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Earth Wind & Fire’s Now Then & Forever

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earth wind and fireIt has been a long time (eight years to be exact) since we had a new studio album (this is their twenty-first) from the legendary group, Earth Wind & Fire.

I had the immense  privilege to see them in concert, combined with Chicago some years ago, and I noted that the driving bass from EWF co-founder Verdine White was something you could feel in your chest, as well as hear with your ears, as he kept the groove going with the most energy I have ever seen anyone generate on stage! The man does not stop moving for a second!

09-2013-Bass Musician Magazine - Verdine White-smallAnyway, you can imagine how excited I was to hear about the new album and even more so as Verdine granted us a cover interview for our August 2013 issue. To quote Rick Suchow, “The man who puts the “Earth” into Earth Wind & Fire is and always has been Verdine White.” This interview is a ”Must read” if I do say so myself!

With super-groups like Earth Wind & Fire putting out a new CD, I believe that there is a huge amount of pressure, as their only real competition is their past albums. Just think, you have some tune of theirs that is your old favorite… now, introduce a package of new songs, and you can’t help but compare that set list from your ‘memory’ list; you might even be reluctant to enjoy the new sound. Fortunately for all of us, this new CD delivers the consistent EWF sound that we all enjoy so much, and then some!

Let’s have a closer look at “Now Then & Forever”…

The opening track “Sign On” comes out swinging with classic EWF attitude! Punchy, tight horns precisely blended with a no nonsense bass-line struts the bands stuff within the first few bars and clearly tells you, “We are back”. This is old school EWF that we all loved back in the 70’s, and there is no one that can match their sound. The familiar tone of the vocals and the structure of the musical arrangement is recognizable, but it is new enough that it has a fresh quality. As the song ends, all the tracks, but the voices, drop out and they seriously hold their own.

“My Promise” goes right into high gear from the start. The song starts with a percussive rhythm, guitar and keys. The horn section interjects condensed bursts of adornment and the tune blossoms as the vocals expand the dimension. As the chorus joins in, you recognize the classic EWF signature and serious demonstration of their vocal range. This track will get you up on your feet and  make you want to dance!

Just so you don’t get the impression that all the tracks are upbeat, there are some real nice smooth, romantic tracks like “Love is Law” and “Got to be Love”.  Break out the the Courvoisier and light the candles and you are good to go. These tracks are sure to set the mood!

I must mention “Belo Horizonte” (Beautiful Horizon) as it appeals to my love of Brazilian music. Here, we are treated to a sweet little samba EWF style. The smooth guitar work and  characteristic Brazilian percussive elements are a treat in this instrumental track. My only disappointment is that it was not more that an almost two minute tease; I suppose they must leave you wanting more, no?

“Dance Floor” opens with the Verdine laying down a bass-line with the percussion section, and the rest of the song grows around his solid foundation. The energy increases and the message is clear as the vocals state the bands purpose. There is an exotic quality to the arrangement and, as always, a mathematical precision as all the parts form a solid, cohesive body. This one will be a hit in the clubs!

There is no doubt in my mind that Earth Wind & Fire’s latest CD “Now ,Then and Forever” is simply another gem in the enormous legacy that is their music. This work is a wonderful gift to us all, as many times musical groups just can’t come back to their former glory. The musicianship is solid and the arrangements familiar enough to be recognized, yet still be fresh. The recording approach of the entire band in the studio produces a dynamic feel of excited joy as the musicians play off of each other. Solid Bass work sets the groove and keeps the motion going.

I enjoyed this CD and I am sure all you will too. I am also hoping to see them live as they tour the country, as the showmanship that goes with this musical phenomenon is unparalleled.

“Now ,Then and Forever” is available at Amazon.com

http://www.earthwindandfire.com/

Bass CDs

New Album: Ben Mortiz, MORENO

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New Album: Ben Mortiz, MORENO

The Chilean bassist, producer and sociologist, Ben Mortiz, celebrates the launch of his latest studio work, “MORENO” an album that mixes jazz, soul, and funk following the characteristic Latin style of  Mortiz. The artist completely produced the album under the label “Fallen Lab Records” in the south of Chile.

“MORENO” brings deep and smooth sounds, expressing a sophisticated and elegant Latin vibe. You will find meditative harmonies and joyful melodic voices. The record’s core is the human vibration that Mortiz feels from the Latin American music. The Caribbean rhythms and strong Latin percussions are the musical glue in every song that emerges with the force of the electric bass.

“MORENO” creates a real connection between corporal reactions and mind sensations, always in reference to the originality of Mortiz to fuse modern and classic Latin sounds.

For more information, visit online at danielbenmortiz.com/

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New Album: CATTANEO, Tim Lefebvre, Andrea Lombardini, Hypersphere

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New Album: CATTANEO, Tim Lefebvre, Andrea Lombardini, Hypersphere

CATTANEO, TIM LEFEBVRE AND ANDREA LOMBARDINI PRESENT ‘HYPERSPHERE’ EP
The members of Buñuel, David Bowie’s band and a prominent electronic artist are united and have releases their first collaborative release via Freecom Hub.

