Leslie Johnson – Bass&Beyond (2012)

Share this:

Listening to a bass player’s album is like watching porn to me. At first it seems like a good idea, but a few minutes in I get bored and would rather nap. I also feel inadequate about my own performance and a little embarrassed.

However, Leslie Johnson’s Bass&Beyond left me wide awake and wanting more. Sure, Johnson is a stellar electric bassist who has played his instrument since he was a teenager, but he also composed, produced and arranged the disc. Bass&Beyond leans heavily on Johnson’s jazz and R&B background, yet recalls such bass giants as Marcus Miller and Chuck Rainey.

The opening “Invincible” combines elements of hip-hop and funk, building a tasty bass stew. Johnson then takes a slight left with a great fusion moment, “No Giants Allowed.” The track features blazing B-3 organ and guitar solos being supported by Johnson’s thumping bass, as well as guest star Nikki Glaspie of Beyonce and Kanye West fame. Johnson demonstrates a wide and tasteful sonic palette with the fantastic fusion jazz of “Nothing But Grace,” a fitting tribute to Marcus Miller (“Mr. M”), and the Weather Report-like “Three Days” — which features Alvaro Lopez of David Garfield and Abraham Laboriel fame.

Expertly recorded and sonically pleasing, this is not an album just for bass players. It’s an album for fans of funk, electric jazz and innovative compositions. I’ll admit there were several times thought when I thought to myself: “Damn, he’s a great player: why can’t I do that?” Luckily, Leslie Johnson’s website offers a few bass-playing tips.

Share this: