Top 10 Solo Bass CD's

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Jato, Nov 8, 2000.

  1. Jato


    Nov 2, 2000
    Pertaining to the solo bassist question, here is the defense of my position(no certain order):

    1)Michael Manring-Thonk
    2)Jaco Pastorious-Jaco Pastorious
    3)Victor Wooten-Yin/Yang
    4)John Patittucci-On the Corner
    5)John Patittucci-Sketches
    6)John Patittucci-Patittucci
    7)Victor Bailey-Low Blow
    8)Marcus Miller-The sun also lies(?)
    9)Jaco Tribute-Who loves you
    10)Adam Nitti-Balance
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I agree that the debate would be more "productive" if we looked at actual examples of music that we can all compare. But I think your choice shows up the main problem - what is "solo bass music" ? Is it a track or CD that is played just on bass - electric or acoustic - do we allow overdubs or has it to be one bass, as it could be performed live? What if the bass player sings as well?

    Secondly, do we actually include recordings where the bass player is the "leader" or featured soloist, or just the principle composer? I would see Jaco's first solo album as closer to this second group, although "Portrait of Tracy" is a "pure" - one bass, one take solo piece.

    In Jazz there are lots of albums where the bass player is the "leader" - as in composer, soloist etc. , but this is no different to the leader being a sax or trumpet player and an album by Dave Holland's quintet, for example, is treated no differently by Jazz listeners, just because Dave is the bass player. Prime Directive was released by ECM and was treated more or less in the same way that say a Jan Garbarek Jazz release would have been over here in Europe.

    A lot of John Patitucci's and Marcus Miller albums fall into this category as well - they are the leader and composer/arranger, but it's not just them alone and in Jazz, even drummer's can write tunes!! ;)
  3. Jato


    Nov 2, 2000
    I think you'll find that all of my choices represent my definition of the complete "solo bassist", meaning...tone/chops/compositional ability. These players compose most of the tunes on each of the albums. In the numbers they didnt compose, they do an arrangement that fixes their personal stylistic stamp on the tune. And they do this rather tastefully, IMO. In each case, you could listen, if you're a fan of contemporary bass solo type music, and identify the player. Or, if you couldnt i.d. the player, you would try like hell to find out who it was, and have a new CD to add to your "must have" list.
    Again, vocals dont count here, as the primary instrument featured in most of the solo segments is the electric, or upright bass. My choices leave no ambiguities as to what is on display; again, IMO. Tasty compositions that are centered around the Bass as solo instrument.
  4. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    I think Bruce's question is a good one - bassist as leader isn't a solo bass album as such any more than coltrane was a solo sax player with his quartet (he did play solo sax, but that's different from his usual stuff...)

    solo bass for me, is just bass - layered is still solo I guess, cos it's just them...

    So Manring and Wooten both do a lot of that, especially live.

    Colin Hodgkinson does it, as do various other people - check the solo bass network links pages for more info -

    my fave solo bass tunes would be Manring's 'Enormous Room' and 'Book Of The Living and Dying', Abe Laboriel's 'Breakfast At Tiffanies', Oteil's Hymn to the Nile...


  5. Jato


    Nov 2, 2000
    Points well taken, Steve and Bruce.
    I will look into the solo bass networks links pages.
    One other point I might add. This point applies to some extent to anyone whose name is on the cover of an album or CD. (ex. Chick Corea, Jaco Pastorious,
    John McLaughlin, Marcus Miller, Miles Davis, etc.).
    All of these guys have released "Solo Albums" or Projects, so why not define that, instead of defining the music contained within? Is that what you two are trying to do? To me, most solo projects (with or without "supporting" players) convey the named artist's vision through a deliberate sequence of creative works over which he or she has primary control. And in the making of all of these creative decisions, the music develops into a statement that is usually greater than that one artist's vision, but hopefully still faithful to it. This concept of "solo projects" is my definition of solo bass music. Semantics is the only issue here, but I think you are missing my point if you stick to who's doing what and when. What makes a CD or album "solo" to me, is that it is a musical work presented from the point of view of one artist. Playing a solo on that project is not really what I am referring to...completely. Its only a small piece of the big picture. There are trees, and there are forests. I was hooked initially back to bass oriented music by the trees (bass solos within a musical work), but have been more strongly moved by the larger vision and creativity that contemporary bassists posess. I like some solo bassist's creative vision when composing, and how it translates into a finished song, and pluralistically/ album or CD.
  6. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I'm in agreement with Bruce & Steve-
    ...there are bassist as leader albums, which are usually different from "solo bass" albums.(though sometimes they meet...Jaco's 1st record, Oteil's album, etc).