Hypersphere is an EP created by CATTANEOTim Lefebvre and Andrea Lombardini. Following their conceptual milestone, a dream team of bass players and multi-instrumentalists created fragments of music, coexisting and complementing each other individually and altogether. Having been playing with CATTANEO since 2016, Andrea Lombardini describes the process of their work as “strong musical connection”. Starting with the fully improvised set featuring drum-machine and pedal effects. “Some of Paolo’s keyboards are homemade and he has very unique sounds” – explains Andrea. Getting Tim Lefebvre to produce the EP, the duo simultaneously started another vehicle of their collaboration.

Moving their work organically, three extraordinary musicians managed to reach an almost-perfect balance between sounds of guitar and bass with electronic instruments. Morphing together, numerous guitar riffs, loops of synthesizers. Dominating electronic sounds get united with a rock take, depicting dark moods and ethereal landscapes. All these elements work in tandem to create something new each time.

Order Hypersprehere here.

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New Campaign: Alberto Rigoni, Nemesis Call – Queens Of Strings

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New Campaign: Alberto Rigoni, Nemesis Call - Queens Of Strings

Italian bass master and composer ALBERTO RIGONI is thrilled to announce his brand new project “Nemesis Call – Queens Of Strings”.

Nemesis Call – Queens Of Strings features a super talented drummer from Japan (TBA) and tons of female guitarists such as SAKI, Giusy Busetto, Alexandra Zerner (TBC) and many many others (TBA). Furthermore, Alberto has also launched a Fundraising Campaign for the project. 20% of the income will be donated to Lega del Filo d’Oro legadelfilodoro.it/it, an Italian association that helps deaf and blind children!

Alberto shares:
“Hello friends and music lovers! I’m Alberto Rigoni, an Italian composer and.. a BASS GUY! Between 2008 and 2024 I released 13 solo albums, spanning from progressive, rock, ambient to funky and experimental music, which also features contributions from musicians such as keyboard wizard Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) drummer Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree) and Marco Minnemann (the Aristocrats), keyboardist Kevin Moore (ex Dream Theater), singer John Jeff Soto (ex  Goran Edman (ex Y. Malmsteen), bassists Nathan East, Stu Hamm (Joe Satriani), Nik West (ex Prince) and many others. I’m also bass player for BAD As, Sunset Groove Society, Kim Bingham, The Italians bands and co-producer of Mistheria’s Vivaldi Metal Project.”

Alberto on the new project Nemesis Call:
“Even if my latest album “Unexpected Lullabies”, dedicated to my newborn Vittoria Parini Rigoni, will be released on June 4th, 2024, when Vittoria came to life I felt the need to compose new music (yes, I really can’t stop!!!!!). This time will be quite challenging because I’m willing to release an instrumental ambient/prog/rock/metal album, that will feature a talented and young drummer (TBA) and tons of female guitarists (that’s why I will call the album “Queens of the Strings”) such as Alexandra Zerner, YOKA and many others (TBA/TBC)). It won’t be easy to manage all such great musicians but I will make it!! Are you ready to face a new prog experience? The album will be released in Digipack CD and in high-quality digital format approximately at the beginning of 2025.”

The Fundraising Campaign:
As an independent artist, Alberto is looking for supporters who can help him reach the budget for the production (recordings, mix, mastering, artwork etc.) of this new album and has started this fundraising campaign that will end successfully on October 15th, 2024.

Get further information about Alberto Rigoni’s new project Nemesis Call Fundraising campaign at albertorigoni.net/nemesiscal

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New Album: Jake Leckie, Planter of Seeds

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Planter of Seeds is bassist/composer Jake Leckie’s third release as a bandleader and explores what beauty can come tomorrow from the seeds we plant today. 

Bassist Jake Leckie and The Guide Trio Unveil New Album Planter of Seeds,
to be released on June 7, 2024

Planter of Seeds is bassist/composer Jake Leckie’s third release as a bandleader and explores what beauty can come tomorrow from the seeds we plant today. 

What are we putting in the ground? What are we building? What is the village we want to bring our children up in? At the core of the ensemble is The Guide Trio, his working band with guitarist Nadav Peled and drummer Beth Goodfellow, who played on Leckie’s second album, The Guide, a rootsy funky acoustic analog folk-jazz recording released on Ropeadope records in 2022. For Planter of Seeds, the ensemble is augmented by Cathlene Pineda (piano), Randal Fisher (tenor saxophone), and Darius Christian (trombone), who infuse freedom and soul into the already tightly established ensemble.

Eight original compositions were pristinely recorded live off the floor of Studio 3 at East West Studios in Hollywood CA, and mastered by A.T. Michael MacDonald. The cover art is by internationally acclaimed visual artist Wayne White. Whereas his previous work has been compared to Charles Mingus, and Keith Jarrett’s American Quartet with Charlie Haden, Leckie’s new collection sits comfortably between the funky odd time signatures of the Dave Holland Quintet and the modern folk-jazz of the Brian Blade Fellowship Band with a respectful nod towards the late 1950s classic recordings of Ahmad Jamal and Miles Davis.

