IN TRANSIT [PIAS]
The seventh album by the Paris-based doubler (and son of film legend Clint) may be called In Transit, but over his last few outings, Eastwood has firmly established his ensemble sound—a contemporary take on Blue Note bands of the early ’60s, or what he calls “lyrical hard bop”—while also conveying poise and growth as a composer and upright bassist. “Soulful Times” and “Movin’,” the former a funky boogaloo, the latter a loping swing with a cascading bass solo, convey his group’s tightly voiced horn sound. Elsewhere, Eastwood covers Monk (“We See”), Basie (“Blues in Hoss’ Flat”), and Mingus via a blistering version of “Boogie Stop Shuffle,” launched by his bluesy rubato upright playing. On the electric side, his 5-string plays the counter-voice on his bossa “Night Flight,” and he takes to his fretless 5 for an expressive cover of Ennio Morricone’s “Cinema Paradiso.”
CHORDAL HARMONY: A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO CHORDS ON BASS [amazon.com]
Other authors do a respectable job of tackling the art of playing chords on bass, but Chordal Harmony is head-and-shoulders above the rest. This well-written 135-page book gently, clearly progresses from the basics (double-stop and triad exercises, followed by études) and triads/inversions to chord vocabulary and sophisticated reharmonization; it’d be impossible to finish this book without gaining a strong grasp of composition, soloing, and harmony along the way. The appendix contains chord voicings, as well as tab (and treble clef) versions of every exercise and étude.
BRAD RUSSELL, GREGG BISSONETTE & JASON FURMAN THE DAILY SHRED [bradrussellbass.com]
When Detroit-raised, New York-based Brad Russell plotted a new EP, he decided to go big: With help from drumming veterans Gregg Bissonette and Jason Furman, Russell took on all of the stringed duties, using tube distortion and a bass whammy bar to shred guitar-like solos and lead licks. Capturing each track with only one take and no overdubs, Russell’s high-stakes gambles paid off.
LOW STANDARDS [Soundbrush]
First-call New York upright bassist David Finck is one of the under-recognized masters of the instrument, from jazz pizzicato to soloist-level bowing. On his fertile first solo effort in six years, he displays those skills and more in an ensemble featuring vibist Joe Locke and flautist Ali Ryerson. Thad Jones’ “Three in One,” Dizzy Gillespie’s “Breezin’ Along with the Breeze,” and Jobim’s “Brigas Nunca Mais” are cool, offbeat covers that feature Finck’s well-phrased melody readings and solos. Bow-melody highlights include “Loving You,” “A Time for Love,” and the Brazilian gem “Pra Dizer Adeus.” The witty title track is a Jay Leonhartlike nod to life from the bassist’s perspective, sung and spun by Finck (“I compose a linear progression, unconcerned with making an impression”).
INSTRUMENTHEAD [Magnet Bound Press]
Over the course of 17 years, photographer Michael Weintrob collaborated with over 500 musicians on a mission to capture the true essence of the players through their beloved instruments. This beautifully assembled coffee-table book shows players with their gear in place of their heads (thanks to clever placement). Many bass-world greats make appearances, including Bootsy Collins, Victor Wooten, Bobby Vega, MonoNeon, and Anthony Jackson.
VOLUME 11: BACK TO MY ROOTS [Kenneth D. James]
On the 11th installment of Kenney James’ INVISIBLEMANN series, the veteran bassist takes it back to his roots, which are evidently swinging grooves and funky licks. His rolling fingerstyle feel on the album’s opener, “A Lil Bit of New Old School,” warms up the listener before James unleashes his slap attack on “Back for More,” “Fundamentals of Soul,” and “Spring Has Sprung.” The record concludes with the immensely funky “The Sound of Freedom,” a highpoint and fitting end to a great album.