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Respecting the Music With Phil Baker: Donald Byrd and Pepper Adams

Meet Phil Baker –

DONALD BYRD & PEPPER ADAMS
MOTOR CITY SCENE
Track 2.-Philson

Pepper Adams – Baritone Sax
Donald Byrd – Trumpet
Kenny Burrell – Guitar
Tommy Flanagan – Piano
Louis Hayes – Drums
Paul Chambers – Bass

Bethlehem Archives
R2-75993

I’ve always found the blues fascinating. They can often, as in this case, be simple and complex at the same time. In the hands of these master musicians it can become sublime. Woven through the simple twelve bar structure are some of the best solos that you’ll hear of this genre.

Paul Chambers has always been an inspiration to me. His swinging feel, note choice, gigantic tone and melodic solos are something I have always aspired to. He was the first call for everyone from Miles Davis to Wynton Kelly and the house bassist for Blue Note records.

This record, recorded in the early 1960s, might be Chambers at his all time best (although I have not know him to make a bad record). The bass sound is one of the best I have heard.

To start, a medium F blues with a chorus of walking bass is a simple yet effective way to set the mood. This formula would be repeated about 15 years later by the great Ron Carter on a record by the drummer Mel Lewis on a record simply called, Mel Lewis and Friends. Chamber’s lines are always supportive as he and the rest of the rhythm section provide the perfect canvas for the soloists to paint on. To be relaxed and swinging and yet intense is a goal that not all rhythm sections achieve.

The four choruses of Chamber’s solo (that starts at 8:22) are a brief history of jazz upright bass playing. He artfully interweaves blues ideas and be-bop licks with perfect timing and phrasing. His lyricism rivals that of the other soloists.

This recording is but one example of why Paul Chambers was one of the most recorded and respected bassists of his generation.

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