When I got Chuck Rainey’s latest “Interpretations of a Groove,” I was very interested to hear him on a CD of his own (this is his fifth).
I am certain that most bass players have heard of Chuck Rainey, but I am not sure that many are aware of how much he has recorded over the last 50+ years and the massive long list of people he has worked with. Jasper Cooper stated on the CD cover, “Probably no musician has been aired as many times as Chuck Rainey”. I believe it!
So, what does such a seasoned musician choose to play on his own CD? Whatever he likes! This CD is a blend of originals and covers and is loaded with R&B, Jazz Fusion, Funk and then some. There is a lot of variety and Chuck even expresses himself further by doing the lead vocals. As one would expect, Chuck recruited an excellent selection of supporting musicians that can hold their own with such an accomplished bassist. This is definitely his wheelhouse. The songs showcase his bass playing, yet keep it nicely balanced with the rest of the music.
I will take a moment here to mention that our friend and fellow bass slinger, Al Caldwell, worked on this project behind the console and at times in front of a microphone, doing background vocals.
Lets have a closer look at some of the tracks…
The title track “Interpretations Of A Groove” come out swinging with a drum fanfare that transitions into a nice funky strut! Chuck’s deep voice goes into a dissertation about the groove while he illustrates, with the line he is playing; great support from the organ, horns and percussion section, and I think I can almost pick out Al’s voice in the chorus.
“She’s a Brick House,” is a familiar track with a blend of Funk and a Latin piano twist. There is ample opportunity for Chuck’s bass to do some talking, along with his lead vocals. There are some really nice spots where the bass, violin, congas and a tambourine kind of do an isolated, all-the-other-tracks-turned-down, kind of arrangement.
“And the Cowboys Still Ride with Pride,” is an interesting chordal bass structure, with Chuck telling a story. This track has a galloping, breakneck tempo that makes you envision horses on the plains. You can get a lot of information about Texas and neighboring Louisiana from this track. This one is all bass and voice.
“Uncle Chucky’s Thumb Slapping Bass Boogie,” is a clear demonstration of some serious slapping! Clapping from a live crowd sets the percussive tempo while Chuck runs the fretboard with ease and style. The piano work compliments this piece just enough so you don’t lose track of the furious bass playing. This tune would have been worth experiencing live.
Chuck does a unique version of “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”. The tempo is very fast and when you listen to the Bass track, you would not even guess that this is the same tune. (Chuck introduces this cut as “Interpretations of a Groove” but my ears place it in this tune)
It is great to hear this stripped down portion of this song, as it highlights the violin and bass work. There are lots of parts where Chuck lets loose with some nice improvised lines.
When you add in the vocals and the rest of the tracks the whole thing really comes together.
There is a lot more to enjoy on the CD but I am going to leave this for you to discover on your own. You will enjoy all the great music that this icon of bass has to offer in this CD!
More about Chuck Rainey at his website chuckrainey.com