mills and Benmont Tench. [2] On 15 March 2017, Judd Apatow featured "Corner Painter" on season two of his Netflix series Love . [25]

Wilkenfeld opened for The Who on the North American part of The Who Hits 50! tour, starting in Detroit on 27 February 2016. Wilkenfeld headlined of her own between The Who dates, starting in Toronto, Ontario on 29 February 2016. [1]

On 14 December 2018, Wilkenfeld released a song entitled "Under The Sun." In 2019, Billboard magazine premiered her new single "Killing Me". Wilkenfeld released her debut vocal album Love Remains on 15 March 2019. The album includes Blake Mills on guitar, Benmont Tench on keyboards and Jackson Browne as executive producer. [4] Love Remains reached No. 1 on the Billboard Heatseeker charts on the first week of its release. [5]

Personal life

Wilkenfeld is Jewish. [26]

Wilkenfeld states that standup comedy is one of her favorite forms of entertainment. [27] She has appeared on several comedians podcasts promoting her album Love Remains, from Marc Maron, Bill Burr and twice on Jeff Ross's podcast, once with Dave Attell. She co-wrote and produced a song for Marc Maron named "New Boots" for a movie titled Sword of Trust .

Wilkenfeld practices meditation. "I’m very focused on my spiritual, emotional, and mental growth" she told Rolling Stone . "I meditate every day, and I just want to continue to evolve as a person, and I hope that my music will reflect that." [28] She elaborated with Popdust, stating that "Meditating helps creativity flow. The more you meditate the more you realize that everything is a meditation. The silence is important." [29] When Bass Player magazine asked about her time working with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, Wilkenfeld said: "It's comforting to know that two of the greatest musicians alive are just as focused on their spiritual paths as their musical paths, and for them, they're one and the same. I remember standing at the side of the stage a few minutes before I was going to play with Wayne, and he came up to me and said, 'Play eternity!' Leonard Cohen, who I was lucky enough to spend time with, was also deeply focused on his spiritual journey. Self-inquiry is a very important part of my life, and it's reassuring to meet other like-minded people." [30]


Wilkenfeld endorses Sadowsky bass guitars and strings, [31] EBS Professional Bass Equipment amplifiers, cabinets, and effect pedals. [32]


Solo artist


With Jeff Beck

With Herbie Hancock

With Macy Gray

With Lee Ritenour

With Jackson Browne

With Trevor Rabin

With Wayne Krantz

With Steve Lukather

With Ryan Adams

With Toto

With Todd Rundgren

With Keith Urban

With Prince

DVD and Blu-ray

With Jeff Beck

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