BP Recommends: August 2016 CD Reviews

Armstrong, the storied jazz/fuze vet and current Aretha Franklin bassist, pays homage to his resurging home city on his dynamic latest effort.
By BP Staff ,

RALPHE ARMSTRONG
DETROIT RISING

[Chuck Pasque Productions]

Armstrong, the storied jazz/fuze vet and current Aretha Franklin bassist, pays homage to his resurging home city on his dynamic latest effort. Four blues tracks and the R&B vocal meditation, “Planetry Pieace,” open the album, with appearances by guitarist Larry Coryell and saxophonist James Carter. An edgy turn leads to the funkfest “Greektown,” written by guest bassist Guy Pratt, “Jaco’s Paradise,” which rides Ralphe’s fretless forays, the Mahavishnulike “Lynch Road,” and the closing “Cruising in the ‘D’,” written by and featuring bassist Kern Brantley. Side note: Guitarist Regi Wooten shreds vigorously on all four tracks. —CHRIS JISI

RADIOHEAD
A MOON SHAPED POOL

[XL]

Radiohead’s highly anticipated ninth album has finally emerged after five years of speculation since 2011’s King of Limbs. Amidst cathartic string arrangements, melancholic vocals, and eerie key changes, Colin Greenwood proves that he, too, understands that patience is virtue, as he picks and chooses his pockets for bass moments with a master’s restraint. But when Greenwood does decide to directly impact a song, the results are monumental, as is the case with “Identikit,” “Burn the Witch,” and “The Numbers.” —JON D’AURIA

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NAKED TRUTH
AVIAN THUG

[Rare Noise]

Flaunting big octaves right out of the gate, Lorenzo Feliciati thunders onto Naked Truth’s latest exploration of rhythm, melody, and texture. On tunes like “Lazy Elephant” and “Trap Door,” his Mick Karn influence comes right to the front. Feliciati’s tone is complex, chewy, chunky, toothsome, and right in your face on tunes like “Day Two at Bedlam,” a drum-less clip from a forgotten movie that places his fretless front and center. The whole shebang ends with the contemplative, Jon Hassell-ish “Moon at Noon,” which finds Feliciati skipping the obvious notes to get to the ones that count. —E.E. BRADMAN

JAMAREO ARTIS
THE RED BOOMBOX

[JamArt]

After releasing his debut EP, 2015’s Liberation, Bruno Mars bassist Artis went to work on an album that would truly express his musical style and prowess. The Red Boombox hits his goal and exceeds all expectations. Beyond the obvious showstoppers such as his solo on “The Feeling,” his Jaco-like presence on “Dream,” and his funky lines on “Dr. Funkster,” Artis’ songwriting skills are the real winner. —JON D’AURIA

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CONRAD KORSCH
ON THE THRESHOLD

[Scrumptious Music]

Korsch, the veteran Gotham doubler who has also served as Rod Stewart’s bassist since 2002, shines on his sophomore singer– songwriter effort, handling vocals and playing all instruments except drums. “I’m Alive” moves from a brooding verse to a vibrant release. “Earthlings” rides a tight techno groove led by Korsch’s impetuous octaver bass line. “Wanna Go” weaves a three-part bass line into a Fab Four-worthy chorus, while “Tornado” pivots on dual bass drones, leading to an Oasis-like hook. Finally, with his string of pop gems in place, Korsch turns to his upright for the album-closing jazz bossa, “Until We Meet Again.” —CHRIS JISI

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS
THE GETAWAY

[Warner Bros.]

Flea and the Chili Peppers are back with The Getaway, where each song has single potential. While his playing on “Dark Necessities” is reminiscent of his slap work on 2002’s “Can’t Stop,” the record as a whole is a mixed bag of bass lines of varying dominance. Flea’s supportive role on “Goodbye Angels” and “The Longest Wave” prove yet again that he can sit back and simply groove, but his lightning-fast intro on “Detroit” takes the bass cake here. —JON D’AURIA

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INVISIBLEMANN
VOLUME 10: READ Y TO FLOAT

[cdbaby.com/cd/invisiblemann3]

Bay Area bassist/producer Kenny James is back with another installment of his Invisiblemann series, delivering neo-soul, downtempo, and chilled-out lounge vibes. James’ deep lines over laid-back drumbeats create the perfect atmospheric backdrop to an album full of instrumental gems. As a producer, his focus on moody keys, spacey guitars, and mellow soundscapes is superb, but his bass grooves on “Coming Alive Again,” “The Difference,” and “Soul Done Right” hold up on their own. —JON D’AURIA