‘Brazilian Girl’s’ Jesse Murphy : Progressive Rock Update With Brad Houser
Hello bassers. My name is Brad Houser and I have been given the privilege/honor of writing this column for Bass Musician Magazine. Over the next few months, I will be sharing a few different bands/artists that have fired me up and brought joy and excitement to my realm.
So, first off, one of my favorite bands of all time, Brazilian Girls. (Official website, (www.braziliangirls.info)
Brazilian Girls formed this decade in NYC, reportedly from jam sessions at NuBlu, a nightspot on Manhattan’s East Side. The group jammed under the name “Shitty Shitty Jam Band” (!) LOL At some point they became Brazilian Girls. There are no Brazilians and only one girl in the group. Brazilian Girls have released three CDs on Verve/Forecast since 2005. Their second CD, “Talk to La Bomb” is a bass tour de force, spotlighting the wizardry of Jesse Murphy.
Mr. Murphy, a classically trained bassist-turned-Fender-ninja, is simply outstanding on this CD. Previous to Brazilian Girls, Murphy had played with John Scofield on his CD, “Uberjam” and also did a short stint with Me’Shell Ndgeocello. His work on the title track “Talk to the Bomb” is nothing short of astonishing, sort of a combination of James Brown and avant-garde chamber music. The outro section of the bass track is simultaneously free-form and deep in the pocket, quite a feat indeed.
Another standout track is “All About Us”. Check out how the bass morphs from 3/4 to 4/4 in the intro. Genius! Harmonically speaking, this tune is practically a doctoral dissertation in A-flat ascending melodic minor. For extra bonus points, play along with this track and try to match Murphy’s laid back/energetic groove.
One of my personal favorites is “Sweatshop”. The song starts as a dub/reggae sort of thing and morphs through a soca sort of feel into jungle/drum-n-bass at the end. For maximum ear nirvana, experience the angelic chorus of voices in the outro through headphones. Sweet!
One striking feature of Murphy’s performance on this record is his brown tone, courtesy of his mid 60’s Fender Mustang, quite an anomaly in this age of boutique furniture basses. Check out BG’s YouTube footage from the David Letterman show, especially their wardrobe selection—true fashion pioneers. One can hear Jesse’s browntone Mustang in full effect in this clip.
“Talk to La Bomb”, while not specifically a rock record, is Progressive in the extreme. It is some of the most forward-thinking “Pop” music that I’ve ever heard. Brazilian Girls’ music strikes me as an exotic combination of R&B, fusion, new wave, afrobeat, ’50’s rock ‘n roll, and dance music. Think Fela, Deborah Harry, and James Brown having daiquiris at the beach in Rio. This CD lived in my player for months. I’ve listened to it at least a hundred times, no joke (I’m a bit obsessive). Upon further reflection, I am nominating “Talk to La Bomb” one of the top ten bass CDs of all time…
It is an honor to write this column for you, my fellow low-enders. Thank you, BH