Bring together three titans of the electric bass, and you're in for something downright special. So it is with Thunder by S.M.V. (Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten).
Collectively, the trio has been all over the map, collaborating with a wide array of artists, including Maynard Ferguson, George Duke, Spyro Gyra, David Sanborn, Bob James, Kenny Garrett and the Jaco Pastorius Big Band. The three bassists played together for the first time in October 2006 at the "Bass Player Live!" concert in New York City, an event which included the presentation of Bass Player magazine's "Bass Player Lifetime Achievement Award" to Clarke.
While the three mostly play electric bass, Clarke uses the acoustic on a few tracks, and Miller contributes other instruments, including bass clarinet, alto and tenor saxophones, synths and beat programming. The supporting cast includes appearances by Michael "Patches" Stewart on trumpet, George Duke on Mini-Moog, Chick Corea on piano, and 2007's America's Got Talent runner-up and vocal beatbox specialist Butterscotch.
The title song is a cool groove that, like several of the songs, features all three bassists. One carries the melody while the others carry the background; Butterscotch adds beatbox and voice trumpet sounds.
"Hillbillies on a Quiet Afternoon" has some familiar sounds, as part of the music is based on the melody from Clarke's "Quiet Afternoon." Duke contributes on Clavinet.
"Lopsy Lu - Silly Putty" is a lesson in funk. Again, Duke adds a Mini-Moog solo, but it's the basses that give this tune its strength. At times, the horns and Miller's synths borrow from the bass line of Average White Band's "Schoolboy Crush.";
Thunder is as much a clinic on the electric bass as it is a listening experience. Clarke, Miller and Wooten are masters of the instrument, and it shows. Add to that some excellent songwriting and an adept supporting cast, and you've got a superb all-around effort.
Track Listing: Maestros de las Frecuencias Bajas; Thunder; Hillbillies on a Quiet Afternoon; Mongoose Walk; Los Tres Hermanos; Lopsy Lu - Silly Putty (medley); Milano; Classical Thump; Tutu; Lil'; Victa; Pendulum; "Lemme Try Your Bass"; Grits.
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.