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Ten Quintessential Blues Bassists

My list of influential bass players and records that I dig. There are obviously people not on this list that should be,* but I had to choose ten, so what can you do?

peace, love, & music, Alana Rocklin

1. Ray Brown
I can't say enough about Ray Brown's influence in the bass community. His walking lines are so melodic and inventive, not to mention his tone and rhythm. I was fortunate enough to catch him recently and his playing is better than ever, and he's a really great guy to talk with.
Recommended Listening:
Oscar Peterson Trio-We Get Requests (Verve, 314 521 442 $20.99)
Ray Brown, Cedar Walton, Elvin Jones-Something For Lester (OJC 412 $11.99)
Ray Brown-Some of My Best Friends Are...(Telarc 83373 $15.99)
2. Marcus Miller
Mmmmm, Marcus. Absolutely some of the funkiest bass playing ever. I'm always inspired by Marcus' note choice and space within his lines. His composing is also incredible, not to mention his skills on the bass clarinet.
Recommended Listening:
Marcus Miller-Tales (PRA 60501 $15.99)
Marcus Miller-Live and more (PRA/GRP PRD-9908 $16.99)
Miles Davis-Star People (CBS 25395 $19.99)
Miles Davis-Amandala (Columbia $11.99)
3. Oscar Pettiford
I have so much admiration for Oscar Pettiford because he was one of the first to treat the bass as a solo instrument, not just a rhythm section player. He played extremely fast be-bop lines effortlessly, while also being very melodic. If his tune "Tricotism" doesn't inspire you I don't know what will.
Recommended Listening: (unfortunately out of print at the moment)
Oscar Pettiford-Bohemia After Dark
Oscar Pettiford-Oscar Rides Again
4. Victor Wooten
If there has been one bassist that has transcended all others in the last 10 years it's got to be Victor. He's constantly inventing new techniques for the electric bass, taking slapping and thumping to a new level. But he's also extremely melodic, funky, and tasty.
Recommended Listening:
Bela Fleck & The Flecktones-Flight of The Cosmic Hippo (Warner 9-26562 $11.99)
Victor Wooten-What Did He Say? (Compass 7-4245 $15.99)
Victor Wooten-Show of Hands (Compass 7-4231 $16.99)
5. Charlie Haden
Charlie Haden is another huge influence on the spectrum of jazz. He's got an extremely innovative walking approach, and his soloing is just amazing. Until his latest Quartet West CD Art Of The Song, I had no idea, but the guy can sing great too.
Recommended Listening:
Ornette Coleman-Shape of Jazz To Come (Rhino/Atlantic 1317 $16.99)
Charlie Haden-Liberation Music Orchestra (Impule 188 $16.99)
6. Wilbur Ware
I really dig Wilbur Ware's time and melodic ideas. His solo on "Softly As A Morning Sunrise" is a must for transcribing. And of course he's from Chicago!
Recommended Listening:
Sonny Rollins-Live At The Village Vanguard Vol. 2 (Blue Note CDP 7 46518 2)
Wilbur Ware Quintet-The Chicago Sound (Riverside OJCCD-1737-2)
7. Paul Chambers
Man, if you want out and out swing, all you've got to do is listen to anything Paul Chambers is playing on. The way he digs into the bass and gets that amazing, huge tone gets me everytime. I also like his bowed solos!
Recommended Listening:
Miles Davis Quintet-Workin', or Cookin' or other `in's (OJC-296, OJC-128 $11.99)
John Coltrane-Giant Steps (Atlantic 1311 $11.99)
Paul Chambers-Whims of Chambers (Blue Note $11.99)
8. Jaco Pastorius
There will never be another Jaco. Anyone that picks up a fretless bass can't help playing like him. He's got to be the most influential electric bassist. His soloing, chordal concept, finger-funk, and extended techniques are all concepts others try to emulate. And I can't forget about his incredible gift for composing.
Recommended Listening:
Weather Report-Heavy Weather (Columbia $11.99)
Jaco-Jaco (Columbia $11.99)
Jaco-Pastorius-Live In New York Vol. 2 (Big World BW1002 $15.99) -All of the CD's in this series are stellar
9. Stanley Clarke
The first time I heard "School Days" it totally changed my life. For the life of me I couldn't figure out how he got that amazing tone. Then I heard him play upright on Return To Forever's first album and I was totally freaked out. Not many are able to double so effortlessly on electric and upright.
Recommended Listening:
Stanley Clarke-School Days (Epic EK 36975 $9.99)
Return To Forever-Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (Polydor 825 336 $9.99)
Chick Corea-Return To Forever (ECM 1022 $13.99)
10. Charles Mingus
For a period of time all I listened to was Mingus. I connected with his sense of groove and the freeness that he evokes. He was one of the great composers of our time, and no one has come up with better song titles.
Recommended Listening:
Charles Mingus-Ah Um (Columbia CK 40648 $16.99)
Charles Mingus-Mingus In Wonderland (Blue Note $11.99)
Charles Mingus-The Clown (Atlantic 7 90142 $11.99)



All reviewed items are available from the Jazz Record Mart, 1-800-684-3480.