Listen To The Bass Player: Part 4, Paul Chambers

For the new segment of our adventure in letting bassists be our guides, author, critic and sometime Rifftides commentator Larry Kart has a fine idea.

May I suggest, for Part 4, Paul Chambers behind Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Wynton Kelly and Jimmy Cobb on “So What.” Like Heath and LaFaro in their various ways, where Chambers puts “one” is a place where no one who’s playing with him literally is, but it’s a place that all can touch and play off of. I think that’s a fairly basic (no play on words intended) general principle.

Good suggestion. The performance is from a 1959 episode of The Robert Herridge Theater on CBS-TV. Herridge introduces the program and the piece. Gil Evans leads the orchestra, whose function in this clip is to set the mood for “So What.”

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  1. Tim says

    Great selection, Doug. Man, television used to be worth watching. Hats off to you and your several contributors for this series focused on the bass. I grew up listening to the Heath Brothers, and Percy was just such a pleasure to listen to that he played a big part in my appreciation of the music overall. It was always the drummer that held the least interest for me, and I never really listened when he took his turn. Then I had the pleasure several years ago of hearing Greg Hutchinson in a great little trio (Ruben Rogers on bass and Peter Martin piano) backing Dianne Reeves. Couldn’t take my mind off Hutchinson. I had never heard anyone *play* a kit so melodically, so intuitively, so beautifully. He was there for her every note through every measure of every song. Everyone seemed to be keying off of him. He completely changed my appreciation of the drums and brought my appreciation of the music to a new level of engagement. At that time I also realized that focussing my attention on the trio had the paradoxical effect of enhancing Dianne Reeves’ own presence. I guess some performers already have so much charisma and stage presence that by listening to the musical details under them or behind them we become aware of the greater musical depth that there is in the performance. Anyway, thanks again, this has been a treat.