-Paul Schaffer, on Hiram Bullock
In a perfect world, Hiram Bullock would be a household name.
From the mid-'70s until his death in 2005, Bullock was an active session musician who straddled the jazz-funk-pop/rock genres.
Bullock's credits included work with notable jazz figures Art Farmer, Dizzy Gillespie, Carla Bley, Jaco Pastorius, and David Sanborn, with whom he had a long-standing collaboration.
Bullock supported pop acts Burt Bacharach, Kenny Loggins, and Paul Simon, and played on some really big albums: "Gaucho" by Steely Dan; Billy Joel's "The Stranger"; and the soundtracks to "A Star is Born" and "The Blues Brothers." He also did the solo on Sting's cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing."
In addition, Bullock was one of the original members of David Letterman's band, and had several releases of his own.
In the video below, Bullock supports Bootsy Collins on David Sanborn's show, "Night Music," at some point in '89-'90. There's much to love about this performance, including (but not limited to) Bootzilla's regal blue costume and star-shaped bass, and the synchronous booty-shaking of the many people onstage. A friend I forwarded this video to echoed my thoughts when she said, "I want to be in that room."
Bullock's solo comes in at 3:34, and right away you know he means business. The opening pick slide is lascivious - in the best sense - and seamlessly morphs into a sweet, sweet bend joined to an ecstatic expression that could come off as overblown in lesser hands, but fits perfectly here.
Many rock solos in '89-'90 were played by twenty-something men who crammed as many notes as possible into an agreed-upon number of measures. This technique-for-technique's-sake trap too often buried the melody/theme of the song, rather than supporting it.
By contrast, this solo is pure blues feeling. Hiram builds on the deep groove and makes every note count - and barely looks at his hands as he does it.
After an explosive climax, Hiram steps back into the shadows, once again invisible.
Such is the life of the sideman.
**Click here for "Great Guitar Solos, #1: Eddie Hazel (of Funkadelic) and here for "Great Guitar Solos, #2: Frank Zappa
p.s. for more details about Hiram Bullock and the above video, see Jon Leon Guerrero's comments below