Eric Clapton. Stevie Wonder. Daft Punk. Justin Timberlake. Vince Gill. Phil Collins. Michael Jackson. Beyonce. George Harrison. As you read through the lists of artists with whom Nathan East has collaborated or albums on which he has worked, it begins to sound more and more like a list of all the most important artists in music. East’s session and performance work as a bassist is completely unparalleled, a talent which puts him on the speed dial of artists like Clapton, whose band he was in for many years. East has played on over 2,000 albums.
This year, at the thirty-year-long urgings of his talented roster of friends, East released his first solo album. The track listing, unsurprisingly, is absolutely insane. Playing on records of the biggest talents alive no doubt earns you a certain number of brownie points when it comes to recording your own work, but in East’s case, involvement is more than favor-calling, with his A-list colleagues practically begging to be included (Michael McDonald, Sara Bareilles, and Eric Clapton among the notable featured artists). Their efforts met with reward, as the eponymous album, released this March, was nominated for a 2015 Grammy Award in the Best Contemporary Instrumental Album category. The album was also praised by Pat Metheney, whose song “Letter From Home” East recorded for the album.
Yamaha Entertainment Group created a film surrounding the creation of the album, detailing East’s incredible story and tremendous accomplishments. Not only is East immensely talented and accomplished, but he’s also modest; it may seem a cliché, but both in the film and at the Q&A with him and producer Chris Gero following the Nashville screening, East was overwhelmingly down to earth, funny, and humble. While with his successes he’d seem a frustrating competitor, but he’s incredibly likeable with no sense of ego, focusing on creating undeniably amazing music.