Colin Bass (born 4 May 1951 in London, England), is an English musician, award-winning record producer and songwriter. Since 1979 he has been a member of the British progressive-rock band Camel who have recently completed a short world tour. From 1984 to 1992 he was also a core figure in the pioneering World Music group 3 Mustaphas 3. He has also made two solo albums under his own name and three albums recorded in Indonesia under the name Sabah Habas Mustapha. The title track of the first, “Denpasar Moon”, became a hugely popular song in Indonesia in the mid-90s and has been covered by over 50 Indonesian, Malaysian, Japanese and Filipino artists. As a record producer he has worked with a diverse range of international artists including: The Klezmatics (USA), Sambasunda (Indonesia), Etran Finatawa (Niger), Daniel Kahn & the Painted Bird (USA) and the Krar Collective (Ethiopia) amongst others. As a guest artist he has appeared on albums by a number of internationally acclaimed artists including top Malian singing star Oumou Sangare, playing on all tracks of her 1993 “Ko Sira” album.
Bass first started playing professionally in 1968 as guitarist with a band called The Krisis, playing the UK club and ballroom circuit, after which he switched to bass guitar and joined Velvet Opera in 1970 with whom he made his first recordings for Spark Records.
In 1971 he joined an incarnation of the 60’s chart-topping group The Foundations and spent a year playing the cabaret clubs mostly in northern England.
In 1971 he met Ernie Graham, formerly of Eire Apparent and, together with guitarist Jonathan Glemser, they formed the band Clancy. The band became part of London’s growing Pub-Rock scene and briefly signed with Island Records but were dropped after differences with producer Muff Winwood.
Shortly afterwards the band signed with Warner Brothers and recorded two albums: “Seriously Speaking” (1974) and “Every Day” (1975). The line-up on both was: Bass (bass, vocals), Ernie Graham (guitar, vocals), Gasper Lawal (percussion), Dave Vasco (guitar), Dave Skinner (keyboards, vocals) and Barry Ford (drums, vocals).
Clancy split in 1976 and Colin joined Steve Hillage, who was putting together a band to promote the album “L” on a six-month tour of Europe and the USA. The line-up included ex-Jethro Tull drummer Clive Bunker.
In 1977 Bass was invited by American saxophonist and composer Jim Cuomo, who had occasionally played with Clancy, to participate in his musical “Woe Babylon” at the Edinburgh Festival. The band from the show included pianist Ollie Marland and drummer Miguel Olivares and this quartet became a project known as the Casual Band. Olivares was later replaced by ex-Back Door drummer Tony Hicks. Recordings were made with producer Tom Newman but were never released.
In 1979, Steve Hillage tour manager Laurie Small introduced Bass to British progressive-rock band Camel. The line-up at the time was Andrew Latimer (guitar, vocals), Andy Ward (drums) and Kit Watkins and Jan Schelhaas (keyboards). There followed two albums “I Can See Your House From Here” (1979) and “Nude” (1980) and respective international tours.
In 1981 at the end of the “Nude” tour, Andy Ward’s health problems led to Andrew Latimer’s dissolving of the band. Bass relocated to Paris where he recorded an album and performed live with old colleague Jim Cuomo.
Returning to the UK in 1983 he took up a teaching post, played sessions and club and pub gigs with various line-ups until Andrew Latimer invited him to rejoin Camel for the 1984 “Stationary Traveller” tour. In the same year he started to play with the Anglo-Ghanaian band Orchestra Jazira, which led to his induction in the pioneer world-music group 3 Mustaphas 3, who renamed him as Sabah Habas Mustapha.
Between 1985 and 1991 the 3 Mustaphas 3 recorded four full albums and sundry singles and EPs and established a cult following for their live performances, touring in the USA, Europe, Japan and also in the then Soviet-bloc countries of East Germany, Hungary and Bulgaria.
As Sabah Habas Mustapha
When the 3 Mustaphas 3 stopped activities in 1991 Colin went to Indonesia where, over the next ten years he recorded three solo albums with Indonesian musicians under the name of Sabah Habas Mustapha. The first, “Denpasar Moon” (1994), was recorded in Jakarta and explored the sounds of the popular music style Dangdut.
The title song became a major hit in Indonesia in the form of a cover-version by a singer from the Philippines called Maribeth and was subsequently recorded by over 50 different Indonesian artists and also artists from Malaysia and Japan.
In 1997 Colin founded the Kartini Music record label whose first release was another Sabah Habas Mustapha record, Jalan Kopo, recorded in Bandung and this time influenced by the sounds of the west Javanese province of Sunda. The title cut from that record is played as pre-show music for the nighttime fireworks/water spectacular IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth at Epcot, located in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
At the same time, the 90’s saw a rejuvenated Camel back on the scene after a long period of inactivity due to a protracted legal dispute with previous management. In 1991 Andrew Latimer, now relocated to California, invited Colin to participate in the recording of “Dust and Dreams”, the first release by his own label Camel Productions, which was followed by a world tour in 1992 with the line-up of Latimer, Bass and Mickey Simmonds (keyboards) and Paul Burgess (drums).
