Ashleigh Still & Nick Salisbury, Firefly [ and ashleighandnick]

Singer/songwriter Ashleigh Still and bassist Nick Salisbury are as unlikely a duo as you’ll find in this space.

Singer/songwriter Ashleigh Still and bassist Nick Salisbury are as unlikely a duo as you’ll find in this space. Conceived when Salisbury spontaneously accompanied Still at an open mic night in St. Paul, Minnesota, their musical union was consummated when she put down her acoustic guitar and asked Salisbury to back her voice with bass and nothing else. That’s the sound of their indie debut Firefly, and it works to create a haltingly honest, completely vulnerable musical space for Still’s songs to live and breathe in. Salisbury’s bass approach isn’t the warm, reverberated tapestry you might expect—it’s refreshingly vintage-toned and raw, with fret and string-slide noise laid bare as he uses the whole neck, employing chords, double-stops, and arpeggios to comp his way through Still’s edgy, emotional material. Bass highlights include a brief comp/melody solo in “She’s a Good Time,” and a simmering, overdriven snarl that perfectly matches the rough-girl lament of Still’s “Too Bad.” But beyond any individual performance, it’s the way Still and Salisbury complement each other on every track that makes this disc worth repeated listening.


David Pastorius & Local 518 Sense Of Urgency

Imagine if Michael Jordan’s nephew decided to be a basketball player. No pressure, right? Good thing, then, that bassist David Pastorius isn’t even trying to ape you-know-who. The delicious bass tone is a thick, meaty, both-pickupsfull- on, decidedly fretted jazz bass sound with a touch of edge on the high end. When he gets to slapping—and boy, does he ever on the blazing “Groundhog Day”—it’s as if Flea’s hand was landing on Marcus’s bass. His melodic tapping pays clear homage to Stu Hamm on the solo piece “Extra Ecclesam.” Meanwhile, his meat-and-potatoes fingerstyle grooving is superb throughout this widely varied collection of original rock/funk/jazz fusion compositions. As a composer and producer Pastorius is still growing into his ample talents, but ultimately it’s a treat to hear David groove, comp, and solo through these unapologetically sprawling tunes, regardless of his ancestry. That said, though the overall texture couldn’t be more different than, say, anything on Word Of

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Nick Lowe, Labour of Lust [Yep Roc]

The second solo effort by Rockpile bassist Nick Lowe may have been anchored by the saccharine single “Cruel to Be Kind,” but Lowe shows a gutsy, gritty side on the remainder of the recently re-mastered Labour of Lust.

Keb’ Mo’: Live & Mo [Yolabelle]

After winning multiple Grammy’s and other accolades, blues-based singer/songwriter Keb’ Mo’ is at the point where you just know his records are going to be good. Live & Mo’ contains both live tracks— with Reggie McBride on bass—and studio recordings featuring seasoned-pro bassists Les King, Kevin McCormick, Andrew Gouche (who throws down some nasty, slow funk on “Government Cheese”), and even Keb’ Mo’ himself. But live cuts are the real ticket here; McBride has been Keb’s right-hand man on bass for over a decade, and he shows why on the old-school deep groove of “More Than One Way Home,” and his understated, songdriving work in “The Action”: He refuses to get in Keb’s way, yet always keeps it interesting and musical. Reggie’s swinging, thumbmuted line in “Shave Yo’ Legs” (now there’s a lyric you don’t want to step on!) and his slow, grinding, greasy shuffle groove in “Perpetu

The Ed Palermo Big Band

The Ed Palermo Big Band Eddy Loves Frank [Cunieform, 2009] It’s been said there are eight million stories in the naked city, and one of them has got to be bassist Paul Adamy, a pro who’s done everything you can do in New York—major network TV (The Cosby Show) and movie sessions, Broadway shows, jazz festivals, A-list jingles, the New York Philharmonic, and a list of credits (starting with Carly Simon) that’ll make your eyes pop. For fun, Adamy’s been playing in the Ed Palermo Big Band, which exclusively does Frank Zappa material re-arranged by Palermo for his outfit. Eddy Loves Frank is a session pro’s dream gig to stretch on, taking on the Frank oeuvre and nailing rock, funk, swing, and all manner of involved form and arrangement. Adamy plays with the smooth grace and steady aplomb of a guy who’s been there, done that, and still having a blast. Zappa fans will love the swinging original arrangements (especially “Echidna’s Arf” and

Tweet Beat Steve Lawson Transforms His Career With Twitter. Srsly.

NOT CONTENT WITH JUST TRAILBLAZING AS A LOOP/LAYERING SONIC experimenter and solo bassist, Britain’s Steve Lawson is exploring the wild frontier of modern social networking, building a new career and a new life in the process. He met his wife, singer/songwriter Lobelia, on MySpace just two years ago, while collaborating on her music, and they’re now a unique duo act. But MySpace is so 2007. Through Lawson’s hyperactive presence on Twitter, a newer platform that limits postings to status updates of 140 characters or less, he’s built a network that’s allowed him and his wife to reach thousands of music fans at house concerts throughout America and the U.K. House concerts, you say? Indeed, they bypass traditional venues completely and organize intimate shows in people’s living rooms. Most of the outreach occurs on Twitter, where they gain “followers” one “tweet” at a time. (When you’re on Twitter, you “tweet,” and “followers” are subscribers to your “tweets.”)

King Crimson's ''Red'' (40th Anniversary Series)

For progressive and classic rock bands releasing albums in 1974, the bar was set pretty high. In the wake of milestone releases from bands like Yes, Genesis, Led Zeppelin, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer came King Crimson’s seminal album Red, in which the power trio of guitarist Robert Fripp, drummer Bill Bruford, and bassist/vocalist John Wetton took the seemingly welldrawn boundary between ethereal progressive rock and early hard rock and smashed it to dark, dissonant pieces. The result was an album that influenced future musicians—and bassists—far beyond what was imaginable at the time.