Julie Slick, Julie Slick [julieslick.com]

It was audacious enough for Philadelphia bassist Julie Slick to tour with Adrian Belew at just 19, let alone to rack up experience with Stewart Copeland, Ann Wilson, Jon Anderson, and Alice Cooper all by age 24.
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It was audacious enough for Philadelphia bassist Julie Slick to tour with Adrian Belew at just 19, let alone to rack up experience with Stewart Copeland, Ann Wilson, Jon Anderson, and Alice Cooper all by age 24. So why not a highly experimental and delightfully challenging debut solo album as well? This avant-garde instrumental fusion of progressive rock, funk, and electronica isn’t about virtuosic soling, or compositional high-wire walking, or even song form at all. It’s more about sounds, textures, and moments in Slick’s inventive sonic kaleidoscope. Accompanied by King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp, and drummers Pat Mastelotto, Marco Minnemann, and brother Eric Slick, Julie creates an uptempo, acid-tripped, angularmelodied loop soundtrack (“Mela”), a Pink Floyd-inspired minor progressive dirge (“Nothing to Be Done”), a hypnotic, Nine Inch Nails Ghosts-era pattern with bells, chimes, hand claps, and driving bass (“Shadow Trip”), and a slab of hardcharging punk electronica (“The Rivalry” and “Cage Match”). Slick’s collection of grooves and soundscapes are unpredictable and highly original, and her aggressively picked bass somehow gives it all a fresh, anti-muso edge. Some might even recommend playing this disc at 20 after four. We wouldn’t argue, but from where we sit, it’s worth spinning anytime.


Augury Fragmentary Evidence

Here’s a welcome development— as death metal turns ever more technical, the bass is becoming not just increasingly audible (there’s a start!), but more complex, counterpunctual, and essential to the actual song. That’s certainly the case with Montreal-based Augury’s second album Fragmentary Evidence, as bassist Dominic “Forest” LaPointe summons an unholy alliance of influences—Jaco Pastorius, Steve DiGiorgio, Adam Nitti?! — and throws down fierce, technique-driven lines all over the necks of his fretless, his 6- string, you name it. With a dark, warm, growling tone that somehow gets sweet up high, LaPointe opens “Sovereigns Unknown” with a furious tapping and fingerpicked riff, drives “Simian Cattle” with a neck-spanning, double- stop tri-tone lick, and performs a chordal/arpeggiated tour-de-force on “Jupiter To Ignite.” The deeper into the disc you go, the more you want to hear what he does next. So, metal bassists: come for the expected payoff of well-delive

Derek Frank, Let The Games Begin [www.dfrank.net]

The trendsters say the ’80s are hot right now, but Los Angeles sideman vet Derek Frank is having none of that on his supergroovy debut album Let The Games Begin. Right from the bass-anddrums- only downbeat of disc opener “Breakout,” it’s an unapologetic, bassdrenched homage to everything cool about rhythm sections from the ’70s, and Frank’s ’63 Fender P-Bass (strung with flats, of course) is the star of the show, in front of the mix and carving fiercely. Games isn’t stuck in that era’s rut, either; there’s just enough modernity sprinkled about to avoid easy caricature, and today’s thumb stylists will appreciate the Marcus-influenced slapmelody approach to the Hall & Oates classic “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do).” But make no mistake—this is mostly a smorgasbord of vintage keys, unison horn lines, and filter-soaked funky bass that’s designed to make the booty move while the disco ball spins. Somewhere, the Brand New Heavi

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.

Stefon Harris and Blackout

Stefon Harris and Blackout Urbanus [Concord Jazz, 2009] Washington, D.C. native Ben Williams first met vibraphonist/composer Stefon Harris when Williams was an 8th grader. Apparently it was just the head start he needed to get into this absolutely burning modern jazz outfit before even turning 25. This group is not screwing around; the heads, forms, syncopations, and grooves drawing on everything from swing, R&B, funk, pop and hip-hop are aggressive, challenging, and downright butt-shaking when they want to be. Williams has already won a bunch of jazz competition awards and played with Wynton Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, and Meshell Ndegeocello, but in case you need further convincing, moments in three consecutive tracks will blow your hair back: the funky unison ostinato in “Tankitifed,” the syncopations and bass breaks over the upswing blues form of “Shake It For Me,” and the frenetic hard swing groove in the jagged “Minor March.” The album’s bon