Tal Wilkenfeld

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Tal Wilkenfeld
Tal Wilkenfeld.jpg
Wilkenfeld performing in November 2008
Background information
Birth nameTal Wilkenfeld
Born (1986-12-02) 2 December 1986 (age 31)
Sydney, Australia
Genresrock, blues rock, folk, indie rock, funk, Jazz, jazz fusion, folk rock
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, bandleader
InstrumentsBass, guitar, vocals
Years active2002-present
Associated actsJeff Beck, Jackson Browne, The Allman Brothers Band, Prince, The Who, Mick Jagger, Herbie Hancock, Eric Clapton, Chick Corea, Toto, Vinnie Colaiuta, Wayne Krantz, Ryan Adams, Blake Mills

Tal Wilkenfeld (born 2 December 1986) is an Australian bassist, singer, songwriter and guitarist who has performed alongside artists including Jeff Beck, Prince, Eric Clapton, Herbie Hancock and Mick Jagger. She is also a bandleader of her own eponymous bands. In her earlier work, she was backed by musicians such as Wayne Krantz and Vinnie Colaiuta. In Wilkenfeld's current band, she sings, plays guitar and bass, and opened for The Who on the North American part of The Who Hits 50! tour in 2016.[1] Wilkenfeld's single "Corner Painter" features Blake Mills and Benmont Tench.[2]

In 2008, Wilkenfeld was voted "The Year's Most Exciting New Player" in a 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.


Early life[edit]

Wilkenfeld began playing guitar when she was fourteen years old. Two years later in 2002, she dropped out of high school, in Sydney, saying that "it just wasn't going to work for me",[3] and emigrated to the United States where she studied electric guitar. Within a year she had switched to electric bass.[4] Wilkenfeld graduated from Los Angeles Music Academy College of Music in 2004. After a few months she accepted an endorsement from Sadowsky Guitars, and devoted herself to forming a band and composing songs of her own. In 2004, at age 18, she 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."[5]

Career beginnings[edit]

In 2006 while playing at one of the clubs in New York, Wilkenfeld met some members of The Allman Brothers Band. "Oteil Burbridge heard me first, and then Derek Trucks heard me. And those two then just encouraged me to go on with them at the Beacon Theater."[6] It was her first time on the big 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."[6] The jam lasted around 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 when she was 20 years old.[7] Wilkenfeld composed, produced, arranged and played bass on seven intricate tunes with Wayne Krantz, Geoffrey Keezer, saxophonist Seamus Blake and Keith Carlock.

Professional bass playing career[edit]

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. She was elated to be selected to accompany him on his Australian tour[3] in early 2007, along with Frank Gambale and Antonio Sanchez. A few months later she joined Jeff Beck, Vinnie Colaiuta and Jason Rebello for Jeff Beck's summer European tour. After returning from Europe 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 Jeff Beck and the other band members for a week-long residency at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London. Jeff Beck selected that venue to record a new DVD and CD, with guests that included Eric Clapton, Joss Stone and Imogen Heap. It was recorded, filmed, and then 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 wrapped up 2007 with two standing-room-only Greenwich Village gigs with Krantz.

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

In 2008 Wilkenfeld accompanied Krantz on gigs in Los Angeles before embarking on a tour of Australia with Krantz and Carlock in the fall - a reunion of the core band that appeared on Transformation. At the conclusion of the tour, Krantz and Carlock, along with 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 concert 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.

