9

Ralphe Armstrong: HomeBASS

Steve Bryant By

Sign in to view read count
Ralphe Armstrong: HomeBASS There must be something in the Detroit water, because the Motor City has probably produced more bass players per capita than any other American city. Not only in sheer numbers and variety, but also in terms of musical style and innovation. While Paul Chambers and Ron Carter would suffice for a locale in terms of civic pride, the city can also claim Motown session man James Jamerson as well as second generation players Robert Hurst III and Rodney Whitaker.

Then there is Ralphe Armstrong, who is probably the most prolific bass man of whom nobody has heard. For the last forty years, Armstrong has recorded and performed with a Who's Who of modern jazz and rock, including John McLaughlin at the age of 17, Jean-Luc Ponty, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, and even such pop performers as Robert Goulet and Lesley Gore. After such a long illustrious career, Armstrong finally decided to make his recording debut, with HomeBass, and the only question is: "What took him so long?" Armstrong is a veritable master of both the upright and electric basses, possessing an uncanny knowledge and proficiency.

Recorded live at the 1996 Detroit Jazz Festival, Armstrong performed what turned out to be a Miles Davis tribute. To assist him on this date, Armstrong put together a crack unit of top shelf Detroit players. Trumpeter Rayse Biggs is known for his work with Don Was, and Kid Rock, while the rhythm section includes guitarist Toty Viola, pianist Henry Gibson Jr, and Armstrong's longtime comrade in arms GayeLynn McKinney, who has distinguished herself as drummer for the seminal all female unit Straight Ahead.

Armstrong's intro is a rendition of "The National Anthem," which is done entirely with a bowed upright and nothing else. Then he swings into "So What," with an opening solo which calls to mind one of his musical role models, Paul Chambers, while playing it "The Detroit Way," which involves the bassist playing off the head of a tune. "Freedom Jazz Dance" is arguably a nod to Armstrong's main teacher and mentor Ron Carter, but features a style which takes the melody, stretches it and dances in and out of the time and rhythm. The follow-up is an elegiac rendition of "Dear Old Stockholm" played as a duet between Armstrong and his veteran pianist Gibson. After a swingin' version of "Stormy Monday," with vocalist Audrey Northington, Armstrong finishes up the set by taking his crew on yet a another Milesian journey. This time it is electric Miles on the spacey "Miles We Got To Go," where Armstrong and crew run da voodoo down while laying out on some hard rockin' funk. While Armstrong has solid creds amongst his musical peers and the jazz media, HomeBASS should put him on the map where he belongs.


Track Listing: Intro; National Anthem; So What; Band Intro; Freedom Jazz Dance; Dear Old Stockholm; Birdie; Stormy Monday; Miles We Got To Go.

Personnel: Ralphe Armstrong: bass; Gayelynn McKinney: drums; Henry Gibson: piano; Rayse Biggs: trumpet; Toty Viola: guitar; Audrey Northington: vocal.

Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Detroit Music Factory


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Lea Áigi" CD/LP/Track Review Lea Áigi
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 23, 2016
Read "Free for One" CD/LP/Track Review Free for One
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 31, 2016
Read "La Chanson Francaise" CD/LP/Track Review La Chanson Francaise
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 12, 2016
Read "Of The Night" CD/LP/Track Review Of The Night
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 28, 2016
Read "Cada Fuego Es El Primero" CD/LP/Track Review Cada Fuego Es El Primero
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 20, 2016
Read "Live in New York" CD/LP/Track Review Live in New York
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 8, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!