217

Lonnie Plaxico: West Side Stories

Mark F. Turner By

Sign in to view read count
Lonnie Plaxico: West Side Stories
West Side Stories, Lonnie Plaxico's eleventh recording as a leader, draws from memories of growing up in Chicago and listening to a variety of sounds from the '70s—R&B, popular music and smooth jazz—as well as his collaboration in the development of advanced M-Base musical concepts in the '80s.

To coin a phrase from none other than the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, Plaxico might just be one the hardest working bassists in the business. He is a player with clear abilities, intensity and keen ideas who has contributed to many recordings, including releases by Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Greg Osby and Cassandra Wilson.

The credits for the recording suggest an M-base class reunion. Prominent stars like vocalist Cassandra Wilson and saxophonists Gary Thomas and Steve Coleman bring their progressive skills to the project. Starting with the title track, "West Side Stories, you get a hint of Plaxico's flair for music off the beaten path, complete with turbulent ostinato patterns and killer horn arrangements. Even though the bass is somewhat lost the in mix, the band handles the complex arrangement precisely, thanks to tight writing and performance.

Bringing back the memories of yesteryear, covers include Burt Bacharach's "One Less Bell to Answer (featuring Steve Coleman's alto sax and Cassandra Wilson's smoky vocals) and a jazz radio-friendly version of the '70s rock group Foreigner's hit "I Want To Know What Love Is (featuring Carla Cook on vocals).

Though Plaxico brings the funk on a number of tunes impressively via some serious thumb-slapping on his electric axe, upbeat joints like "Speaking in Tongues Out become exhausting and repetitious. Yet the slower tunes, "I Want It to Be and the smooth "Your Love Speaks to Me, both sung by Wilson, linger all the more in this somewhat mixed bag of new and old grooves by a clearly talented bassist.

Track Listing

West Side Stories; Climb Every Mountian; I Want It To Be; Robin's Dance; One Less Bell To Answer; Funkadelic; I Want To Know What Love Is; Longer; Duke It Out; Speaking In Tongues; Your Love Speaks To Me.

Personnel

Lonnie Plaxico: all basses, keyboard (3); Cassandra Wilson:vocals (3,5,8,11); Carla Cook: vocals (7); Gary Thomas: tenor sax (1,2,4,6,7,9,10); Ravi Coltrane: alto sax (6); Steve Coleman: alto sax (5,8); Gary Pikard: tenor sax (8); David Lee Jones: alto sax (11); Alex Norris: trumpet (1,2,4,6,7,9,10); Jeff Hermason: trumpet (8); Kenny Growhowski: drums; Jeff Haynes:percussion (3,8,11); Khalil Kwame Bell:percussion (6,7,11); George Colligan:B3 organ, piano, Fender Rhodes.

Album information

Title: West Side Stories | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: PlaxMusic

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read Prickly Pear Cactus
Prickly Pear Cactus
Ikue Mori / Satoko Fujii / Natsuki Tamura
Read Time OutTakes
Time OutTakes
Dave Brubeck Quartet
Read In Baltimore
In Baltimore
The George Coleman Quintet

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place 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 effort that will help musicians 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 bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

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