When I was a kid, we didn’t have Guitar Hero or Rock Band. What we had was a record player, a broom, and some tennis rackets. With these props and some invisible drums and keyboards, we’d put our favorite records on the turntable and pretend to be the band. Sometimes we did this in our rooms, but other times, being brave and wanting an audience, we’d stand out on the front porch and play to the cars passing by. Sure, no one ever noticed, but we didn’t care. We were rock stars. One day we might be the Stones, the next, we’d be The Animals. But my older brother and his friends always made me be the bass player. I wanted to play lead guitar or even drums so I could at least wave my arms around like I was actually doing something. But no, I was always Bill Wyman or Chas Chandler, or Rick Huxley on the days we were the Dave Clark Five. I never got to be Keith or Mick or Dave or Eric. I was always shuffled off to the side, just standing there, the Rodney Dangerfield of the band. Well, this bottom heavy batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl brings the bass to the front. Gives it the respect it deserves. But there’s no Rick Huxley, maybe next time..
We will hear from the great jazz bassists Jim Hewart and Ray Brown playing with Tom Waits and Maria Muldour. Jaime Leopold plucks the fat strings for Dan Hicks with his Hot Licks on the track You Got To Believe, from their album Striking It Rich. But the set opens with John Francis Anthony Pastorius III, better known as Jaco. In 2006, nineteen years after his tragic death, the readers of Bass Player Magazine voted Jaco the best bass player who ever lived. We’ll hear him working with Joni Mitchell on her tribute album to the great jazz bassist, Charles Mingus but we’ll open with a pair from Jaco’s brilliant debut album, on Epic in 1976, from the Way Back Studios, here’s “Kuru” and “Speak Like A Child.”
|Jaco Pastorius||Kuru/Speak Like a Child|
|Joni Mitchell||Dry Cleaner from Des Moines|
|Tom Waits||Step Right Up|
|Dan Hicks||You Got To Believe|
|Maria Muldaur||Walkin’ One and Only|
Christ, buddy, you don’t know the meaning of heartbreak. There’s a big dose of west coast hipster swing for you, led down the path by some of the best bass players ever to pluck a string. We ended up with that waitress from the donut shop, Maria Muldaur, from her debut album in 1974, featuring the jazz great Ray Brown on bass and — much to my surprise — Ed Shaughnessy on drums. If you’re old enough, you might remember Ed playing with the Tonight Show band back when Johnny Carson was still behind the desk. We heard Maria covering the Dan Hicks tune, “Walkin’ One and Only.” Before that Dan Hicks covering himself, in all modesty on a track called, “You Got To Believe,” featuring Jamie Leopold on bass. By the way, if you liked what you heard, be sure to check Jamie’s Facebook page to hear what he’s been up to lately..
Smack dab in the middle of the set we heard Tom Waits, the king of twenty-first century beatniks, doing “Step Right Up” from his album Small Change, featuring Jim Hughart on bass, a guy with a resume about a mile long. He played with everyone from Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass to Johnny Rivers and The Monkees. We opened that set with the troubled but gifted Jaco Pastorius. We heard two from his debut album, the tracks: “Kuru” and “Speak like a Child,” followed by Jaco playing on one from Joni Mitchell’s tribute to another great jazz bassist, Charles Mingus – with whom Ed Shaughnessy also played at one point. Here we got “The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines.” Well, it’s like Tom Waits said, the large print giveth and the small print taketh away, and the small print says we’re out of time. But I’ll be back sooner or later with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl from the Way Back Studios. Thanks for listening, I’m Bill Fitzhugh, in the Deep Tracks.