Tag Archives: bass

Progressive Rock Icon John Wetton Dies at 67

Acclaimed rock musician John Wetton passed away this morning, Tuesday, January 31st, 2017, after a long battle against colon cancer.

John Wetton was born on June 12, 1949 in Willington, Derbyshire. He became famous as vocalist and bassist of pioneering progressive rock band King Crimson in the early 1970s. John wetton rec orded three albums with King Crimson: Larks’ Tongues in Aspic (1973), Starless and Bible Black (1974), and Red (1974)]

At the end of the 1970s, Wetton formed progressive rock supergroup UK together with Eddie Jobson (Curved Air, Roxy Music and Frank Zappa), Allan Holdsworth (Tempest, Soft Machine, The New Tony Williams Lifetime and Gong) and Bill Bruford (Yes and King Crimson). UK released two now classic progressive rock albums, UK (1978) and Danger Money (1979).

In the early 1980s, John Wetton was one of the founders of the highly successful FM-radio oriented rock group Asia. The group released the hit song ‘Heat of the Moment’ in 1982.

John Wetton also enjoyed a fruitful solo career, including the album Battle Lines, and formed iCon with Asia bandmate Geoff Downes. In 2006 the original line-up of Asia got together again and toured the world several times to promote four new studio albums.

John Wetton had been planning to tour with Asia for the band’s upcoming US arena tour with rock band Journey and, after the success of his solo Studio Recordings Anthology, continue working on the ongoing re-issue program of his solo albums through his own Primary Purpose label.

Drumer Carl Palmer released the following statement: “With the passing of my good friend and musical collaborator, John Wetton, the world loses yet another musical giant.

John was a gentle person who created some of the most lasting melodies and lyrics in modern popular music. As a musician, he was both brave and innovative, with a voice that took the music of ASIA to the top of the charts around the world. His ability to triumph over alcohol abuse made him an inspiration to many who have also fought that battle.

For those of us who knew him and worked with him, his valiant struggle against cancer was a further inspiration. I will miss his talent, his sense of humor and his infectious smile.

May you ride easy, my old friend.”

John is survived by his recently wed wife Lisa and 18 year old son Dylan, brother Robert and mother Peggy.

The very last studio song of John Wetton’s career was the closing track on the Asia album “Gravitas” and included the lyrics “Think the best of me, till we meet again.”

headline photo: John Wetton – photo by Mike Inns

Exceptionally Good Jazz Funk Bass

Nathan East – Reverence (Yamaha Entertainment Group, 2017)

Nathan East is one of the finest American bass players. Reverence is his second album and he showcases his talent by delivering an outstanding set of pieces covering a wide-range of styles.

The album opens with Earth Wind and Fire’s classic song “Love’s Holiday.” The track features Philip Bailey on vocals. Bailey was one of the original singers of Earth Wind and Fire. He provides wordless and background vocals, while the lead melody is carried forward by the bass.

The next track is “Lifecycle,” which is an excellent up-tempo piece that mixes bass-fueled funk jazz with Earth Wind and Fire-style brass, wah wah, strings and Latin jazz vocals.

 

 

“Elevenate” is a laid back piece with East’s colleague Chuck Loeb (Steps Ahead and Fourplay) delivering exquisite guitar interplay with Nathan East’s bass.

The Earth Wind and Fire theme continues on track 4, with “Serpentine Fire,” another classic song by the famed funk band. This cover was recorded with East’s brother Marcel in 1991 along with Eric Clapton on guitar and Phil Collins on drums. It was digitally remastered and three Earth, Wind & Fire members added parts: Philip Bailey on vocals, Verdine White on additional bass, and Ralph Johnson on percussion.

Track 5 is a gospel song titled “Feels like Home” featuring vocals by Yolanda Adams.

Stevie Wonder gets the next tribute with a cover of his hit “Higher Ground,” turned into an instrumental song with Nathan East’s fabulous bass replacing the vocals.

From funk to traditional jazz swing on “The Mood I’m In” with Nikki Yanofsky on vocals.

Track 8 is Nathan East’s version of one of the most recorded songs, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Here, Nathan’s 16-year-old son Noah takes the lead on piano.

One of the highlights of the album is the fantastic fusion track titled “Shadow”, featuring the great maestro Chick Corea on keyboards, including his signature synth solos. Even though this track is longer than the rest, it gets faded away and leaves you wanting much more.

Track 10, titled “Pasan” heads towards smooth jazz, with a mix of bass, backing vocals and woodwinds.

