17 February 2016

Bass Oddities

Thanks to Tina Weymouth, there were a number of early Talking Heads songs that were anchored in strong, prominent bass lines -- “Psycho Killer” and “Take Me to the River” being the first that come to mind. It looks like Simon concurs, since he's singled her out for attention. Yes, Fear of Music sports its fair share of tunes where Weymouth delivers. But “I Zimbra” in particular has never failed to amuse me over the years, mainly because of how the bass pattern alternately accents and punctuates the rhythm engine of the ensemble with an eccentric logic all its own.

And then there's this obscure items from the Chicago soul-jazz scene of the late 1960s...

Melvin Jackson had spent the previous several years playing with Eddie Harris (in fact, a few tunes on Funky Skull are reversionings of tracks he’d cut with Harris a year or two beforehand). Jackson had electrified his upright bass by hooking it up to a series of amps and effects boxes, much the same way that Harris had done with his own tenor saxophone. And to achieve a trippier effect, a number of songs on the album feature Jackson’s bass soaked down with liberal amounts of reverb and delay. The LP also features a lot of session players drawn from the ranks of Chicago's jazz scene of the late '60a (particularly those affiliated with the AACM) -- with the likes Lester and Byron Bowie, Roscoe Mitchell, Leo Smith, Jodie Christian, Phil Upchurch, Pete Cosey, and drummer Billy Hart helping put the whole thing over.

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