Kyle Eastwood, Songs from the Chateau [Rendezvous Music],Avishai Cohen, Seven Seas [Sunnyside Records]


What bonds Eastwood and Cohen, who reside in different regions of the jazz spectrum, is the steadfast notion that compositions come first. Eastwood’s fifth outing is cast through a vivid black and white lens, thanks to the two-horn, post-bop hue of his Europe-based quintet. Key scenes include the rollicking Les McCann-ish blues opener, “Marciac,” Eastwood’s rhythmic subhooks and solos on the stately “Andalucia,” and his stellar electric bass support and blowing on the angular samba “Over the Line.”

Cohen also sharpens his focus to memorable effect. Having toured with the core quintet—as well as the Hebrew, Middle Eastern, Andalusian, and classical colors—from his last CD, Aurora, Cohen is able to seamlessly sum up his outside-the-jazz-box efforts on Seven Seas. “Dreaming” is a Metheny-esque, wordless vocal excursion; “Seven Seas” is awash in Cohen’s trademark odd-meter mastery; while “Two Roses” crackles with a call-and-response, bass-and-horn head over an Arabic-Cuban groove, as soaring vocals, film noir horns, and Cohen’s stirring solo leap from the track. (CJ)


Slap Happy From March and April 1991

PLAY BETTER NOW, PROCLAIMED THE cover of BP’s second bimonthly issue. Inside, we offered five technique-oriented features, ranging from a primer on tapping to a duet arrangement of Debussy’s “First Arabesque” for extended-range basses.

NGUYÊN LÊ, Songs of Freedom [ACT Music]

Vietnamese guitarist Lê turns in one of the standout sides of the year with his exotic, intoxicating interpretations of eleven classic pop songs, backed by the formidable core of bassist Linley Marthe, vibist Illya Amar, and drummer Stéphane Galland, plus a host of guest vocalists and percussionists. “Eleanor Rigby” immediately sets the stage with its haunting, intertwined Asiatic themes, funk feel, and jazz reharms.

Retro-Rama: 1989 Ernie Ball Music Man Stingray 5

THE FIRST 5-STRING BASS GUITAR, the Fender Bass V, was introduced in 1965 and featured a high C string and only 15 frets. It was far from a commercial success, and the 5-string concept went into hibernation for quite a while. But by the early 1980s, keyboards, synth bass, and detuned guitars began to exert a strong influence on popular music. Faced with these new pressures and enabled by significant improvements in low-end sound reproduction, bassists soon began to extend their range downward with low B strings.