Jauqo III-X Presents “One Night of Bass. Live at The Elbo Room, Chicago”, 12/01/2009
Meet Tim Seiser
Everybody here at BMM recognizes the importance of supporting the bass community. This magazine does it thru a strong online presence and the use of the online BMM community. Thankfully, there are also many bass players around the United States, and internationally, who bolster the bass community thru concerts, clinics and various events. One of these events that have been taking place for a couple years now is “One Night of Bass”, organized and conceived by Chicago bassist Jauqo III-X. This is more or less the only consistent event of this type that takes place in Chicago, and always features some of Chicago’s, and the greater Midwest area’s, best bassists. This is the second of these concerts that I have attended and I was very excited to write this article and help expose a larger audience to this low-end gathering.
First on the bill was Chicago gospel great John Owens. I was a little late to the event and missed John’s first song and came in midway thru the second. I was immediately bobbing my head to the solid groove John and his drummer were laying down. John followed his second song with a very nice extended bass solo intro, which led into a slower ballad type song. John really got a chance to shine on this song, using a nice chorus effect on his bass. John is a great player who had a great band with him, all of whom embodied the Chicago gospel sound.
Next up on the program was the now legendary Bill Dickens.
I had never heard Bill perform live before so I was stoked to finally get the chance to check him out. Bill is not only an amazing bassist but also an amazing producer/band leader, showcased by his uncanny choice of musicians. He truly had some of Chicago’s best musicians in his all-star band. Bill got straight to business with a killer version of the classic Herbie Hancock tune “Butterfly”, which featured a double timed solo trading section. He then played some original tunes from his soon to be released CD and really brought the house down.
Following a bassist like Bill Dickens is no easy task, but Scott Pazera is not your average bassist. Scott is one of the most versatile and talented musicians I have ever come across. Scott took the stage with yet another great band featuring a full horn section and a drummer, no chordal instrument necessary. Scott opened the set paying homage to Jaco with the “Soul Intro” from Jaco’s “Birthday Concert” c.d., which then led into a funky original Pazera composition. The second tune was a swinging bebop tune, Conception, which featured Scott on the melody, in addition to walking some great bass lines. Scott finished up with a slick arrangement of Stevie Wonder’s “Too High” which gave him the chance to showcase his jaw dropping walking/chord comping skills on his trusty Nordstrand 7 string.
Next up on the bill was a new name to me, which is always a good thing. Vuyani Wakaba is a South African born bassist who now lives in Chicago. Vuyani’s band was very tight and I could tell that they had more than likely done quite a bit of playing around Chicago. Vuyani layed down the groove on all three of the songs his group performed. The highlight for me was his rendition of the Herbie Hancock tune “PP Head” from “The Return of The Headhunters” album. Vuyani nailed the breaks and grooves on this bass feature and was aptly supported by his solid band.
The program kept on running with the next performer, who is a truly a phenomenal bassist, Bill Clements. Bill is widely recognized as the one arm bass player. Bill is a groove machine and always pushes new territory with his band. Bill’s playing is always high intensity and always grooving. Bill’s group played an extended improvised selection to open their high energy set. The second song allowed Bill to play a more traditional bass role, which featured him on more of a mainstream rock song, which also gave Bill’s saxophonist/singer/acoustic guitarist a chance to shine. Bill is truly an amazing bassist and a genuinely great guy.
Next up was Will Howard, who is one of the Chicago elite bass players.
Will has been a mainstay in Chicago for a while now and has probably played in almost every music scene out here. Once again, Will was surrounded by some killer players (I was especially diggin’ his drummer). They opened up with a great version of the John Scofield tune “Blue Matter”. I was extremely impressed with Will’s set, which really showcased Will’s maturity and ability to groove like none other. Will is a solid all around bassist who play’s the bass player role as well as anybody else I have heard in Chicago.
The final act on the bill was the host’s band, Jauqo III-X and his trio.
A lot has been said about Jauqo and his band, but one thing is true; this guy can groove. The band plays what some people would call experimental music. However, the groove was always in full force with this group. His music is forward thinking and pushes new ground in improvised music. Jauqo and his drummer were always locked in and his guitarist was playing ripping melodic lines and lush chords over the top of the churning grooves. Jauqo tastefully displayed many of his signature concepts and techniques, while always staying true to the song. This was a great end to a wonderful night of music.
Special recognition goes out to The Elbo Room for hosting this event, and especially to the soundman, who did an amazing job of making all the bands sound great, even with an amazingly diverse lineup of musicians and instruments. One of the things that really separates this event from many others is Jauqo’s insistence on promoting bassists who are not major artists. This is one of the aspects of this event in particular that makes it even more important to the community. Hopefully this will not be the last of these events here in Chicago and with a little luck, more of these events will start to pop up all around the Midwest.