CD Review: Bill 'The Buddha' Dickens "Tha Truth"

The Buddha of Bass has long dealt with the dichotomy of being a world-class technical master on his extended-range basses, as well as a veteran pop producer/composer.
By Chris Jisi ,

The Buddha of Bass has long dealt with the dichotomy of being a world-class technical master on his extended-range basses, as well as a veteran pop producer/composer. On this long-awaited solo outing (for which he mans 9-, 7-, fretless 7-, 5-, and 4-string basses), Bill Dickens merges both worlds with convincing results. The title track, as well as covers of “Footprints” and “People Make the World Go Round,” highlight Dickens’ severe slapping and buzzsaw shredding. “God’s Amazing Grace” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” boast his liquid chord melodies and tasty reharms. The wildcard track is the amiable bossa “I Don’t Want To,” written, sung, and anchored by Mike Gordon, with Dickens filling between vocals (the two met via Meters guitarist Leo Nocentelli). Perhaps most intriguing are the evocative instrumentals “Vibe” and “Persession,” complete with moody horns, string swells, and bubbling bass, which capture Buddha’s home base of Chicago as first heard through soulful local legends like Richard Evans and Dickens’ former boss, Ramsey Lewis.