251

Lonnie Plaxico: Melange

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Lonnie Plaxico is one of those in-demand bassists, like Peter Washington or Dwayne Burno, who shows up on album after significant album, but, like most bassists, stays in the background. Attempting to gain radio play in the early 1990's, Plaxico led some of his own CD's, but fell into the smooth-jazz format in an effort to attain record-sales success. It didn't work. As Plaxico says, "I wasn't playing the music that reflects my experiences, and I still wasn't making money." Indeed. Plaxico ended up paying the difference in musicians' fees and other expenses to produce the early Muse recordings.

With such a diverse background under his belt, and at the successful buttonholing of Blue Note executives by Cassandra Wilson, Plaxico not only has released his first CD with the legendary label, but more importantly, he is playing his own music. Having worked with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Wynton Marsalis, Jack DeJohnette, Von Freeman and Dexter Gordon, one would expect Plaxico to come from a more traditional background—until one remembers his early work in funk, the true basis for M-Base, and his adoption of the electric bass as his first instrument.

Melange thus consists more of an funk beat than a hard bop one, George Colligan's organ deepening the groove unmistakably. Plaxico refers back to his early interest in the funk bands involving horns, such as Tower Of Power, Blood Sweat And Tears, Kool & The Gang and Earth Wind & Fire. Indeed, Melange includes one of the original Blood Sweat And Tears members, Lew Soloff, who definitely makes the rest of the opportunity to blow through five of the tracks and reclaim some of the attention that is his due, especially on the title track. According to Plaxico, Soloff was impressed by the difficulty of the charts that Plaxico wrote and showed them to other trumpeters in wonder and in determination to meet the challenge.

Plaxico's debt to those groups of the late 1960's and early 1970's is obvious in the fact that he makes one exception when he developed the repertoire for Melange: the inclusion of Tower Of Power's "Squib Cakes." Plaxico wrote all of the other tunes. "T.O.P.," with its lurching soufulness, is named, of course, after that sixties/seventies band-deserving-more-recognition, according to Plaxico.

Ever the generous leader, Plaxico creates a total-group sound and lets the horns, for the most part, lead the development of the tunes, while Plaxico's ever-present pulse, the basis for the tunes' energies, underlies it all. While all of Plaxico's earlier CD's were recorded in a single session, Melange involved two recording dates and two bands, the Pelt/Strickland group substituting for the Soloff/Ries configuration on the last six tracks.

A little funk, a little M-Base, a little gospel, a little Latin, a little balladeering, a little Miles, a little bop, Melange, in spite of its complexity, reveals just a hint of the talent and experiences that Lonnie Plaxico has gained through music in the twenty-five years of his professional life. At the age of forty, Lonnie Plaxico has paid his dues, and now it's time for him to mold what he has learned into an infectious and unique whole.

http://www.bluenote.com


Track Listing: Squib Cakes, Melange, Darkness, Short Takes, Miles II, Paella, Sunday Morning, Beloved, T.O.P., Patois, Windy City

Personnel: Lonnie Plaxico, bass; Lew Soloff, Jeremy Pelt, trumpet; Tim Ries, Marcus Strickland, saxophones; George Colligan, Helen Sung, piano, keyboards; Lionel Cordew, drums; Jeffrey Haynes, percussion

| Record Label: Blue Note Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Duet" CD/LP/Track Review Duet
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 30, 2016
Read "Touch My Beloved's Thought" CD/LP/Track Review Touch My Beloved's Thought
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 7, 2016
Read "Caipi" CD/LP/Track Review Caipi
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 9, 2017
Read "Pass It On" CD/LP/Track Review Pass It On
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: May 11, 2016
Read "Intenso!" CD/LP/Track Review Intenso!
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 1, 2016
Read "Metasediment Rock" CD/LP/Track Review Metasediment Rock
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 12, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

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!