It isn’t unusual for bass player Steve Kim to get calls from jazz musicians across the country to come join a gig or sit in on a recording session.
But, Kim says, perhaps his highest profile request right here at home from a hometown boy at a hometown venue. And it wasn’t jazz.
“I was playing jazz at ‘The Mix’ in Georgetown,” said Kim, who teaches both electric and upright bass at Shoreline Community College, not to mention jazz improvisation and music theory. “I’d been doing it for about a year and noticed this guy hanging around, always really late in the evening.”
Turned out the guy was Ben Shepherd, bassist for the legendary rock group Soundgarden, which was still on a 13-year break when he and Kim were introduced. “I didn’t know who he was at the time,” Kim said. “Of course, I knew of Soundgarden, but I spend most of my time doing jazz so I wasn’t real familiar.”
Kim was playing the upright bass with his group, Synthesis, at The Mix while Shepherd was working on material for a solo project. One night, Shepherd asked Kim to play on one of the tracks. That was in 2010.
“It just took a couple of hours at The Mix,” Kim said of the session and club that doubles as a rock music venue and recording studio. “Ben was very clear about what he wanted; he’s a very artistic guy with a lot of great ideas.”
The actual recording took only about 30 minutes, Kim said, and became “The Train You Can’t Win (Holes),” the final track on Shepherd’s new album, “In Deep Owl,” just released this past month.
That the project took three years to see the light of day was a function of Soundgarden’s resurgence, Kim says. Shepherd and the band got back together soon after and began recording and touring again. “Actually, I think the ‘In Deep Owl’ project had something to do with them getting back together,” Kim said, noting that the album includes Shepherd fellow ’Gardener, Matt Cameron.
And what about the album’s title?
“I’ve heard the cabbies call Georgetown ‘Deep Owl,’” Kim said. “It’s where it was made.”