My Top Ten Favorite Bass Players (w/ Live Videos)

Here’s a music post.

The idea of listing my favorite bass players came about as the result of an almost conversation. You ever start a conversation and don’t get to finish it, so what you wanted to say rolls around in your head for a while? This happened to me a couple of weeks ago. And yes it was a conversation about bass players. I mentioned Charlie Mingus to a young bass player and then it occurred to me later that Charles Mingus isn’t even in my top five. So what’s a blogger to do? I made a list.

esperanza-spalding

These are my favorite bass players throughout popular music. Jazz, Rock, Funk, Pop… the style doesn’t matter. This is purely a list of bad-ass bassists. However, this list doesn’t represent the best bass players of all-time. These are just my personal favorites. So don’t cry to me about technical proficiency or what not.

My apologies go out to Jaco, Claypool, Sting, McCartney, Sheehan, Clark, Jones, Flea, Esperanza and Ron Carter. You guys just didn’t make the cut.

So who did make the list?

Let’s get to it. To the list…

MY TOP TEN FAVORITE BASS PLAYERS

Ladies first. Only one female made the list. Here is a list of some of the best women bass players. It’s a good compiling. But on this list there was only room for one.

10. Tina Weymouth (the genius of love)

tina-weymouth

The only woman on the list, Tina Weymouth was a large part of what made Talking Heads such a fun group. She is the master of the fun bass-line. With Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club or Gorillaz. Tina is awesome. She makes me happy. Technical proficiency be damned. The girl makes me happy.

Then we get even more progressive…

9. Geddy Lee (the maestro of metal)

geddy-lee

Geddy Lee is the bassist and lead singer of the band Rush. I’m not the biggest Rush fan. My older brother was way too into Rush for me to take them seriously. He was a drummer, so like all drummers in the late 70’s, he worshiped at the altar of Neil Peart. But what Rush lacked creatively, Rush more than made up for with technical proficiency. So yeah Geddy Lee makes my list.

Rush starts this one off with a little Rolling Stones tease, but they mean well. I really wanted to post Subdivisions as an example of his work but he spends more time on keys than on bass in that song. (even though the bass part is fucking killer)

Next…

8. Tony Levin (doctor funky fingers)

tony-levin

Tony Levin plays in Peter Gabriel’s band. He is a master of the Chapman stick bass and the funk fingers (he plays with sticks on his fucking fingers). And he makes this list because of all the times I’ve seen Peter in concert, Tony Levin has been the highlight. The man kicks that bass’s ass. And yeah he’s played with EVERYBODY on TONS of albums. But it’s his work with Peter that lands him here.

Next a Rock classic

7. Jack Bruce (the cream of the crop)

jack-bruce

This was a surprise to me but when I thought about the best bass players I had to consider Jack Bruce who has quietly played bass on some of the coolest records of his time. So some of these guys are up here purely for laying down some of the most classic bass-lines of all time.

Here’s Cream.

Now we get to Mingus…

6. Charles MIngus (the angry man of jazz)

charles-mingus

The professor of the Big Band Swing. Grand-master of the double bass. Played with the great Charlie Parker. Disciple of the amazing Duke Ellington. And did a little record called Blue Moods with Miles Davis. You can’t count bassists without Mingus.

Here he is putting his own spin on an Ellington classic.

Let’s keep the jazz flowing…

5. Paul Chambers (the anchor of the gods)

paul-chambers

Speaking of Miles Davis. The master had a couple of classic crews (Quintets, Sextets) but my favorites will always be his first great quintet/sextet including Paul Chambers on bass. Red Garland on piano. Philly Joe Jones on drums. John Coltrane on tenor saxophone. Cannonball Adderly on alto. And Miles on Trumpet.

miles-davis-and-paul-chambers

This crew made several of my favorite recordings of all-time.

Miles Davis – Kind of Blue taking the top spot.

Here’s a televised performance of So What from that album.

And now I explain why disco does not suck…

4. Bernard Edwards (the rhythm of the boogie to be)

nile-rodgers-and-bernard-edwards

Speaking of some of the most iconic bass-lines of all time. Along with Nile Rodgers on guitar and Tony Thompson on drums, Bernard Edwards was a member of the 70’s disco band Chic. As well as dropping their own hits, they were the backing band on numerous late 70’s and early 80’s number one songs. And by the mid 80’s, Bernard Edwards bass-lines were sampled by some of the greatest rap groups and scratched by some of the earliest DJ pioneers. Okay… one in particular. But honestly it’s the most famous bass-line of all-time. Bernard Edwards died of pneumonia in 1996 much too young.

This is his final concert. They said he was too sick to play but he insisted. A professional to the end. It’s a little hard to watch. He doesn’t look well. Sounds great.

Back to the classic rock…

3. John Paul Jones (the hammer of the gods)

john-paul-jones

Led Zeppelin is one of my favorite music groups (right after that Miles sextet I mentioned) And it’s because they were all so amazingly talented and masters at their individual crafts. People talk about Jimmy Page and John Bonham as two of the best in the business but it was John Paul Jones who held those two volcanic entities together.

This is The Song Remains The Same. Try to ignore their bare chests (if you can). Try to ignore the large bulge in Robert Plant’s jeans (if you can). These are four artists at the height of their (sexual) power and they’re having fun.

This is a 10 minute jam song from 1969 starting with one of the most iconic bass lines in history. These are 10 minutes well-spent. This is Dazed and Confused…

And next up… “Clyde on the drums… Bootsy on the bass goodtar.”

2. Bootsy Collins (star child, the funk behind the godfather)

bootsy-collins

As a member of Parliament/Funkadelic, Bootsy helped redefine the funk genre into an inter-galactic jam session. The bass-line from Parliament’s Flashlight is the funkiest shit ever recorded. You know how people like to sing along with their favorite songs? When Flashlight is playing I sing along with the bass. I couldn’t find a good live version that featured Bootsy Collins. They had a bunch of different line-ups.

But honestly the stuff he did with James Brown in the late 60’s, early 70’s is why he makes this list. Funky and tight and did I mention funky as all hell..

bootsy-collins-and-james-brown

Here’s some of that. Not the best video but as James says, “Watch my shoes.”

And here’s a 30 minute version of Flashlight (the funkiest bass-line in music history) with Rodney Curtis on bass. (the man is no Bootsy but he’s also no slouch)

And at number one…

1. Israel “Cachao” Lopez (the father of the mambo)

israel-cachao-lopez

There’s not a lot I can say except the man is amazing. Creator of the mambo. The jam master. I don’t know if you noticed from this list but I love a good jam session. Cachao is the master of the Cuban jam session. Hell he created that shit.

cachao

Here he is with Tito Puente (a personality I find grating). Tito introduces the man (eventually) and then the two jam out for a bit before doing Oye Como Va (with the band) while Tito mugs for the audience. Honestly this clip would be brilliant if Tito would just play the drums and not be all… Tito.

And here is Cachao doing more of what he does best, improvising and jamming out. He’s a little older in this clip but as you can see the man can still jam.

And that’s my list…

I’d like to thank YouTube for making it nearly impossible to find good clips. And I’d also like to thank the devious musicians who hijack search terms just to get you to listen to their crap. Whatever works for you but… you’re not making any friends.

————————————

COMING SOON TO THE BLOG

More Music.

More Movie Reviews.

Winter TV Shows.

An updated Bisexual TV Characters for 2017.

The long-awaited return of Photos From Around The Block.

And much more.

Stay tuned.

– Mel

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