Show #50: The Bass

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It’s all about the bass (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

I love basslines and good bass players, whether upright, Ampeg “baby basses” as used in tropical latin music, or electric basses used in most pop, blues, and rock music. In hip hop, basslines have given way to synth bass samples which you can hear a mile away. Musicians listen to the basslines when hearing a group.

The old joke goes like this, “A couple goes in for therapy: they’ve stopped talking to one another; the therapist tells them to go to a jazz club. They are bewildered, but follow his directions and go. When the bassist starts his solo, guess what–they start talking!”

Yet basses play the bottom, provide the fluid heartbeat of music. Beethoven added basses to his works as his hearing worsened; he could feel the bass in his seat, coming up from the floor. Many great producers have been bass players, too. Think of Marcus Miller, who collaborated with Miles Davis on many later albums and producing some of those. Adrian Sherwood of the great U.K. label On-U-Sound is a bass player who produced Dub Syndicate and Lee Scratch Perry, African Head Charge, and other great albums. Bill Laswell produced amazing records for the French label Celluloid and continues to put out really progressive music today. And a young bass player named Esperanza Spalding won the coveted “Best New Artist” Grammy and played at President Obama’s inauguration.

imagesThat being said, this show is about bass players and basslines. We’ll hear the wonderful bassline from Lou Reed‘s 1982 album New Sensations, the amazing fretless fender bass player Jaco Pastorius, including his amazing bass harmonics on Joni Mitchell‘s song “Coyote”,  some fine blues bass from Johnnie Gayton on Albert Collins’ classic side, then Bill Laswell laying it down with his group Material. Christian McBride is one of the best bass players in the jazz arena today, and he’s in constant demand today. We’ll hear something from his trio group on a superb new album. Ron Carter lays down the bass figure for a Joe Henderson Blue Note classic, virtuoso classical & jazz bassist Barre Phillips gives us some solo work from a rare 1968 LP. We wrap it up with Israel “Cachao” Lopez, the great Cuban bass player, then Camerounian bass player Richard Bona, who heard Jaco Pastorius in his Camerounian village and was inspired by Jaco’s “Portrait of Tracy”, and finally jazz bassist Mike Richmond with a slow and hypnotic song that Joe Frank once looped on one of his visionary radio programs.

Here’s to the bass players! Enjoy.


Rhythm Planet Playlist: 4/11/14

  1. Lou Reed / New Sensations / New Sensations / RCA
  2. Jaco Pastorius / Chromatic Fantasy  / Word Of Mouth / Warmer BRPS
  3. Joni Mitchell / CoyoteHejira / Asylum
  4. Albert Collins / The Moon Is FullShowdown / Alligator
  5. Material / Reality Dub / Manifestation: Axiom Collection II / Axiom
  6. Christian McBride / Ham Hocks & CabbageOut Here / Mack Avenue
  7. Joe Henderson / Mode For Joe / Mode For Joe / Blue Note
  8. Barre Phillips / Untitled / Journal Violone / Opus 2
  9. Cachao / Descarga Cubana / From Havana To New York / Caney
  10. Richard Bona / Tiki / Tiki / Decca
  11. Mike Richmond / Epominous, Where Are You? / Basic Tendencies / Nomad

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