Category Archives: BASS/ SOLO BASS

Edounardo – MARCO RODI – 2006


Solo bass has been a quietly growing genre of music since Victor Wooten came along and stuck it to the establishment. Of course, at some level, it is inevitable. As long as people have existed, they have taken crazy ideas and tried to make them work. Many times, they fail miserably, like the Segway. But other ideas- like solo bass- are more sustainable, if not mainstream.

Marco Rodi is a solo bassist in Canada. He’s pretty damn good at it too. Check out his vids HERE and his website HERE. Edounardo (what does that mean?) happens to be his first solo bass album, recorded when he was pretty young. So how does it stand up?

It stands up well. This is clearly a musical album, intended to make people feel good, not have their jaws sweep the floor with technique. Often, the strummed parts are quite danceable too, like on the actually quite beautiful ‘Energetic Soustraction’. But that track is a bit of an exception. Most of the tracks are moody excursions into the tonal colors available on the electric bass, with a particular emphasis on the chiming harmonics made famous by Jaco Pastorius. Sample “Preparation” and “X-Ray Melody”, and the completely weird but wonderful passage at the end of “The Cruisade”.

The two big strengths that this guy has are enthusiasm and a desire to say **** you to all the detractors of the electric bass. I personally think, such bass players should be more mainstream, and be contributing this sort of thing to mainstream music i.e. rock and pop bands. Because – and you should all know this – the bass is capable of some pretty bloody gorgeous sounds, even without any electro-trickery involved. I’ve only been playing for a couple of years, and I can attest to that fact. As always, it only requires an individual with sufficient reserves of balls and shamelessness to put such a thing forward. In Canada, here’s our man.

This is clearly a musical album, intended to make people feel good, not have their jaws sweep the floor with technique

Faults? Firstly, any instrumental album done on only one instrument beginning to end (even Piano albums, methinks), are hard to swallow in one go. The reason is that while the person playing the instrument might have a lot to say, there are only a limited number of timbres that can be coaxed out of every instrument. Granted, the electric bass has more of a variety than most instruments (percussive, chiming, pinging, choral, melodic, and of course, bass), but still, it would be hard to hold the attention of non-bass n00bs. Secondly, the grooving is not perfect, in the sense of being studio ready. That said, he makes up for it in terms of a certain joie de vivre, if you will.

Yes. He is better than you. No, you can't do this.

That said, considering the young age at which Rodi recorded this (he is 24), it is a DAMN good effort. I played it to a friend of mine who is as interested in instrumental music as Paris Hilton is in quantum physics. This was able to hold his attention for quite a while. From the tribal percussion and moodiness on “The Boat”, to the little pings and ticks and things on “Old Bluesy”, Rodi has clearly left no stone unturned to ensure that the limitations of single instrument albums are overcome. This is inspiring stuff. I’m surely going to do something similar.

And you know what the best – THE best- thing about this? There is no wank-assery in sight. Not for miles. It’s proper songs with structure. Sure, it will not appeal to the majority to your Lady Gaga loving people, but who wants that?

What is the value of such an album? I think it’s important for young musicians who sit in a room and woodshed away to get out and jam as much as possible and be mad about what we are doing. It is critical. Marco is 24 and an engineering student. Wrap that around your head, Mr.-I’m-too-busy-to-practice.  Enjoy this, feel inspired and miserable at the same time. This sounds right.

- El Bajista

More BASS/SOLO BASS reviews HERE.

 


Palmystery – VICTOR WOOTEN – 2008


If you are a bassist, or know one, you’ve heard the name Victor Wooten. He’s been called a lot of good things (and bad things), but one thing is a fact; he can play like a mother******.  And his techniques and relentless genuflecting at the altar of the Groove are highly influential as well. The unfortunate thing is, he will spawn a generation of shredders without any soul or love, ‘cause the douchebags are attracted to the tinsel and chrome aspects of his music. That doesn’t rob his best performances of their incredible emotional power. Check this out.

Move to his solo albums, though, and you find an emphasis on ‘songs’. Of course, the further back you move in his discography, the more likely you are to find flash, but his latest, Palmystery, promises more music than ever before. Does it deliver? Let’s find out.

The first cut ‘2 Timers’ is in many ways the most perplexing cut. A straight up jazz beat? Soloing without much reference to anything? Hmm.  By the beginning of the second track ‘Cambo’, I’m prepared to be sitting through Wooten’s most jazzy album. The groove is nice, but the Arabic vocal parts are a bit half-hearted sounding methinks, because the rest of the song is quite Jazz-Fusion, and it makes no attempt whatsoever otherwise. Lastly, the pointless keyboard solo does annoy a bit.

Next comes the most from-the-heart and fun track, ‘I Saw God’. It’s overlaid with some authentic African vocal choruses, with lyrics talking about God, and Wooten’s view of it. He’s a good storyteller. Moreover, the ‘voices’ of God talking back are in all sorts of genders, ages and accents. Quite something. This is definitely a top track.

Of course, this doesn’t mean Victor Wooten is suddenly becoming a songwriter. He’s still one hell of a bass player. And he reaches out to his hardcore bass playing fans (myself included) with cuts like “Flex” and “Sifu”.

It might seem like a bit of a statement, but on this album, it’s the songs with the vocal cuts that I like the most. Hmm, is it a sign of the youthful bass hero giving way to the mature musician? Maybe. Maybe it’s me who’s getting older, but I can’t help but want- you know- good songs, not just attempts at songs. There are too many chords and too many damn simultaneous solos going on. That said, my favourite solos in the album are the Scott Henderson-y guitar solos and the short bass solo on “Flex” (which I believe to be Wooten’s bass brother Anthony Wellington).

There are too many chords and too many damn simultaneous solos going on.

Now a song like ‘The Gospel’ with that vocal track is amazing stuff. Most of you wouldn’t know it, but the singing of that people on that track reminds me of Punjabi heer singers back in India.  Other good cuts are the Jaco (specifically ‘Come on, come over’) like ‘Left, Right & Center’, and the intimidating sounding but actually melodic and beautiful ‘The Lesson’.

The production is, like the rest of the album, mature. It shows a man in the process of controlling his youthful tendency towards shreddery in favour of songs. Of course, I would absolutely hate the bass madness to go, but maybe because I’m getting older, I feel the need for the awesomeness to be meted out to me in bite-sized rather than American-hamburger-sized pieces.

Yes. He plays better than you. No, it doesn't matter what you play.

Overall, though, I’m not as impressed with this album as I thought it would be. I expected either kickass grooves or kickass melodies, and while both are there in some quantity, they’re not there enough to satiate the soul. I’m quite surprised to say this, but this doesn’t always sound right.

-El Bajista

More VICTOR WOOTEN reviews HERE.

More BASSIST reviews HERE.

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