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