Los Angeles pianist Graves, a founding member of the West Coast Get Down and veteran of Stanley Clarke’s band, releases his robust solo debut, featuring a Kamasi Washington-led horn section, drummer Ronald Bruner Jr., and bass aces Hadrien Feraud and Thundercat. Inspired by The Urantia Book (which also influenced Jaco), Graves’ compositions boast dense layers of melody and rhythm marked by striking harmonic shifts. Feraud caps his stellar support work on six of the album’s eight tracks with an arching solo on the lilting “Andromeda,” while Thundercat drives the spry “End of Corporatism,” in seven, with a relentless, probing support line that gives way to an expressive solo on his signature 6-string.
LARRY CORYELL & THE ELEVENTH HOUSE
As Larry Coryell’s main creative vehicle at the height of his mid-1970s powers, the Eleventh House was a jazz-fusion juggernaut, and bassist John Lee was there almost from the beginning. The fire was still brightly lit when they reunited in 2015, prompting this triumphant studio session. Lee is a muscular presence on “Dragon’s Way” and the aptly titled “Funky Stuff,” melding minds with drummer Alphonse Mouzon with an exuberance that makes the tour that might have been—following the passing of both Mouzon and Coryell in rapid succession—all the more tantalizing.
Always keen on exploring new sounds and taking their audience along for the ride, Fredrik Wallin and his Swedish synth-pop crew have unleashed a fresh new vibe on their fifth album that blends ’80s new-wave dance with sexy R&B feels from a few decades back. Kicking out big pillows of synth bass and tight pockets of electric grooves, Fredrik provides the head-bob factor for the diverse album’s entirety. Enjoy the depth he provides on “High,” “Should I,” and “Strobe Light.”
I CAN FEEL THE NIGHT AROUND ME
Nightlands is the alter ego of Dave Hartley—perhaps better known as the bassist for Philly rockers the War On Drugs, but equally deserving of recognition as a polished songwriter and producer. On his third album, he digs right into his signature trippy, tranced-out grooves with “Lost Moon,” the song’s bass line tracing a winding, wistful melody in and around Hartley’s layered vocal harmonies. Further on, “Moonbathing” (getting the theme here?) locks into a bossa-style mood, giving Hartley room to stretch out with Patitucci-like precision.
WORLD GONE MAD
In Ra Diaz’s debut with the Venice Beach thrash-punk institution, the Chile-born bassist joins the ranks of Robert Trujillo, Thundercat, and other pivotal players who came before him. Much like those alumni, Diaz confidently brings the low end on an album that shifts back and forth from blazing-fast beatdowns to heavy slow-burners. His shredding on “Clap Like Ozzy” and “One-Finger Salute” boast moments that will make headbangers and bass players alike stop and listen.
BROWN ACID: THE FOURTH TRIP
The fourth installment of this popular compilation series of long-lost vintage ’60s/’70s proto-metal and stoner rock features some epic bass playing from an obscure list of bands. From Stone Garden’s “Oceans Inside Me” and Headstones’ “Carry Me On” to Bungi’s “Numbers,” Zekes’ “Comin Back,” and Bad Axe’s “Coachmen,” you’ll find a plethora of primordial playing featuring fabulously fuzzed-out tones and Jack Casady-like jams, all worth nicking for your own bag of tricks.
MULATU OF ETHIOPIA
As the godfather of Ethiopian jazz, Mulatu Astatke crafted a gritty, psychedelic sound that was perfectly calibrated for early-’70s New York, where he spent much of his time after studying music at Berklee. The personnel on this classic set is lost to time, but it’s a safe bet a young Robert Cuadrado is holding down the low end. One of the immensely talented youngbloods on New York’s Latin jazz scene, Cuadrado had already lent his funky touch to Astatke’s Afro-Latin Soul sessions a few years earlier. Among the highlights here: the loping, spooky “Kulunmanqueleshi” and the hard-swinging “Chifara.”
TOKYO MOTOR FIST
It’s all big hooks and hair-raising riffs on this melodic-rock throwback to ’80s decadence. Greg Smith, currently of Ted Nugent’s band, throws down the bottom-heavy, infectious grooves on anthems like “Picking Up the Pieces,” “Love Me Insane,” and “Shameless” with the tone, temperament, and restraint of someone who truly knows how to play for the song.
LIVE AT DUNK! FEST
Recorded on May 7, 2016 on a festival stage in Belgium, Russian Circles’ latest live album captures a fiery set from the instrumental post-metal trio from Chicago. As always, Brian Cook’s M.O. is tone—towering waves of dirty frequencies that come from his massive pedalboard of sonic weapons. In embellishing extended versions of songs from their last several records, Cook dishes creative improvisations through his picked riffing, which venture well beyond the album versions.