Yves Carbonne, A Life [yvescarbonne.com]

You probably can’t play Yves Carbonne’s instruments, and not because he’s stingy (not true), or a lefty (true), or French (true).
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You probably can’t play Yves Carbonne’s instruments, and not because he’s stingy (not true), or a lefty (true), or French (true). He lives on the frontier of bass development, using grand-pianoregistered axes like the Jerzy Drozd “12- string semi-acoustic fretless sub-bass” and the Noguera YC 8-string to bring his compositions to life. Yet Carbonne’s latest disc doesn’t overwork to validate his eclectic bass arsenal. He merely uses it to create some truly compelling music, driven by bass in registers it doesn’t usually occupy. The “bass” lives in three distinct places—high, emulating an acoustic guitar; middle, usually where the fretless melody is; and low, which can be really low on occasion. Highlights include sweet bluesy chordal comping on “Self Made Believer” and “Fired,” a patient, gorgeous melodic solo in “A Life,” and the catchy all-bass slow jam of “Evening In New York.” Then there’s Marcus Miller’s guest turn on “New Love,” a slow, hardswinging funk with Marcus on lead and Yves on sub-bass/chords. It’s a rewarding marriage of Miller’s laid-back grit and Carbonne’s smoothness, punctuating the disc and bringing the amazing Carbonne back down to earth with the rest of us, if only for four minutes.


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

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

Keb’ Mo’: Live & Mo [Yolabelle]

After winning multiple Grammy’s and other accolades, blues-based singer/songwriter Keb’ Mo’ is at the point where you just know his records are going to be good. Live & Mo’ contains both live tracks— with Reggie McBride on bass—and studio recordings featuring seasoned-pro bassists Les King, Kevin McCormick, Andrew Gouche (who throws down some nasty, slow funk on “Government Cheese”), and even Keb’ Mo’ himself. But live cuts are the real ticket here; McBride has been Keb’s right-hand man on bass for over a decade, and he shows why on the old-school deep groove of “More Than One Way Home,” and his understated, songdriving work in “The Action”: He refuses to get in Keb’s way, yet always keeps it interesting and musical. Reggie’s swinging, thumbmuted line in “Shave Yo’ Legs” (now there’s a lyric you don’t want to step on!) and his slow, grinding, greasy shuffle groove in “Perpetu

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 . . . .”

Miroslav Vitous Re-imagines A Different Weather Report

IN THE TITLE OF VIRTUOSO JAZZ bassist Miroslav Vitous’s latest album, Remembering Weather Report [ECM, 2009], the word “remembering” carries a lot of weight. He was right there with Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul at the beginning of what we now know to be the seminal fusion band of the ’70s, but his era [Weather Report and I Sing The Body Electric, Columbia, 1971] was a more experimental, streamof- consciousness project than the form-and-groove driven, Pastorius-powered version. It’s this earlier vision and spirit that Vitous honors on Remembering. This allacoustic recording is a largely free-form improvised look back to what was, with a hopeful look ahead to the future. As Vitous says, the goal is “awakening the spirit of the direct communication, as now is the time to go in that direction. The old concept is long past-due expired.”

Producer-Bassist Tommy Sims Getting A Master’s From Jamerson U. On Michael McDonald’s “All I Need”

IT’S MASTERCLASS, EVERYONE, WHICH means a detailed dissection of a bass line played by a high-level pro, along with insight from the player who gave us this amazing thing to learn from. But this one’s different in that our featured artist, Nashville-based A-list producer/bassist/ songwriter Tommy Sims, consciously sought to emulate someone he’d been studying for years: the immortal James Jamerson. And when someone who’s written, played, and produced for Eric Clapton (“Change the World,” anybody?), Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, Kelly Clarkson, CeCe Winans, the Neville Brothers, and Garth Brooks says he’s studying someone, it’s best to just listen to what he has to say in full.

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