Another favorite is the decidedly enjoyable, feel good funk jazz song “Why Not This Sunday” featuring Ruben Studdard on lead vocals, interacting with East’s bass.

The album ends with a short and beautiful solo bass piece.

Nathan East is an experienced and highly reputable bass player who has recorded with well-known rock, R&B, pop and jazz acts. As a solo artist, his career started in 2014 with the self-titled recording Nathan East (Yamaha Entertainment Group), followed by a remarkable collaboration with Bob James titled The New Cool (Yamaha Entertainment Group, 2015).

He is a founding member of acclaimed contemporary jazz quartet Fourplay and has more than 2,000 album credits to his name and several GRAMMY-winning songs including “Get Lucky,” “Footloose” and “Change the World.”

Buy Reverence in the Americas

Buy Reverence in Europe

Artist Profiles: EchoTest

EchoTest

Bassists Julie Slick and Marco Machera met the Three of a Perfect Pair Music Camp in 2011. They started collaborating in April 2014 to play a short series of concerts in Tuscany, after Julie’s European tour with The Crimson ProjeKCt.

Very instinctively, new songs were written during a few days of rehearsals. The spur-of-the-moment bass duets ended up being so satisfying and well-received that Julie and Marco ultimately decided to write and record more material together. They named their project EchoTest. The group’s live performances and albums include various acclaimed musicians such as Pat Mastelotto, Tim Motzer, Zach LoPresti, Ali Wadsworth, Ian Gray, and Greg Rosen.

EchoTest have reinvented the role of solo electric bass and superbly display the songwriting abilities of the duo, characterized by a mesmerizing combination of loop music, ambient soundscapes and interlocking bass patterns.

Discography:

Fourth Dementia (2014)
Slick Mix Vol II (2015)
Le Fil Rouge
Live in Philadelphia (2016)

website: echotestmusic.com

The Dazzling Vocals of Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding – Emily’s D+Evolution (Concord, 2016)

Jazz bassist, vocalist and composer Esperanza Spalding has released what is perhaps one of her most progressive albums. Her music is still rooted in jazz, soul, funk and other Afro-rooted forms, but on her new album ‘Emily’s D+Evolution’, she adds rock elements, progressive jazz and lots of vocal experimentation.

Even though, she is an outstanding bass player, Esperanza Spalding really stands out here because of her vocal abilities. She uses and transforms her voice in so many that it’s hard to catch all the amazing nuances included in the recordings. She uses modulations, loops and overdubs to create a one of the finest vocal albums of this year.

 

 

The lineup on ‘Emily’s D+Evolution’ includes Esperanza Spalding on vocals, bass, piano and synth bass; Matthew Stevens (Christian Scott) on guitar; Karriem Riggins (Madlib, Erykah Badu) on drums; Corey King on background vocals, trombone and synthesizer; Emily Elbert on background vocals; Nadia Washington on background vocals; Justin Tyson on drums; Fred Martin on background vocals; Katriz Trinidad on background vocals; Celeste Butler on background vocals; and Kimberly L. Cook-Ratliff on background vocals.

 

 

‘Emily’s D+Evolution’ is an exceptionally good genre-bending album featuring impressive vocal work.

Buy Emily’s D+Evolution in the Americas

Buy Emily’s D+Evolution in Europe

Unrelenting Jazz-Rock Energy

Antoine Fafard – Sphère (Timless Momentum, 2016)

Virtuoso bassist and composer Antoine Fafard never ceases to surprise. On every album he invites some of the finest musicians in the jazz-rock fusion world. The guests on his fourth album, Sphère, are British drummer and keyboardist Gary Husband, and his regular collaborator, guitar maestro Jerry De Villiers Jr.

Sphère is progressive jazz-rock of the highest order, with masterful performances by all musicians. Fafard extracts such a rich palette of sounds from his bass that it’s a true delight for electric bass fans. Guitarist Jerry De Villiers Jr. deserves more international recognition. He delivers a wide-range of electric guitar styles, ranging from Alan Holdsworth-style rapid progressions to delicate beautiful passages and effects.

Gary Husband is the great discovery for me. His vibrant creative drumming is outstanding and a joy to listen to. He’s just as good with the piano and synth solos. The fast synth melodic bursts are spectacular and some of the best synth jazz-rock solos I’ve heard recently.

The regular edition of Sphère has 9 fabulous pieces. Fafard has also released a limited edition CD with 3 bonus tracks, in a digipack with 32 pages with photos of the recording sessions.

Sphère delivers unrelenting jazz-rock energy, as well as a lot of tight ensemble interchange. Highly recommended.

Buy Sphère