Denny Lalouette is possibly one of the greatest, and one of the most prolific, bass players in the history of South African music, whose precise, but warm sound demands listening.
Born in Mauritius (full name Marie Joseph Marcel Denis Lalouette1), but brought up in Durban, South Africa, Denny started making music as the drummer in the Durban Boys High marching band. Switching to bass soon thereafter, he played many gigs at some of Durban's funkiest clubs.
Having played with influential bands like Razor and Theta, Denny came into his own as a session musician, and was one of the most in-demand bassists during the 80's and 90's. He won the SABC Session Musician of the Year award in 19872.
Any list of the number of bands Denny has worked in, or the number of albums he has appeared on, will be far from complete. Sites like The All-Music Guide only shows records for him as far back as 1995, a problem more to do with the relative unimportance of South Africa's music industry than any bad research; but Denny himself would be hard-pressed to recall all of his work. He puts the number of albums close to 2000, and won't even hazard a guess at the number of artists he has worked with.
Having seen Denny play live on many occasions, it is difficult not to be struck by the professionalism he shows, and the respect which other musicians show him. Able to play almost any piece of music, he is both fun and exciting to hear. But the real pleasure in Denny's playing lies in his mastery of jazz, in his precision, timing and passion for the sound. A fan of Weather Report and Jaco Pistorius, Denny glides as effortlessly from style to style as he does over the fretboard.
He has played alongside Bobby Louw, Bill Flynn, P.J. Powers, Louis Mhlanga, Kevin Kruger, Basi Mahlasela, Avzal Ismael, Mouritz Lotz, and steel drum maestro Andy Narell. He has worked in bands like the Rock Rebels (their incredible version of Hocus Pocus, complete with acapella Portugese vocals, is a landmark in cover versions), Blue Velvet, Light Years and The Latin Fire Band, and at events such as The North Sea Jazz Festival.
Now also in demand as an arranger and producer, Denny also runs a recording studio called Black Box Studios in Johannesburg, where he lives and works. He used a Warwick bass until recently, but now uses a Yamaha 6-string, as well as Ampeg amplifiers and a Pod synthesizer. He has a keen interest in both technology and electronic music, which he makes when he thinks nobody is watching. He is married and has two daughters, one of whom is herself an acomplished singer.
An incomplete listing from The All Music Guide3:
- Mike Faure - Voice of the Wind (1995)
- Paul Hanmer - Trains to Taung (2001)
- Paul Hanmer - Playola (2002)
- David Hewitt - African Tapestry (1991)
- Louis Mahlanga - Shamwari (2001)
- Andy Narell - Live in South Africa (2002)
- Kate Normington - Mother's Daughter (2002)
- Wessel Van Rensberg - Song for E (2002)
- Various Artists - Smooth Africa (2000)
1: Spelling may be incorrect. I have only ever heard it spoken
2: If I recall correctly
/msg me with any omissions or corrections