Tom Wheatley: Double Bass

John Eyles By

Sign in to view read count
Tom Wheatley: Double Bass
With improvising double bassists of the calibre of Olie Brice, John Edwards, Dominic Lash, David Leahy, Peter Marsh, Marcio Mattos, Jordan Muscatello and Guillaume Viltard being regulars on the London improv scene, it is not an easy place for young newcomers to make an impression and gain a reputation. But every once in a while, a new bassist comes along who impresses fellow bassists and other musicians equally. Tom Wheatley is the latest such player, having rapidly progressed from being a regular at Eddie Prevost's weekly improv workshop to be on a par with many in the list above. Along the way, Wheatley has started to put together an impressive discography that already includes two cassette/download albums, Yoke and Yoke II (Earshots, 2015 & 2016 respectively) of bass duos with Edwards. (See the YouTube clip for footage of the pair live together.)

Now comes Wheatley's self-produced album Double Bass, consisting exclusively of solo bass improvisations—surely the ultimate test of any improvising bassist's mettle ever since the first solo bass album, Barre Philips' Journal Violone (Opus One, 1969). Issued on vinyl LP, Wheatley's album consists of four tracks, titled after their locations on the record, a twenty-minute track occupying side A, and three shorter ones, totalling nineteen minutes, on the B side. The disc comes housed in a monochrome sleeve which, along with the record's labels, is illustrated with Wheatley's own appealing "schematic diagrams" showing parts of the bass.

Once the music begins, its most immediately striking features are the richness of the sounds that Wheatley extracts from his instrument and the sheer quality of the recordings of them, thanks to James Johnston who recorded and mixed the album. Throughout, one does not feel like an external spectator, more that one is situated inside the action, enveloped by the instrument and its rich sounds. Employing a combination of conventional and extended techniques, Wheatley forensically explores what his bass is capable of, extracting a broad range of sounds across the spectrum from the lowest, warm, resounding tones right up to far edgier, high frequency bowed sounds.

Wheatley strikes a near-ideal balance between repetition and variety. When he hits upon a particularly pleasing combination of sounds, he happily repeats them without overdoing it. His explorations do not include change for its own sake, so transitions are carefully handled and feel natural. The album clearly demonstrates that Wheatley deserves his burgeoning reputation and is on an upward trajectory.

Track Listing

A1; B1; B2; B3.


Tom Wheatley: double bass.

Album information

Title: Double Bass | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Self Produced

Post a comment about this album



Shop Amazon


Live At No Black Tie
Jeremy Monteiro, Jay Anderson, Lewis Nash
King of Dowling Street
Lightnin' Hopkins
Mariposas Cantan
Joe Rizo's Mongorama


All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.