New CD prooves that bass players, playing with other bass players, CAN work!
It’s really quite incredible how far the electric bass has come over the decades. From innovators Monk Montgomery and James Jamerson to trailblazers Larry Graham, Jaco Pastorius and John Patitucci, our instrument has matured into a formidable force all its own.
What’s more, bass players have even come to play with (gasp!) other bass players! Cases in point: SMV, with Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten, as well as BX3, with Stu Hamm, Jeff Berlin and Billy Sheehan. I even once saw a trio of upright players made up of John Clayton, Christian McBride and Rodney Whitaker. Keeping the spirit of the multi-bass ensemble concept alive is Bass Player Rebellion, who have recently released their first CD offering, The Revolution, Vol. 1.
Bass Player rebellion is the brainchild of Dave Hufstedler, an upright and electric player, well-steeped in classical (played in the Norfolk Symphony) and jazz (studied with Rufus Reid), as well as a plethora of shows, clubs, tours, etc. BPR was inspired when Dave found himself accompanying two horn players and a drummer, on a gig with no piano or guitar. While doing his best to fill in the missing harmonic structure, Dave’s five-string just didn’t have enough range. Switching to a six-string helped, but not enough. Sensing an opportunity – along with, perhaps, an “aha” moment – Dave expanded the concept, recruiting fellow low-enders Jim Lambie and Damien Wade and drummer Mike Williams. And Bass Player Rebellion was born.
The Revolution, Vol. 1, is a collection of familiar pop, jazz, funk and R&B tunes, arranged for bass, bass, bass and drums. The result is a pleasing recording, well arranged and produced. With one member laying down a bass line, another playing chords and the third playing melody, the guys do a great job of staying out of each other’s way.
Each arrangement has the bass trio handling the groove, chords and melody, tastefully and accessibly. While most of the tunes on this CD have already been done to death, BPR manages to keep things interesting and varied. From the electronics-infused Stevie Wonder tune, “I Wish” to the surprise double-time feel in Van Morrison’s “Moondance” and an out-of-nowhere reggae section in the Hendrix classic “Little Wing,” The Revolution, Vol. 1, is not just another rehash of old and tired tunes.
The collection also includes a bass player’s version of Miles Davis’ “All Blues,” a smooth performance of Benny Golson’s “Killer Joe” and a haunting rendition of Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints.” Rounding out the set are Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine,” the Beatles’ “Come Together,” a funky bass wah-wah performance of Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon” and the Sonny Rollins staple, “St. Thomas,” the album’s closer.
On the one hand, the selection of tunes seems disjointed and all over the place, lacking consistency and flow. On the other hand, though, the novel approach, kind of like a concept album, makes it work.
While the energy level on this album peaks at “moderate,” that doesn’t detract much from its overall listening ability. In fact, one might even consider that quality a plus, depending on what you’re expecting. You won’t find any jaw-dropping mega-chops solos here, but aren’t we all taught that that’s not what’s important? The songs are well executed, the music is good and the recording quality is well above average. With The Revolution, Vol. 1, Bass Player Rebellion has cemented the bass player’s standing in musical importance. Go, bass players. Go, Bass Player Rebellion!
Review by Jon Liebman