BMHOF Class of 2015
Jim Wynne can tell you the moment he became a bass player.
His friend, Dean Angle, was teaching him to play drums, but needed a bass player for his band. The 14-year-old Wynne wasn’t even really aware of bass at the time.
“As soon as I started playing, it just hit me like a revelation,” Wynne said. “Hey, this makes sense. It took me forever to get technique and to learn skilled playing, but as soon as I started playing, I just knew this is what I’m doing.”
It was the start of a path that would lead to him being recognized as one of the top bass players in Western New York as he has played with a series of bands including Gamalon, Haiku, the Wynne Band and a host of others.
He’s also a frequent session bassist, working with Robby Takac and Justin Rose at GCR studios as well at other area studios.
But first he had to get good. He found a home in the band room at West Seneca East, where he would challenge music teacher Niles Denning in bass battles, “But Mr. Denning would decimate me with his chops,” Wynne said.
Wynne credits the teachers in West Seneca with creating the base he has since built on, whether it was Denning teaching him to listen “with big ears” to the whole band instead of just his own instrument or Mr. Lucarell turning him onto chord inversions.
As he honed his chops as a hot-shot teen phenom, he also caught wind of Gamalon. His friend Dean Angle (again) invited him to a Gamalon show at Buffalo State’s Rockwell Hall.
“When you see that room now, it’s not that big,” Wynne said. “But for whatever reason that night when I saw Gamalon, it might has well have been the First Niagara Center, because that’s how big an impact it made on me.
“I saw them in 1989, and I was already becoming proficient. But as far as I was concerned, that was a completely different world. I just wasn’t in that club yet.”
He started going to Gamalon shows and got to know the band members – and they got to know him.
Around seven years later, Wynne said, “(Gamalon drummer) Ted Reinhardt called me and said (bassist) Tom (Reinhardt) wasn’t doing the Gamalon gig anymore because he had become busy with his family and business. … That’s when I started with Gamalon, in 1996.”
His first gig was at the Tralf. He was also playing some keyboards with them.
“I remember a moment where I'm playing, I’m looking out,” he said, “I’m looking over at Ted, my freaking hero, … looking out at this crowd, that was a really cool thing.
“I owe so much to that opportunity that Ted gave me,” Wynne said. “As soon as I was playing in Gamalon, it gave me a lot of credibility in this area. To this day, I owe Ted a lot.”
Wynne played with Gamalon for about five years, and then later with a another version of the band for about four years.
Now he plays with Gamalon co-founder George Puleo in the band Haiku.
“Those Gamalon tunes still live on in our shows,” he said. “It’s a really special thing to be connected to that legacy in a first-hand way.”
In fact, Wynne said he was playing with Gamalon co-founder George Puleo at the Sportsmens Tavern Haiku when they received word that Ted Reinhardt had died in an airplane crash on March 4, 2015.
“Ted was a good close friend,” he said.
Wynne, meanwhile, has forged a career that has seen him play and record with any number of groups and performers. From his first professional performances with the Jony James Band, Buddy Hinds Band and Ike Smith & a Flash of Purple, he moved on to play with Lance Diamond and Universal Grill. In fact, he played with Diamond for a crowd of thousands at Thursday in the Square when that series was still at Lafayette Square.
“That noise of that amount of people and they’re there to see you, it’s so amazing, so invigorating,” he said. “It’s bigger than you. It’s not about you anymore, it’s about the music and the energy that your music passes on. And it’s reciprocal.”
He has recorded with Gamalon, Muse, Greg Meckes, Karma Circle, the Dave Constantino Band and Haiku.
He currently plays with Constantino, Haiku, Jamie Holka, Living Will, Lost & Found and the Ed Koban Group.
He also gives lessons on bass, piano and guitar.
Asked what makes his playing special, he said he would like it to be identified as a product of “Love, inspiration, and wisdom that I’ve learned from others, the teachers. … I look back now and I can hear those soundbites that I remember them talking about. … Marlene Vento (elementary school) … Jack Trenchard (West Seneca East), Jim Kurzdorfer at Villa Maria. I use that stuff to this day.”
Back - 2015