Larry Grenadier is a living legend at the upright bass.
Know what most people do when a bass player whips out that pathetic and effete idea of a solo? They tune out, fall asleep, or take the opportunity to bring a hammer down onto some stranger’s skull out of sheer boredom. So an entire album made up of bass, only bass, and nothing but the bass, could potentially bring hundreds of sobbing masses to their knees and actively volunteering themselves for extra-boiled waterboarding. A solo piano album? Great. A guitar solo? Fine. A drum solo record? Okay. But a bass solo album is tough to pull off. It’s not only technically difficult to hold the attention of the listener, it’s difficult to record. Luckily for you:
Nobody records the bass like motherfucking Manfred Eicher.
The dude has recorded many of the who’s who of bass players: Barre Phillips, Charlie Haden, Dave Holland, Gary Peacock, Jaco Pastorius, Miroslav Vitouš, Anders Jormin, Arild Andersson, and Eberhard Weber. If you don’t recognize any of these names, allow me to explain. Deep within the universe of Bass lies a planet also named Bass. On this planet, the tallest mountain is Mt. Bass. Perched at the very top of this mountain is the coveted temple of Bass. The gods of bass reside here. These are their motherfucking names. Larry Grenadier sits among them.
To say Larry is a recognized name in the jazz world is like saying that water is wet, fire is hot, and Steven Seagal can’t act: it’s irre-fucking-futable. He’s played with unbelievably talented musicians like Joshua Redman, Jamie Saft, Charles Lloyd, Paul Motian, Herbie Mann, Pat Metheny and Brad Mehldau for about, oh let’s says, 20 fucking years. Technically? The guy’s a machine. He’s a wizard. He continually improves and establishes himself as one of the best. And though great technique will make a good player, it will not make a good musician.
This is an album that exemplifies Larry’s musicianship. You could go to any music school and shake out a shit ton of good bass players. But you’d be lucky to find a true musician. The first track on this album is Larry bowing at that bass. Many bassists leave this technique alone because it’s really fucking hard. Larry pulls this off and make it look seamless. Covers on this album include: “Gone Like The Season Does” by Rebecca Martin, “Compassion” from Coltrane, Motian’s “The Owl of Cranston”, and Gershwin’s “My Man’s Gone Now”. The mood of this album is subtle. It’s something to put on when you’re in the mood for silence. It overtakes slowly and impacts greatly. By the end, there’s this sense of complex peace reminiscent of those introspective nights spent solo. It’s beautiful, labyrinthine, and complete. In the end, it’s a truly entertaining bass solo album. And that’s saying something.