Between then and 2003 Camel released another three studio albums and undertook subsequent tours all documented with live albums and DVDs.
In 1998, Kartini Music released Colin’s first album under the name Colin Bass: “An Outcast of the Islands”. Recorded in Poland and California and featuring Andrew Latimer on guitar, the then Camel drummer Dave Stewart and a number of Polish musicians, the album gathered critical praise and helped establish his reputation in Poland. Subsequent tours produced two live albums: “Live at Polskie Radio 3” (1999) and “Live Vol.2: Acoustic Songs” (2000).
2000 also saw the release of another Sabah Habas Mustapha album recorded in Bandung, Indonesia : “So La Li”. It further explored the sounds of the Sundanese region and featured again the multi-instrumentalist Ismet Ruchimat and several musicians from his group Sambasunda. “So La Li” won wide critical acclaim and was nominated for a BBC Radio 3 World Music Award.
He lived in Berlin, Germany from 1988-2011. From 1994 until end of 2008 he wrote and presented a weekly radio show for RBB Radio Multikulti and WDR Funkhaus Europa in Germany: “Sabah am Sonntag”, presenting musical rarities and curiosities from around the world. He now lives in North Wales, UK, where he is producer/engineer at Wild End Studio.
Bassist, Record Producer, Songwriter
Record Producer on albums by: Etran Finatawa, Lord Mouse & the Kalypso Katz Krar Collective, Sambasunda, Sambasunda Quintet, Daniel Kahn & the Painted Bird, The Klezmatics, Tarika, Sabah Habas Mustapha & the Jugala Allstars, Stella Chiweshe, Ali Hassan Kuban…a.o
Currently mixing new album for 9Bach (Wales)
Latest production: Recording Etran Finatawa in a tent in the desert near Niamey, Niger. To be released in June 2013 as “The Sahara Sessions” by World Music Network.
Other recent productions: Alhousseini Anivolla (Niger) for World Music Network (UK), Lord Mouse & the Kalypso Katz (USA/Germany/UK/Russia/Brazil/Serbia), Bamboo Pearl Orchestra (SE Asia/UK).
As Bassist has worked with: Camel, 3 Mustaphas 3, Oumou Sangare, Ofra Haza, Steve Hillage, The Jugala Allstars, Dembo Konte & Kausu Kuyateh, Maurice el Medioni, Stella Chiweshe, Orchestre Jazira, Gasper Lawal…a.o.
Radio: wrote and presented a weekly music programme, “Sabah am Sonntag”, for RBB Radio Multikulti in Berlin 1994 – 2008.
As Colin Bass
- 1998 – An Outcast Of The Islands
- 1998 – As Far As I Can See EP
- 1999 – Denpasar Moon EP
- 1999 – Live At Polskie Radio 3 2 CD
- 1999 – Poznań Pie – Live In Concert VHS
- 2000 – Live Vol. 2 – Acoustic Songs
- 2002 – Gently Kindly
- 2003 – In The Meantime
- 2003 – An Outcast Of The Islands – Remastered + 3 bonus tracks
- 2005 – Planetarium – With Józef Skrzek
- 2006 – In The Meantime – Remastered + 5 bonus tracks
Albums by other artists “Produced by Colin Bass”
- 1989 – “Chisi” by Stella Chiweshe (Piranha)
- 2005 – “When Worlds Collide” by Jenny Weisgerber (SoulMaid)
- 2005 – “Rawahna’s Cry” by Sambasunda (Network Medien)
- 2010 – “Tarkat Tajje / Let’s Go!” by Etran Finatawa (Riverboat/WMN)
- 2010 – “Lost Causes” by Daniel Kahn & the Painted Bird (Oriente)
- 2011 – “Java” by Sambasunda Quintet (Riverboat/WMN)
- 2012 – “Ethiopia Super Krar” by Krar Collective (Riverboat/WMN)
As Sabah Habas Mustapha>
- 1994 – Denpasar Moon
- 1998 – Jalan Kopo
- 1999 – So La Li
- 2004 – Denpasar Moon 2004 – remastered + bonus
- 1979 – I Can See Your House From Here
- 1981 – Nude
- 1984 – Pressure Points – Live In Concert
- 1991 – Dust and Dreams
- 1993 – Never Let Go – Live 2 CD
- 1996 – Harbour Of Tears
- 1997 – On The Road 1981
- 1998 – Coming Of Age – Live CD and DVD
- 1999 – Rajaz
- 2001 – The Paris Collection – Live
- 2002 – A Nod And A Wink
With 3 Mustaphas 3
- 1986 – Local Music
- 1987 – Shopping
- 1990 – Soup of the Century
- 1991 – Friends, Fiends & Fronds
- 2001 – Play Musty For Me