    I've said it before-
    I was never into "bass" albums, "guitar" albums, "drum" albums, per se.
    One reason I really dug Patitucci's debut is 'cause it didn't sound like a bass player's sounded like a band effort(IMO).

    If you wanna hear some "recent" ACOUSTIC bass-led albums, here's a few I've picked up in the past year or so-
    1)William Parker-PAINTER'S SPRING
    -Hamid Drake on drums & Daniel Carter on horns. My favorite Parker album, by far. He & Drake are rippin' from the first bar. Carter's playin' is a little on the Avant Garde side.

    2)John Lindberg-THE CATBIRD SINGS
    -Just got this two days ago. Pretty happenin' recording with Andrew Cyrille(drums), Larry Ochs(sax), & W.L. Smith(trumpet). 7 Originals by Lindberg, 2 covers(Mingus & Garrison). "Hydrofoil", dedicated to Fred Hopkins, is baaaaaaddd!

    3)Dave Holland-PRIME DIRECTIVE
    -Already been discussed at this site. Awesome album.

    4)Avashai Cohen-COLORS
    -Pretty good release; I still prefer his debut, ADAMA.

    5)Michael Formanek-LOW PROFILE
    -Cool stuff.

    6)Ben Allison-SEVEN ARROWS
    -IMO, one of the best "unknowns" out there(though everyone in NYC's Jazz scene knows him). IMO, Allison's a terrific writer; some parts sound written out, some sound improv'd, some sound Free. Kinda in the same vibe as John Lindberg's stuff.
  7. Jato


    Nov 2, 2000
    Thanks Jim,
    I will look into these, as upright is only a more recent acquired taste for me. It took a while, because it takes more effort (for me, anyway), to hear clearly the woody tones of upright. But, definitely sweet and worth the effort. I would recommend anything by Christian McBride, too. His latest, "Science Fiction" I think the title is, shows a mature bassist in his prime, doing some great stuff on upright and electric. Check it out.
  8. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Hey Steve, we can't get any of the Back Door stuff or anything else with Colin on it over on this side of the pond, it's been out of print for years.

    What's in print in the UK?
  9. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I got that McBride album the same day I picked up Cohen's COLORS. Both the Parker & the Lindberg discs have the bass way up in the mix(no piano/chords to clutter things up!) :D

    I have all all your Top-10 with the exception of THONK.
  10. Jato


    Nov 2, 2000
    Of your 6 recommendations in the upright category, which one would you recommend for someone like myself (just getting into upright tones, and maybe not ready for avant garde) to start with?
  11. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I'd go with Holland's PRIME DIRECTIVE.
    Billy Kilson(drums)
    Robin Eubanks(trombone)
    Chris Potter(saxes)
    Steve Nelson(vibes)
    Dave Holland(bass)

    The two horn players sound *great* together; Kilson is terrific...too, you get a band without a piano, per se, though Nelson's comping on the vibes does smack of somebody playing a Fender Rhodes electric piano.
    The interplay between Holland & Kilson(IMO)is what it's all about.

    Do you have sound on your computer? If so, hit & check out some soundbites; that's what I do! :D
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I'd go along with that - I saw this Quintet play this music live in my home town Brighton - at an ECM "festival" - it was amazing stuff, as JimK says - more open because of the vibes being the only chordal instrument. The soloing was great and they stayed behind afterwards to sign albums.

