Soul of the Bass
From Chick Corea to Wayne Shorter – and to many others in between – John Patitucci has proven himself over and again as a bass player’s bass player. The guy you can rely on. He can drive the tune, he can take the lead, he is a support player. He can solo. He is all things to all people – capable of what the gig needs and the audience deserves.
Here with his first solo bass album in a few years, and in something of a continuation of the theme of his 1992 solo album, Heart of the Bass, Patitucci works here mostly by himself to show the various explorations of the bass, from rhythmic to melodic instrument, from supporting role to the lead instrument.
The opening title tune is a stirring, wistful wind of Charlie Haden-esque magic. From there (Seeds of Change) we hear what happens when the classic walking bassline heads into a jog. Morning Train (Spiritual) is a deft gospel-blues with just enough funk in the anchor notes. And then master-drummer Nate Smith duets with his crisp funk grooves, allowing Patitucci to layer a melodic solo over his own rhythm playing.
The deep bowed lines of Mystery of the Soul offer gorgeous cello-like evocations. Later, Patitucci will head further down that path with an actual cello piece, Bach’s Allemande in D Minor, here transposed to upright electric 6-string bass.
There’s a tribute to Elvin Jones’ unique groove (Elvin) where Patitucci, pardon the pun, single-handedly navigates those Afro-Cuban dances that Elvin delighted in and then the sombre Earth Tones brings us back to soundscape-y spaces where the magic is as much in the space between the notes as in the music played.
For bass players this will be a must. It should really go without saying. For jazz followers there’s plenty to love here and for open-minded music listeners keen to hear the role of the bass taken way beyond its usual background-colouring job Soul of the Bass is a must-hear.