Apr 4, 2019
As a purely amateur electric bass player, one of my heroes is John Patitucci. The Brooklyn-born bass player has been at the top of the electric bass and acoustic double bass call list for some 35 years now, and in the process has become part of legendary groups.
He has released 14 albums under his own name as leader, and participated on dozens of others, including albums with Al Di Meola, Herbie Hancock, Danilo Perez, Edward Simon, Lee Ritenour, and Kurt Elling. However, Patitucci will likely best be known as the bass player for Chick Corea’s Elektric and Akoustic Bands, beginning in the mid-Eighties; and then as part of the Wayne Shorter Quartet for the past twenty years. The latter group, with Perez and Brian Blade supporting Shorter, has earned critical hosannas as one of the greatest improvisational bands of the 21st Century. While Wayne is no longer touring, Patitucci, Perez and Blade will continue as a trio under the name Children of the Light, the title of their 2015 release.
His last release, Brooklyn, gave John the chance to showcase his electric playing, predominately on the 6-string hollow-body bass from Yamaha that has become something of a trademark. This week he releases, Soul of the Bass, his first solo bass album. Featuring both electric and acoustic bass recordings, some multi-tracked, it may well be the most intimate thing Patitucci has done.
The song selection ranges from his own tunes, most coming from improvisations that he developed into fully conceived pieces for bass, to pieces by Bach (“Allemande from the Cell Suite No,5). It’s not truly “solo”, in that on one funky track, “The Call” he is joined by drummer Nate Smith; he has vocal assistance from his daughters on a track; and is supported by a cello/bass choir featuring his wife Sachi.
John will debut the new CD with a performance in an appropriately intimate venue, the Zurcher Gallery, 33 Bleecker Street, New York on Friday April 5th. The streaming versions of Soul of the Bass will be available that day; the CD comes out two weeks later.
Podcast 673 is my delightful conversation with John Patitucci, in which we discuss the genesis of the new album; the story of his new “old” double bass that he used for much of the recording; and tales of his times with Shorter and Corea, as well as remembrances of Michael Brecker and Roy Hargrove. Musical selections from Soul of the Bass include “The Call” and “Earth Tones”, plus selections from the Chick Corea Elektric Band (“Got a Match?”) and the Grammy-winning Directions in Music: Live at Massey Hall project that matched John with Herbie Hancock, Brecker, Hargrove, and Blade in a salute to the music of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. (“Naima”).