The Bass Geek - Words about Music, Circuitry, and New Orleans
The Bass Geek

Bass On The Broadband

Truth be told, I was a little ready to dismiss this streaming radio station as a great idea, just not my kind of thing. Acclaimed bassist Brian Bromberg started the channel as a showcase for bass-oriented music, and it does address that, to be sure. It's just that the first couple times I tuned in, the music was rather . . . smooth. The songs all featured famous bassists quite prominently, but there wasn't anything I felt particularly attached to. The third time I tuned in, though, I joined right in the middle of Willie Weeks' solo in Donny Hathaway's "Voices Inside (Everything is Everything). And it went from there into a great Esperanza Spalding track. So the station redeemed itself there, and I've been tuning in every so often since then with (for the most part) good results.

The franchise names are there, to be sure:

  • Marcus Miller
  • Ron Carter
  • Victor Wooten
  • Stanley Clarke
  • Bootsy Collins

But there's been plenty of stalwarts you wouldn't hear on a . . . smooth station as well.

  • Damien Erskine
  • Adam Nitti
  • Yves Carbonne

And they've got a Bryan Beller track playing right now, in fact. No real shows to speak of, just wall-to-wall music with a Sunday feature on classical bassists (just like terrestrial radio putting their "public service" programming on Sunday?). So I'm happy to call this a decent resource (especially in the jazz and fusion genres, where bassists liked by bassists tend to live, I suppose). I'm not sure how much exposure this will give the artists on the channel to non-bassists, but for those of us who tend to be a little obsessive, it's great. Just remember that this is a stream, so there's no rewinding or downloads or anything like that. That said, no commercials, either.

EDIT: Just realized that I'd like to hear more stuff from artists like Matthew Garrison, Thundercat, as well as folks like Steve Lawson. I'm guessing the music is on the way, though, since this just started up.


Two-Bass Day and Fountain Square Construction

Cosmically speaking, the scheduling of these two events could have been a little better aligned. Not that I mind taking in a clinic from Stanley Clarke and a Christian McBride performance in the same day at all, but the events were only separated a few hours and a four-hour round-trip drive. Still, it was fascinating to hear Clarke talk about his playing and actually witness some exhilarating solo bass performances (on acoustic and electric). Such full-sounding pieces from a bass! At the end, he declared the bass "liberated" - it's been for some time, but it's still good to hear. Now I need to go get an acoustic, too . . .

McBride put on a clinic of his own for his second set at the Jazz Kitchen with an excellent band (minus the stranded vibes player - thanks, Southwest Airlines!). Great songs, outstanding executions, and just the right amount of soloing from all involved.

Then I drove back home, and it was a little more complicated than you might expect for the sober driver I am. Mass construction has descended on Fountain Square, so visitors, please take note of this website:

Everything is still accessible, and there's still plenty of parking. If you're worried, I'll even offer a spot behind my garage or something. Come on down.


Christian McBride at the Jazz Kitchen on March 20th

From the looks on the website, it appears this show focuses more on McBride's acoustic jazz side and features the band from the 2009 release Kind of Brown. And that's not a bad thing at all - McBride is probably the most important jazz bassist of his generation. This show is definitely Bass Geek-approved.


New IMN Podcast and Somebody Gets It

The new IMN podcast is up - download it or listen at the site or on WFYI HD2, Thursdays at 4pm and 10pm.

This review sums up perfectly why leaving out the bassist is not a good idea. Apologies to the band in question for publicizing this review for reasons other than them, but it's refreshing to see this point made outside of the low-end community. Thanks, Chris Bilto. You're one of the good ones.


Big Bass Show Coming (Close) to Indianapolis

The Palladium up in Carmel, IN appears to have crafted a series of shows with a wide variety of music represented, none of which seems to appeal to those under 25 or so - meddling kids ruin all the good shows, anyway. However, they managed to hit a home run with their April 11, 2011 show. Not only is it a show that looks at both early- and late-period Miles Davis music, but they managed to pack both Ron Carter AND Marcus Miller on the same bill. Excellent, excellent scheduling. I'll be buying tickets as soon as possible.


Some Great Sounds from Bass Day . . .

Was it great hearing a mass bass ensemble rendition of "Can't Help Falling In Love" Saturday during Bass Day? Indeed it was. Twenty or so double basses working out the parts took some effort, but it turned out pretty good. It was also nice to hear electric bass brought up during one of the master classes and not be immediately dismissed or denigrated. In fact, the clinician used it as an example of the kind of tone she wanted to hear from another part of her piece. It's a far cry from when I carried a double bass (which I was thoroughly wretched at, by the way) down the hall of a music school and was congratulated for finally playing a "real" instrument. Make no mistake, this day was dedicated to orchestral upright bass players, but the inclusion was still a nice touch. Plus, what I heard was probably nothing compared to the guy who made the viol de gamba presentation.

Tagged as: No Comments

Bass Day at Butler University

So the recording this weekend was postponed, meaning I have the full day free to participate in the myriad wonders that will no doubt take place at Bass Day this Saturday at Butler University. And they made the thing FREE! Fools - how will the regulate the neverending crush of low-end fans sure to press at the not-nearly-strong-enough doors of their recital hall?

Perhaps I exaggerate, but I am greatly looking forward to seeing the event and the associated players. They've only mentioned a few players, but there should be more than enough happening in the master classes, demos, recitals, and so forth to keep anybody's attention. And by anybody, I mean bassists - Bassoon Day is next week, thank you. And there's even a mass bass All-Play! How could you NOT love that!


Jazz Bass All Over The Place

eMusic is helping me put some more Mingus on my iPod right now, so it's a good time to take a look at bassists and their place as jazz bandleaders. The good folks at AccuJazz have put up a bass-centric channel called Covering All The Bassists that feature Mr. Mingus and many, many more. NPR has also gotten in on the act with their Take Five sampler. Some of the best are up there, and it's a shame there's only five tracks to peruse. Enjoy.


In Memory of Cachaito

Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez didn't get a lot of attention until the Buena Vista Social Club movie and album made it big, and in that he was like a lot of Cuban musicians. However, his death is a loss both for music and specifically bassists. As the nephew of Israel "Cachao" Lopez, he continued a tradition of both the music his uncle helped develop and the bass lines that made it so unique and wonderful. He will be missed.


New Orleans Wrap-Up

The last day and night were kind of a blur, mostly because we were three days into a big festival and were probably achey and a bit dehydrated. So this is more of a list of memorable moments more than a full recap:

  • The Blind Boys of Alabama were one of the most moving performances I'd ever seen. Even on well-worn songs, they managed to wring out so much soul and emotion.
  • Ozomatli and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, while stylistically different, were forces of nature with remarkably similar impacts. Not a single audience member standing still.
  • Did Trombone Shorty make a Juvenile guest appearance both entertaining and enjoyable? Indeed, he did. Nice work.
  • Some of the most memorable occasions were getting ambushed by random musical events, whether it was a robot, a bull-shaped music cart, or a marching band (even though I think one of the cheerleaders molested my wife)
  • The bass was on full display, moreso than any other festival I think I've seen (setting up stage plots on the fly is terrible and thankless work). Whether it was Wil-Dog Abers from Ozomatli, Norwood from Fishbone, or Erykah Badu's set, every bass note was clear, distinct and well-mixed. Kudos to the players and the sound techs.

We ended our stay with a quick stop at a pizza joint near our hotel. No sooner had we sat down than a Latin-tinged dance band was playing and the dance floor was filled with salsa aficionados. Great way to end the weekend.