The title track, “Planter of Seeds,” is dedicated to a close family friend, who was originally from Trinidad, and whenever she visited family or friends at their homes, without anyone knowing, she would plant seeds she kept in her pocket in their gardens, so the next season beautiful flowers would pop up. It was a small altruistic anonymous act of kindness that brought just a little more beauty into the world. The rhythm is a tribute to Ahmad Jamal, who we also lost around the same time, and whose theme song Poinciana is about a tree from the Caribbean.

“Big Sur Jade” was written on a trip Leckie took with his wife to Big Sur, CA, and is a celebration of his family and community. This swinging 5/4 blues opens with an unaccompanied bass solo, and gives an opportunity for each of the musicians to share their improvisational voices. “Clear Skies” is a cathartic up-tempo release of collective creative energies in fiery improvisational freedom. “The Aquatic Uncle” features Randal Fisher’s saxophone and is named after an Italo Calvino short story which contemplates if one can embrace the new ways while being in tune with tradition. In ancient times, before a rudder, the Starboard side of the ship was where it was steered from with a steering oar. In this meditative quartet performance, the bass is like the steering oar of the ensemble: it can control the direction of the music, and when things begin to unravel or become unhinged, a simple pedal note keeps everything grounded.

The two trio tunes on the album are proof that the establishment of his consistent working band The Guide Trio has been a fruitful collaboration. “Santa Teresa”, a bouncy samba-blues in ? time, embodies the winding streets and stairways of the bohemian neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro it is named for. The swampy drum feel on “String Song” pays homage to Levon Helm of The Band, a group where you can’t always tell who wrote the song or who the bandleader is, proving that the sum is greater than the individual parts. Early jazz reflected egalitarianism in collective improvisation, and this group dynamic is an expression of that kind of inclusivity and democracy.

“The Daughters of the Moon” rounds out the album, putting book ends on the naturalist themes. This composition is named after magical surrealist Italo Calvino’s short story about consumerism, in which a mythical modern society that values only buying shiny new things throws away the moon like it is a piece of garbage and the daughters of the moon save it and resurrect it. It’s an eco-feminist take on how women are going to save the world. Pineda’s piano outro is a hauntingly beautiful lunar voyage, blinding us with love. Leckie dedicates this song to his daughter: “My hope is that my daughter becomes a daughter of the moon, helping to make the world a more beautiful and verdant place to live.”

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Debut Album: Nate Sabat, Bass Fiddler

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Debut Album: Nate Sabat, Bass Fiddler

In a thrilling solo debut, bassist Nate Sabat combines instrumental virtuosity with a songwriter’s heart on Bass Fiddler

The upright bass and the human voice. Two essential musical instruments, one with roots in 15th century Europe, the other as old as humanity itself. 

On Bass Fiddler (Adhyâropa Records ÂR00057), the debut album from Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter and bass virtuoso Nate Sabat, the scope is narrowed down a bit. Drawing from the rich and thriving tradition of American folk music, Sabat delivers expertly crafted original songs and choice covers with the upright bass as his lone tool for accompaniment. 

The concept was born a decade ago when Sabat began studying with the legendary old-time fiddler Bruce Molsky at Berklee College of Music. “One of Bruce’s specialties is singing and playing fiddle at the same time. The second I heard it I was hooked,” recalls Sabat. “I thought, how can I do this on the bass?” From there, he was off to the races, arranging original and traditional material with Molsky as his guide. “Fast forward to 2020, and I — like so many other musicians — was thinking of how to best spend my time. I sat down with the goal of writing some new songs and arranging some new covers, and an entire record came out.” When the time came to make the album, it was evident that Molsky would be the ideal producer. Sabat asked him if he’d be interested, and luckily he was. “What an inspiration to work with an artist like Nate,” says Molsky. “Right at the beginning, he came to this project with a strong, personal and unique vision. Plus he had the guts to try for a complete and compelling cycle of music with nothing but a bass and a voice. You’ll hear right away that it’s engaging, sometimes serious, sometimes fun, and beautifully thought out from top to bottom.” 

While this record is, at its core, a folk music album, Sabat uses the term broadly. Some tracks lean more rock (‘In the Shade’), some more pop (‘White Marble’, ‘Rabid Thoughts’), some more jazz (‘Fade Away’), but the setting ties them all together. “There’s something inherently folksy about a musician singing songs with their instrument, no matter the influences behind the compositions themselves,” Sabat notes. To be sure, there are plenty of folk songs (‘Louise’ ‘Sometimes’, ‘Eli’) and fiddling (‘Year of the Ox’) to be had here — the folk music fan won’t go hungry. There’s a healthy dose of bluegrass too (‘Orphan Annie’, ‘Lonesome Night’), clean and simple, the way Mr. Bill Monroe intended. 

All in all, this album shines a light on an instrument that often goes overlooked in the folk music world, enveloping the listener in its myriad sounds, textures, and colors. “There’s nothing I love more than playing the upright bass,” exclaims Sabat. “My hope is that listeners take the time to sit with this album front to back — I want them to take in the full scope of the work. I have a feeling they’ll hear something they haven’t heard before.”

Available online at natesabat.bandcamp.com/album/walking-away

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