TIMOTHY B. SCHMIT
LEAP OF FAITH [Benowen]
Always an underrated songwriter, veteran Eagles bassist/vocalist Timothy B. Schmit spins some memorable yarns on his sixth solo outing—all delivered within his folk-rock, country-rock, yacht-rock, and rock & roll wheelhouse. The reggaetinged “Slow Down” and “All Those Faces” establish Schmit’s overall preference for rich, minor-chord colors. Downstairs, his bass leads the backbeat pulse of “What Should I Do,” while “You’re So Wild” starts with a country two feel before Schmit’s upper-register riffing provides the subhook in the edgy chorus. Closing matters is the horn and accordion-infused ballad gem, “This Waltz.”
ROBERT GLASPER EXPERIMENT
ARTSCIENCE [Blue Note]
Derrick Hodge is part of a fiery young vanguard of players who are equally at home in hip-hop as they are in jazz; he’s held down the low end for Q-Tip, Maxwell, Mos Def, and plenty more, but his work with the RGE is where he really gets to stretch out, usually on one of his tricked-out Callowhill basses. On ArtScience, he moves effortlessly from hard bop on upright (the aptly named “This Is Not Fear”) to George Duke-flavored funk fusion (“Day to Day”), while his Jaco-isms on “No One Like You” prove there’s essentially no limit to where he can take the instrument.
Having spent years holding it down as Prince’s bass player, Ida Nielsen knows how important it is to be truly authentic in her music, and nothing could be more evident on her third solo album. The record is full of hip-hop, funk, and R&B jams that find Nielsen commanding all of the instruments, while keeping her tremendous bass work in the forefront. Before his death, Prince himself was smitten with his bassist’s new material, and per usual, we agree with the Purple One.
BEYOND NOW [Motema]
The celebrated saxophonist and his frontfacing crew (keyboardist Jason Lindner, drummer Mark Guiliana, and bassist Tim Lefebvre) return with their first album since serving as the late David Bowie’s band on his final release, Blackstar. In that spirit, they tackle two Bowie covers (“A Small Plot of Land” and “Warszaa”) and covers by Deadmau5 and Mutemath, amid exploratory originals. Lefebvre moves from vintage tones to savvy, pedal-induced sonics while anchoring and engaging in the interplay on the title track and “Shake Loose,” and trailblazing his way through “Faceplant.”
KINGS OF LEON
The Followill brothers have come a long way from the innocent yearnings of their hit “Use Somebody,” but they haven’t lost their bloodhound’s nose for an arena-ready hook. Youngest brother Jared Followill arguably has the most important role in the band; the shifting dynamics of “Waste a Moment,” the Kings’ latest single, would fall flat without a bass line that’s upfront and locked tight, but still pushing the beat. In fact, throughout WALLS (“We Are Like Love Songs”), his steady hand sets the tone, from the saw-toothed banger “Over” to the summery melody of “Conversation Piece.”
SCORCHED EARTH, VOL. 1 [Warner Music Canada]
Blues guitar virtuoso Philip Sayce is known for his blazing solos and soulful writing, so it’s only fitting that on his new live album, things get heated right from the start. Longtime Sayce low-ender Joel Gottschalk lays down heavy grooves on songs that blend old-school Delta feels with modern rock moments. Recorded live at the Silver Dollar earlier this year, Gottschalk dwells tight in the backbeat of the pocket and provides tasteful licks that truly enhance the guitar-driven trio.
DAY BREAKS [Blue Note]
From the get-go, Norah Jones makes it clear on her sixth album that her jazz leanings are firmly back in the front seat. The opening cut “Burn” is a stunner: a smoky, coffeehouse jam with John Patitucci laying down a hypnotic rhythm on upright, with none other than Wayne Shorter on soprano sax. From there, the music unfolds like a veritable bass clinic, with appearances by Vicente Archer (“Don’t Be Denied”), Tony Macelli (“Sleeping Wild”), and Chris Thomas, who handles the bulk of the 12-song set, shining brightest on the liltingly funky title track.
DE LA SOUL
AND THE ANONYMOUS NOBODY [A.O.I.]
Eight years after their last release, hip-hop royalty De La Soul is back with a crowd-funded album full of unorthodox beats and diverse collaborations with everyone from Snoop to Little Dragon to David Byrne. Venturing far from traditional hip-hop compositions, De La brought in a crew of bass players including Dave Wilder, Ethan Phillips, and James Jones III, although the bulk of the playing comes from Kaveh Rastegar, who shines brightest on upright and electric on “Drawn,” “Royalty Capes,” and “Exodus.”