Our sixty-sixth feature for Blue Note 75 for 75 is Paul Chambers’ wonderful statement of intent: Bass On Top. With this record, Chambers set about consolidating his reputation as once of jazz’s preeminent bassists, demonstrating that what was generally considered a support instrument could easily and comfortably take the lead.
At the time of Bass On Top, Chambers was already deep into his association with Miles Davis and was an in-demand performer, recording tons of sessions on the side of his Davis work. Chambers, skilled at both arco and pizzicato, saw the bass as more than a rhythm instrument. Bass On Top finds Chambers leading a quartet wherein the bass performs all melodies and eats the bulk of the solo time. While that may sound self-indulgent, the result is actually quite lovely. Skillfully supported by the elegant pianist Hank Jones, the thoughtful guitarist Kenny Burrell, and the tasteful drums of Art Taylor, the group swings with a stately grace. Evidence abounds on “Dear Old Stockholm”:
The lack of horns on this album coupled with the clean elegance of the given instrumentation gives Bass On Top a quiet sort of sophistication (bordering on chamber or third stream style jazz) different from other Blue Notes. Chambers gets his bass to practically sing on vocal standards like “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To”:
Hank Jones and Kenny Burrell are utterly tasteful in support and take fine solos of their own. Alternating comping between themselves and Chambers lends a rhythmic flexability to Art Taylor’s swing — this is one tight session and a deep head-nodder from start-to-finish.
Stay tuned for more Blue Note 75 for 75… (only nine more to go!)