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Monday, October 22, 2007

Solo bass albums

There is an old jazz joke about a group of explorers being led through the jungle by a local guide. As the men march and tear through the overgrowth, the guide warns - “Always listen for the drums. When the drums stop - bad things follow.” On day two, the group continues to hear the incessant drumming, and they are eased by the distant din. The guide implores “Always listen for the drums. When the drums stop - bad things follow.” On day three - the drumming was steady, and the group continued their journey with an easy mind. On the fourth day, however, the drums suddenly halt. The birds stop their singing. All is still in the jungle. The guide is panicked and his face is fraught with fear. The explorers are now also concerned - “What happens now that the drums have stopped? Tell us, what should we fear?” The local guide informed - “When the drums stop, there is a bass solo.” (as told by Eric Quick on

There are of course worse things that could happen than a bass solo. As much as I abhor solo percussion albums, I like solo bass albums, because the instrument combines warmth, scope, melody, rhyhtm, and because of the various ways of playing it, it lends itself to more variation than many other instruments. Solo bass jazz albums are rare, but when listed, there's more to find than one would think. I listened to Jonas Tauber's excellent Storm Walking Singing over the weekend, wondering who else made jazz solo bass albums, and I came up with the following list, aided by a discussion on a jazz forum somewhere on internet. For sure, I haven't heard them all, but at least that's something to look forward to.

Barre Phillips Journal Violone (1968) would be the first solo bass recording in jazz history (thanks Pedro, for the info).

Barre Philips - Journal Violone (AKA Bass Barre or Barre Unaccompanied)
Joe Fonda - When It's Time
Marcin Oles - Ornette On Bass
Jonas Tauber - Storm Walking Singing
Dave Holland - Ones All/Emerald Tears
Michael Formanek - Am I Bothering You?
Barry Guy - Symmetries/Fizzles
Joëlle Léandre - No Comment/Sincerely
Miroslav Vitous - Emergence
Peter Kowald - Was Da Ist?
Paul Rogers - Listen
Ron Carter - All Alone
John Lindberg - Luminosity : Homage To David Izenzon
Kent Kessler - Bull Fiddle (although Zerang joins on three tracks).
Mark Dresser - Invocation/Unveil
Ken Filiano - Subvenire
Malachi Favors - The Natural and the Spiritual
Lynn Seaton - Solo Flights
Mike Milligan - Solo Flights
Eberhard Weber - Pendulum
Malachi Favors - The Natural and the Spiritual
Fernando Grillo - Fluvine
Alan Silva - Inner Song
Roberto Miguel Miranda - The Creator's Musician
Ed Schuller - Ong Song Music For Solo Bass
William Parker - Lifting The Sanctions/Testimony/Painter's Autumn
Henri Texier - Amir/Varech
Aladar Pege - Virtuoso Solo Bass
Anthony Cox - That & This

Ingebrigt Håker-Flaten - Double Bass
Dominic Duval - Songs For Krakow/Nightbird Inventions/Anniversary
Wilbert de Joode - Olo

Question : Nothing by David Friesen or Gary Peacock?

Watch Dave Holland solo with Mr. PC


Anonymous said...

Hi Stef, first solo bass was Journal Violone by Barre Phillips. I think you forgot the great Unveil CD by Mark Dresser. There's also a great William Parker solo bass record on No More records. One of my favourite's is Dave Holland's "Life Cycle" a true masterpiace. Cheers,Pedro.

Michael McCaw said...

That Tauber album is very very good. Some others: Anthony Cox's Double Base, Kent Kessler's Bull Fiddle, Ed Schuller's Ong Song... and many, many, many more. Nice post.

Stef said...

Pedro and Michael, thanks for the suggestions.

Thanks for reminding me of Dresser's Unveil and Anthony Cox's album (I only found "That & This"). As for the other suggestions : isn't William Parker's solo album on No More not "Lifting The Sanctions" (already on the list), and Holland's Life Cycle is solo cello, I think.

Good to know that Barre Phillips was the first to release a solo bass album.

tony said...

another great one :ingebrigt haker flaten double bass .you are very inspired stef congrats

Anonymous said...

Hi Stef,
You're right "Life Cucle" is solo cello and about William Parker's solo record, I didn't noticed.
Ingebrigt solo record is amazing, you're right Tony. Ingebrigt is a genius bass player, one of the best. You're the man, Stef.

