Bass in the USA

One of the outstanding young talents in the bass world is hitting the road this month. Budding upright prodigy Ben Williams and his band Sound Effect will be travelling through the US in February. Fresh from a long stint of touring with guitar legend Pat Metheny, Williams is heading back out with his own outfit to astound crowds with live performances from his 2011 album, State Of Art. Williams began playing at an early age and gained entry to the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, where he excelled. He later went on to Juilliard, where he earned a slew of awards for his composing and performance. After winning the Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition in 2009, Williams became a hot ticket in the bass world. He quickly found himself playing with the likes of Meshell Ndegeocello, Wynton Marsalis, Herbie Hancock, Christian McBride, Benny Golson, George Duke, Eric Reed, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Roy Hargrove. State Of Art is the young bassist’s debut as a bandleader and composer. It features balanced playing that shows as much restraint and discipline as it does insane chops and fi nesse in soloing.

nikki sixxOnto the world of rock, and there has been a lot of news buzzing around the Queens Of The Stone Age camp lately, as the band are busy working on their sixth studio album in California. First came reports that longtime drummer Joey Castillo had left the lineup permanently, with Dave Grohl coming in as his replacement to write and record new material. Then it was announced that the man behind Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor, would be contributing to the album, and the final, most unexpected update came when singer and guitarist Josh Homme confirmed that original QOTSA bassist Nick Oliveri would return to record vocals and possibly bass on the new material. Homme recruited current bassist, Michael Shuman, in 2007 to record the band’s last album, Era Vulgaris, and was so impressed with his playing that he kept him on board. While Shuman remains the sole bassist for QOTSA, Oliveri’s return does spark some excitement and sentimental feelings among fans. His contribution to the band played a signifi cant role in sculpting their sound. QOTSA have announced that they are close to wrapping up production, but no further details have been given relating to the album’s release, except a hint that it will be some time in early 2013.

On to another band from the desert, American indie rockers Calexico continue their tour this month in support of recent album Algiers. Upright and electric bassist Volker Zander leads the desert rockers with poignant and often ambient playing that perfectly accompanies the haunting vocals of singer-songwriter Joey Burns. The Tucson, Arizona band first found success in the late 90s, when their popularity led them to collaborate and tour with popular acts such as Arcade Fire, Iron and Wine, Neko Case and Nancy Sinatra. Although Zander only joined the band in recent years, his playing has had a big impact on their sound. His soft-fingered upright technique and his muted plucking on his Fender Jazz basses fill out the bottom for the band, whose material has many components, including horns, keys, percussion, strings and a bunch of guitarists.

Finally, Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx has announced that he will be adapting his recently released memoir, The Heroin Diaries, into a Broadway musical. The best-selling book chronicles Sixx’s diary entries from 1986-1987 when Crüe were in the studio recording their pivotal album Girls, Girls, Girls. The book was published in 2007 along with a soundtrack by his band Sixx:A.M., on which each of the 13 songs related to a chapter from his journal. The music from this album is rumoured to make up a large part of the Broadway show, which is expected to debut in late 2013 or early 2014. Mötley Crüe have kept busy lately with a three-week residency in Las Vegas followed by a co-headlining tour with KISS last summer. The band have also announced that they are soon to release an EP of new material.

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