At the start of 2009, Wilkenfeld toured Australia and Japan with Beck, who commented in an interview; "It's interesting to have some amazing players in my band like Tal, who is about, you know half, a quarter of the age of either Vinnie or me. She's a genius. She will pick up mistakes that we, even Vinnie and I, miss. So she's a great anchor as well."[8] Weeks later they went on to tour in the United States, beginning at 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". Beck recalled:

"When I was inducted we were going to have Jimmy Page come on and play '(Beck's) Bolero'. But I didn't think it would be right for him to be playing rhythm guitar all the way through that one number. Then the phone rang and it was Tal Wilkenfeld, my then bass player. She was on the way down in the elevator and told me we should play "Immigrant Song". We were going on in ten minutes and had no time to rehearse. She said 'Oh, when you stop in the middle of 'Bolero', when the rhythm changes, we'll kick in to "Immigrant Song"'. "That's what I like - right on the hoof. Nobody knew, the lighting and sound guys didn't know, the organizers didn't know. I just grabbed the microphone and shouted, 'Jimmy Paaaage' and went straight into the song. I loved that. That's what you call dangerous, that's living on your reflexes."[9]

The DVD including this performance, Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame: Legends was released in 2010. In the few weeks' break between touring Japan and America, Wilkenfeld performed with The Roots on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon as their first musical guest. Wilkenfeld then embarked on Beck's summer tour through Europe, Canada and the UK. During the UK run David Gilmour sat in with the group during a special 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 guests 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, featuring these performances along with "Big Block", "A Day in the Life" and "Freeway Jam", was released in 2010. In addition Wilkenfeld was featured on four tracks on Beck's new album Emotion & Commotion, leading Bass Player magazine to write; "Wilkenfeld powers four tracks with present, prescient parts; this includes "Serene," with her ear-grabbing fills and brief but bright solo."

Wilkenfeld began working with Prince in 2009. In a recent interview, Wilkenfeld shared memories of her time with Prince: "When we were recording, Prince gave me the freedom to express my own voice on his songs, rather than spelling out how or what he wanted me to play. On quite a few of the tracks, he created a framework for my bass playing to complement what he was doing, almost as a secondary vocalist. He’d point to me and say, “Bass solo!” or, “Play a bass melody!” I felt honored and privileged that he wasn’t looking for me to be a carbon copy of him." [10] Prince premiered his song "Hot Summer" featuring Wilkenfeld on Minnesota public radio station 89.3 on June 7, 2010, his 52nd birthday. [11]

In 2010, Wilkenfeld contributed to Herbie Hancock's The Imagine Project on "A Change is Gonna Come" and "Don't Give Up", to Macy Gray's The Sellout on "That Man" and to Lee Ritenour's Six String Theory on "68", "In your Dreams", "Give Me One Reason" and Guthrie Govan's song "Fives", which features a solo by Wilkenfeld. On 23 May 2010 she appeared in The Baked Potato's 40th anniversary show at the Ford Amphitheater with Steve Lukather's band and in June and July accompanied Herbie Hancock on dates across the U.S., Canada and Europe to promote the new release on which she had played. This short tour included a special show at Carnegie Hall to celebrate Hancock's 70th birthday.

On 24 September 2011, Wilkenfeld accompanied Steven Tyler and Jeff Beck at the iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Sting also accompanied Steven on a song during the same show. In Sting's 2017 interview with Bass Player he recalled: "With Tal it was very funny; we were doing an event in Las Vegas, and we were playing an Aerosmith song—I forget the song—and it was kind of a complicated bass line. And Tal came over and said, 'Sting, it’s not quite the way you’re playing it' [laughs]. 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." [12]

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

In 2013, Wilkenfeld joined alt-country singer-songwriter Ryan Adams as a collaborator on his studio album, Ryan Adams (2014). She also contributed to two tracks on the Toto album Toto XIV[13] and co-wrote a song called "Running Whiskey" with Billy Gibbons; the song was released in 2016 by Supersonic Blues Machine.[14]

In 2018, Wilkenfeld performed with Bob Weir at the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara [15]

Wilkenfeld has recorded on projects with Ringo Starr, Brian Wilson, Toto, Todd Rundgren, Macy Gray, Dr. John, Trevor Rabin, Jackson Browne, Joe Walsh and others.

