The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #99902   Message #1997692
Posted By: PoppaGator
15-Mar-07 - 01:39 PM
Thread Name: Opinions of Bass Players.
Subject: RE: Opinions of Bass Players.
I was going to be the first to name the great folk-music icon Fritz Richmond, but he finally got a mention, and quickly a second, about 3/4 of the way down the list. He could take either the jug or the washtub and play as musicianly as bass part as anyone else could produce using a "real" instrument.

Fritz, who only recently passed away, also gets points for having been the first public figure to sport "granny-glasses"-style shades, creating a very striking bit of bohemian sartorial style that was later popularized world-wide by John Lennon and others.

Of course, the washtub bass is a string instrument, roughly equivalent to a bass fiddle or bass guitar, while the jug is a wind instrument not terribly unlike the tuba/sousaphone. Fritz could lay down an irresitible groove with either one.

And speaking of the bass horn, I have to mention the many terrific sousaphone ("tuba") players working in the reborn New Orleans brass-band tradition. Phil Frazier (co-founder of the Dirty Dozen) was the first real innovator to emerge back in the 80s, and today there are too many outstanding "sousaphunk" players to count.

Also from New Orleans, James Singleton is a master of both the (jazz) acoustic bass fiddle and the (jazz/rock/funk/world) elecric bass guitar. Some of his most outstanding jazz work can be heard as a member of Astral Project, but he has always done a lot of outside "sideman" work with all kinds of musicians of every genre. Often, but not always, his Astral Project bandmate, drummer Johnny Vidocavich, goes along with him as a "package deal." Professor Longhair's posthumous "Crawfish Fiesta" album is a good example of this peerless rhythm section at their best.

The other great contemporary New Orleans master bass player, a little more on the rock/funk/soul side, is George Porter Jr., of the Meters ~ both the original quartet and the reborn "funky Meters" ~ and countless other projects including his own eponymous band.

Finally, mention of the Meters reminds me of their better-known contemporaries, another studio-based "house band" quartet with the same instrumentation (organ/guitar,bass/drums), Booker T and the MGs. Bass players don't come much better than Donald "Duck" Dunn.