Nathan East Goes Solo With 'Daft Funk'

Craig Rosen
·Writer

He's played with everyone from Eric Clapton and Phil Collins to Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Beyonce, as well as his own jazz combo, Fourplay. Now, after three decades of making music, bassist Nathan East has released his first solo album, appropriately titled "Nathan East."

"Daft Funk," one of the tracks on the album, is East's attempt to build on the feel-good vibes of Daft Punk's monster hit "Get Lucky." East played on that song as well as other tracks on "Random Access Memories," and joined the helmeted duo of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, Pharrell Williams, Nile Rogers and Stevie Wonder in performing the Grammy-winning tune on the Grammy Awards.

Now East has released a video clip for "Daft Funk," a track he co-wrote with guitarist Michael Thompson and that also features Ray Parker Jr. of "Ghostbusters" fame on guitar. East first met Parker Jr. 30 years ago when they were both hired to work a session recording a jingle for Hertz Rent-a-Car. Here's an exclusive premiere of the video for the track, produced by the Yamaha Entertainment Group with animation by David Bennett.

Elsewhere on the album, East called on some of his famous friends to make guest appearances, and in some cases, offers new versions of tunes that they've made famous.

East covers Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke" and "Overjoyed," the latter features Wonder playing harmonica on the track. Sara Bareilles appears on a rendition of Michael McDonald's "I Can't Let Go Now," while McDonald guests on a version of Van Morrison's "Moondance." On a cover of Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home," Clapton — who East has toured with for more than 30 years — turns up on the song he originally recorded with his short-lived late '60s band with Steve Winwood.

"When I called Eric Clapton and asked him to be on my record, he said, 'Just tell me when and where.' He used to feature me singing that when I was touring with him," East says. "It was pretty much a natural celebration of music. It's called a solo album, but I wanted it to be a celebration of music I've made with my friends, people who have inspired me over the years."

There are some family ties on the album as well. "101 Eastbound," co-written by his brother Marcel, is the first song the pair wrote that was recorded by Fourplay more than 20 years ago, while his 13-year-old son, Noah, plays piano on a cover of the Beatles' "Yesterday."

"Music is in the family for sure," East says. "Noah came by the studio and played 'Yesterday' for me and my producer Chris Gero, and Chris just said, 'That has to go on the record.' To go into the studio when you're just 13 years old and do that — I'm ever so proud of him."

You might be wondering why East waited three decades to make his solo bow. As he explains, he's been really busy. "It's one of the those things that I aspired to do, but I just didn't have the time, because I'm a member of so many bands — the Clapton band, my own group, Fourplay, and Toto," he says during a phone interview from Japan, where he's on tour with Toto. "When I did get a little time I decided it's now or never. It's nice at this stage in my career to do something I've never done and make a statement with some ideas that have been in my head for a while."

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