Anonymous said...

Dominic Duval has two other solo recordings in addition to Songs for Krakow. They are: "Nightbird Inventions" (1997, Cadence Jazz) and "Anniversary" (2000, CIMP).

Anonymous said...

A worthy record not on your list is Wilbert de Joode's "Olo"

Anonymous said...

Vitold Rek "bassfiddle alla polacca", Stefano Scodanibbio "Geografia Amorosa" and Anders Jormin "Alone" are deffinitely worth mentioning.

joesh said...

Ah, if you can still find it there's also Harry Miller's - Children at Play, which you can add to the list.

The Caretaker said...

Thank you so much for this post!! I had always hoped I could find albums like this after hearing Circle's "Newborn." Does anyone know of any avant garde, post-bop, or free jazz albums featuring (double) bass and drums only? That's the next thing I hope to find.

Anonymous said...

Another serious omission is the great Henry Grimes's double CD set simply called "Henry Grimes Solo" on the Danish ILK Music label (#151), released in 'O9 ( #151 CD), widely available from, (, (
), etc. There are some brief reviews shown on Henry's Web site,, on the "purchase CDs and books" link. Thanks, and happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Thank You for the very kind words ... and whew, didn't really know all the excellent players whom I share this strange place with. Coming out with a second one this year, if at all possible, by the way!

- Jonas Tauber

Petr Tichy said...

And Renaut Garcia Fons – Legendes 1997…Cheers Petr

valis said...

And Giovanni Maier - Polaroid (1998)

Ernst Grgo Nebhuth said...

Maybe its too late but there's another solo LP/CD for contrabass: Klaus Koch ‎– Basse Partout on Creative Works CW 1011 (Recorded on January, 27-29, 1987 at FTF-Studios, Frankfurt am Main)

Anonymous said...

Jonas Helborg - The Bassic Thing

Unknown said...

William Parker- Crumbling in the Shadows is Frauline Miller's Stale Cake

deb2006 said...

Squarepusher, Solo Electric Bass 1

Cortazarx said...


Bert Turetzky
Kent Carter
Fernando Grillo
Hilliard Greene

One of my favorites may he rest in peace, Dominic Duval:

Nightbird Inventions
Wedding Song
Songs for Krakow

Malachi Favors/Tatsu Aoki 2×4
Beb Guerin/Francois Mechali-conversations
Barre phillips/Barry Guy-Arcus
Dave Holland/Barre Phillips
Mark Helias/Mark Dresser mark brothers
Two titles on Leo Records ofJoelle Leandre and William Parker
Damon Smith/Peter Kowald -Mirrors-Broken but no dust

and so many more!!!!

deb2006 said...

Evan Brewer, Alone (not strictly free, but nevertheless great suff - worth listening to)

Georg Heuvelmann said...

Here are some more:

Brian Bromberg: "Hands", 2008
Sebastian Gramss: "atopie", 2012
(in 2013 he made a record with 50 doublebasses called "BASSMASSE")
Renaud Garcia-Fons: "Solo" (CD + DVD from a soloconcert) 2011
Jonas Hellborg: "Elegant Punk", 1984
Hartmut Kracht: "Kontrabass pur", 1999
Peter Kowald: "Open Secrets, 1988 ( his first), "Silence and Flies" (live 2001)
Michael Manring: "Soliquy", 2005
Charnett Moffett: "The Bridge", 2013
Glen Moore "Dragonetti's Dream", 1995 (some pieces played on a piano)
Gary Peacock: "December Poems", 1978 (two pieces are duos with Jan Garbarek)
Victor Wooten: "A Show of Hands", 1996

Georg Heuvelmann said...

Excuse me, I forgot one:

Dieter Ilg: "Bass", 2008

Björn Klaus (BMK) said...

I am very thankful to the author for this comprehensive list as I am in the research phase.
I know for absolute certainty that I do not qualify as a jazz professional, but I have specialized in producing my own solo albums.
On my debut "BMK - The complete first season" I interpret jazz standards, half of them is with my vocals and I also play all other instruments and half is unaccompanied bass solo in the hallway of a conservatory. It's on youtube. At the moment, after releasing an EP ("The American Sound") I am working on Season Two. It will be with double bass arco and pizz, electric bass, several percussion instruments, my vocals and the usual wonderful violin of the sound engeneer of my choice.
Who knows, somebody might enjoy it.
Thank you