Issue Four: Spins, Streams & Downloads

Bass Magazine digs into the latest releases of albums, books, and videos involving all things bass.

Issue Four: Spins, Streams & Downloads

Bass Magazine digs into the latest releases of albums, books, and videos involving all things bass.

Avashai Cohen – Arvoles [Razdaz Recordz]

The Israeli-born bass giant returns in a quintet setting with pianist Elchin Shirinov, drummer Noam David, trombonist Björn Samuelsson, and flautist Anders Hagberg for an inspiring set of originals strong in melody and rhythmic invention. “Simonero” sets the course with a falling bass line that sets up striking ensemble counterpoint. The title track is rife with baroque ornamentation between bass and piano, while “Childhood (for Carmel)” seems descended from a Romantic-era church. “Face Me” dances on angular accents within its 3/4 meter and boasts Cohen’s virtuous bowed solo. Elsewhere, “Elchinov” rides an odd-time piano montuno, huge chordal leaps, and a killer groove solo. The swirling harmonies of “Nostalgia” evoke many a musical mood and age. And “New York ’90s” summons Cohen’s global breakout period. All told, Arvoles is a candidate for bass album of the year. —Chris Jisi

Invisiblemann – Volume 12: Echoes of a Funked Memory Factor [Invisiblemann]

 Bay area bassist and songwriter Kenney James has just released the 12th installment of his Invisiblemann album series, which features his funky slap work and a wide range of grooves set over downtempo, soul, and fusion tracks. The album comes to life with the swagger of the opening cut, “Kickback,” but it really hits its stride with his funky plucking on “Lost Culture.” “Think About Funk” does more than ponder it, as James lays down layers of deep slap with rumbling tone. Invisiblemann just keeps getting better and better with each new album, so we’re excited to hear what he brings with Volume 13. —Jon D’Auria

Philip Bailey – Love Will Find a Way [Verve]                                                                                              

Timed with Earth, Wind & Fire’s 50th Anniversary (which will include the band’s Kennedy Center Honors award this December), vocalist Philip Bailey releases his first solo effort in 17 years. The disc’s ten tracks soar between soul and jazz on Bailey’s golden voice, which is backed by a bevy of potent bassists, including Derrick Hodge, Carlitos Del Puerto, Alex Al, and Christian McBride. Curtis Mayfield’s “Billy Jack” comes bumpin’ out of the gate with a new, brighter hip-hop feel, riding Hodges’ syncopated subhook (he returns later with sympathetic support on Robert Glasper’s Ramsey Lewis-like instrumental “Sacred Soul”). Cut during Chick Corea and Steve Gadd’s Chinese Butterfly sessions, Corea’s Return To Forever vocal track “You’re Everything” gets a funky samba feel, with Del Puerto’s sinewy 5-string filling the open spaces. Alex Al’s big-toned upright anchors a swinging cover of the Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime.” McBride (on upright) drives the Afro-6/8 “Stairway to the Stars” (which he co-wrote) and sets a deep 5/4 pocket on a soul–jazz adaptation of Abbey Lincoln’s “Long as You’re Living.” —Chris Jisi

Theo Katzman & Friends – My Heart Is Live in Berlin [Ten Good Songs]                                                                          

Vulfpeck drummer and co-frontman Theo Katzman has created a strong following of his own with his solo career, so when he decided to take his show on the road to Europe, it was a no-brainer to bring along Vulf’s Joe Dart. Katzman’s songwriting style varies greatly from Vulfpeck, but his classic rock and soul vibe is the perfect vehicle for Dart to lay into the pocket and display his monster playing. On the easily enjoyable live album, Dart steals the show with masterful moments on each track, most notably with his locking in on “Hard Work,” his soulful licks on “Break Up Together,” and his rewind-numerous-times spotlight on “Four Fine Gentlemen.” —Jon D’Auria

Mark Ronson – Late Night Feelings [Columbia/RCA]                                                                                             

The über-producer largely abandons his retro-soul sound (Amy Winehouse, Bruno Mars) for a set of club-mix pop songs about heartbreak sung from the female perspective — for which he enlists nine chanteuses, including Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keys, and Camila Cabello. Although synth bass is the dominant color, frequent Ronson collaborator and groove ace Nick Movshon is onboard, racking up four co-writes and lending soulful bass guitar to “True Blue,” “Why Hide,” and the first single, “Late Night Feelings.” Elsewhere, Alissia Benveniste elevates “Pieces of Us” with muscular, in-your-face slapping. —Chris Jisi

The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger [Third Man]                                                                                   

Jack White has achieved a wild level of success thanks to his fame with his rock duo the White Stripes, but he’s also been able to reach a different audience altogether with his other band, the Raconteurs. Tapping into more of an alternative/indie blues-rock sound, the band’s third album, Help Us Stranger, features the powerful and tasteful playing of Jack Lawrence. His rolling bass lines throughout the album help support White’s vocals and guitar (a strong contrast to the bass-less sound of the Stripes). From flowing lines to grinding riffs, Lawrence proves he’s the secret weapon of the Raconteurs on every track of the band’s most consistently solid album yet. —Jon D’Auria

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