Wilkenfeld has also performed with Rod Stewart, John Mayer, Sting, Ben Harper, David Gilmour, Pharrell, Buddy Guy, Billy Gibbons, Hiram Bullock, Susan Tedeschi, and Hans Zimmer.

Solo career[edit]

On 3 March 2016 Wilkenfeld released a single called "Corner Painter" featuring Blake Mills and Benmont Tench from her upcoming solo album.[16] On 15 March 2017 Judd Apatow featured "Corner Painter" on Season two of his Netflix series Love. [17]

Wilkenfeld opened for The Who on the North American part of The Who Hits 50! tour starting in Detroit, Michigan on 27 February 2016. Wilkenfeld also headlined her own shows scheduled on days between The Who concerts starting in Toronto, Ontario on 29 February 2016.[18] When Jeff Beck was interviewed about Wilkenfeld's transition to solo artist, he said “She’s quite an incredible musician, isn’t she?” Jeff Beck marveled to Digital Trends after a recent private listening session in New York. “She can sing, write songs, and play guitar too. She does it all.” [19]

She created a PledgeMusic page seeking help funding her upcoming solo album. The album has had its announced release date postponed due to the signing of a record deal [20]


Wilkenfeld endorses Sadowsky bass guitars and strings[21] as well as EBS Professional Bass Equipment amplifiers, cabinets, and effect pedals.[22]


Solo artist[edit]

With Jeff Beck[edit]

With Herbie Hancock[edit]

With Macy Gray[edit]

With Jackson Browne[edit]

With Trevor Rabin[edit]

With Wayne Krantz[edit]

With Lee Ritenour[edit]

With Steve Lukather[edit]

With Ryan Adams[edit]

With Toto[edit]

With Todd Rundgren[edit]

With Keith Urban[edit]


  1. ^ "Tal Wilkenfeld 2016 tour". bassplayer. NewBay Media. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  2. ^ "Meet the Who's Opening Act: Bass Sensation Tal Wilkenfeld". rollingstone. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  3. ^ a b McCulley, Jerry 2 August 2008 Meet Tal Wilkenfeld, Jeff Beck’s Young Aussie Bass Prodigy Archived 6 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Paul Bibby (28 April 2007). "Ace of bass just doing her thing". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  5. ^ Derrough, Leslie Michele. "BASS PRODIGY TAL WILKENFELD GEARS UP OPENING FOR THE WHO". GlideMagazine. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  6. ^ a b Shelter, Matthew. "Tal Wilkenfeld Paints The Corners". jambands. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  7. ^ "Tal Wilkenfeld official website". Talwilkenfeld.com. Retrieved 2011-09-14.
  8. ^ Fitzsimmons, Hamish 20 January 2009 Rocker Jeff Beck returns to Australia
  9. ^ Jones, Josh 27 April 2010 Jeff Beck on Living Dangerously
  10. ^ "Prince: Requiem for a Bass Hero". bassplayermagazine. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  11. ^ "Hot Summer". PrinceVault. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
  12. ^ 7 April 2017 [1]
  13. ^ "Toto XIV (2015)". Steve Lukather official website. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
  14. ^ "Running Whiskey - Supersonic Blues Machine". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  15. ^ "Bob Weir & Wolf Bros Welcome Tal Wilkenfeld & Cover Donovan In Santa Barbara". JamBase. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  16. ^ "Meet the Who's Opening Act: Bass Sensation Tal Wilkenfeld". rollingstone. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  17. ^ 15 March 2017 Netflix show LOVE season two’s music hits the mark
  18. ^ "Tal Wilkenfeld 2016 tour". bassplayer. NewBay Media. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  20. ^ "PlegeMusic discussion page for Tal Wilkenfeld solo album". PledgeMusic. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  21. ^ "Featured Artists - Tal Wilkenfeld". Sadowsky Guitars. Archived from the original on 30 March 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2007.
  22. ^ "EBS Artists". EBS Sweden AB. Archived from the original on 2010-08-12. Retrieved 2012-06-07.

External links[edit]