    I didn't mean to argue about definitions, but I do think that when people see "solo bass" they think of just a bass player on their own - no other musicians. But if we are talking of solo albums by bassists, then there is a much larger range and a huge number of Jazz albums.

    How about a recommendation for a British electric bass player who leads his own quintet and writes and solos. Franc 'O Shea's album "Esprit" has been in my CD player for the last year and fits into both categories. It has a couple of tracks which are just solo bass - and it also has a number of tracks with other players - a regular small group Jazz line-up with Franc as featured solist and composer throughout.

    As for double bass "solo" work , I would like to add Nils Henning Ørsted Pederson - I have heard some amazing stuff from him on Radio 3 and I taped a concert from the Brecon Jazz festival - incredible melodic solo pieces, with huge tone. I 'm not sure which of his solos albums to recommend, but I think anything is worth a listen.
  13. Jato


    Nov 2, 2000
    Thanks guys,
    If they are both available at tower, I will zip over there and give them a listen after this post. I guess that Bass Player led projects are, and have been pretty near tops on my musical agenda. And I love good bass solo work as well...both forms give me inspiration to keep going in my own quest as a developing bassist.

    Thanks, and have a good day Gentlemen.
  14. DaveBeny


    Mar 22, 2000
    London, UK

    You're correct in saying that the Back Door albums are still out of print after over 20 years. I spoke to Colin quite recently. The original Back Door lineup have recorded a new version of their debut album, 'Back Door', and some new material as well. This will be released on a major label by the end of this year.

    Colin has a solo album out on a German label called 'The Bottom Line'. It consists of original and covered ragtime and blues pieces applied to the bass guitar. All performed solo-style, though there are three tracks that feature additional musicians, and one track has two bass parts overdubbed. A great album, which has had a huge impact on my current approach to the instrument.

    You can listen to clips from the album by going to and searching for Colin Hodgkinson. Though the site's in German, you should be able to find it easily.

    I'm interviewing Colin soon for this site, so keep your eyes open for that!


  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    After putting in my recommendation for Franc 'O Shea's album "Esprit", I found that Steve Lawson actually has a review/interview on his site :

    Written for Bassist magazine - sounds like Steve likes it as well!

    Two of the tracks are also featured on an album of stuff from bass players - maybe this would be a good buy for anyone who doen't have any of this before, but wants to get into music written by bassists :
  16. Jato


    Nov 2, 2000
    I did listen to and order the Dave Holland CD (Prime Directive). I checked Amazon/Tower and neither had the Franc O'Shea. How would I get that one? I am very intrigued after reading the Steve Lawson interview. Sounds like good stuff!
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Alltone records - the label it is on, have their own online shop and they appear to be selling Esprit (I got my copy locally)- try this link :

    [Edited by Bruce Lindfield on 11-09-2000 at 11:59 AM]
  18. Jato


    Nov 2, 2000
    Just emailed Keith Valler at Alltone in the UK. He said that, to his knowledge, "Esprit" is not available here.
    He also said that the Alltone Records website is still in the beginning stages of development. They are going to offer their CD's online in the next 4-6 weeks. He finally stated that if you click on the CD cover at the website, you can hear tracks from it. So, I've bookmarked the site, and will wait patiently. Gotta go and 'sample some tracks'.
    See Ya
  19. VicMan119


    Oct 19, 2000
    Definetely some great picks, I agree with most all of your list. I'm so glad Adam Nitti is appreciated; I met him about a month ago in Nashville and he just POURS himself out through his, his style is really unique.
    The only thing I would add to your list would be
    Victor Wooten- What did he say
    I was listening to it last night, have had it for about a year.....and wow. The songwriting, everything on that album is so great and tasteful. I think that should have been nominated for a grammy too!
    (oh yeah....and "a show of hands," as far as bass goes, is definetely a #1 for solo too, that should be up there)
  20. Jato


    Nov 2, 2000
    Tell me about your time at the Vic W. Bass/Nature Camp in Sept. Email me at

    See Ya