John Mellencamp, No Better Than This [Rounder]

You’re John Mellencamp. You’ve got T-Bone Burnett producing your next record, a collection of classic American genres from rockabilly to old-school country and plenty in between.
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You’re John Mellencamp. You’ve got T-Bone Burnett producing your next record, a collection of classic American genres from rockabilly to old-school country and plenty in between. You want it to sound like it’s blasting out of a dusty old southern honky-tonk, so you’re going to record it with one microphone in a room, and those rooms will be Sun Studios in Memphis, a hotel room in San Antonio where Robert Johnson recorded, and a historic Baptist church in Savannah, Georgia. So who do you pick to play bass? Nashville’s Dave Roe (Johnny Cash, Dwight Yoakam, and many others), who delivers his bass lines with the solidity and conviction of someone used to making his instrument take up actual acoustic air and space, suiting the throwback production completely. And unlike many old records produced using the onemic recording method, you can hear both the plucked attack and the fundamental root-5 thump of Roe’s upright plain as day, anchoring the mix and driving the songs straight down a flat stretch of unknown road somewhere inland. There’s nothing fancy going on here down low; it’s just Roe’s meat-and-potatoes acoustic bass and perfect-pitch Americana.


Tim Marks: Nashville Natural

WHEN IT COMES TO TRACKING big time records, Nashville’s an old school town. The few folks who get those calls have usually put in 20 or 30 years of groundwork and have credits lists a mile long, so when Taylor

CHRISTIAN MCBRIDE's Straightahead Masterwork

HE’S 37 YEARS OLD AND HAS WON A GRAMMY, BEEN COMPARED TO RAY BROWN on upright, toured with Chick Corea and John McLaughlin on electric, gotten first-call treatment from both hardcore jazzers (Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner) and pop stars (Sting), arranged for orchestras, directed the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, obtained artist residencies at the Detroit and Monterey Jazz Festivals, and even conducted his own radio show about jazz and—wait for it—sports. But for Philly native Christian McBride, being referred to as one of the masters still evokes incredulity. “Are you kidding? I’m still the young phenom,” he says, chortling. “I can feel it now. I’ll be 70, and all those old jazz writers are gonna be going, Young Christian McBride, in his brief career . . . .”

Evan Marien: Between Worlds [Art of Life]

Youth will be served, the old saying goes, and 23- year-old Berklee graduate Evan Marien’s selfproduced solo debut Between Worlds serves notice that there’s a new bass monster in town. Armed with ridiculously fluid fingerstyle chops and a strong sense of groove, Marien applies a smooth, round, bridgepickup tone that owes plenty to Jaco Pastorius and Matt Garrison, but the dark, punchy goodness evokes Gary Willis and Jimmy Johnson just as strongly (especially on the fusion workouts “Fragment” and “Crossing Streets”). As the title suggests, his muso tendencies are mixed with a healthy dose of techno experimentation. “Lao’s Tao” and “Primal Virtue” are loaded with textured effects, far-eastern motifs, and meaty ring-modulator tones, and “Skitzo” features several keyboard-and-drum loops and a crazed, doubled bass melody, along with the requisite soaring improv. The solo piece “Eternals and Apathetics” is an unpredictable virtuoso delight. Compositi

Still Learning: From Stadiums To The Studio,Stefan Lessard Isn’t Done Exploring

BACKSTAGE AT A HUMMING, SOLD-OUT 40,000-SEAT VANDERBILT STADIUM IN Nashville, Dave Matthews Band bassist Stefan Lessard is quietly pushing towards his own artistic horizons. With a new computer-based preamp in his live rig, film scoring work on the IMAX movie Grand Canyon Adventure, and a collection of quirky covers with his band Yukon Kornelius landing tracks on a recent Warren Miller snow- boarding DVD, Lessard is not just sitting back waiting for the next Dave Matthews Band release to express himself.