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Jaco Pastorius (1951-1987) was an influential American jazz bassist, composer and big band leader. He is best known for his work with Weather Report from 1976 to 1981, as well as work with artists including Joni Mitchell, Pat Metheny, and his own solo projects. Jaco pastorius 87.jpg
Jaco Pastorius (1951–1987) was an influential American jazz bassist, composer and big band leader. He is best known for his work with Weather Report from 1976 to 1981, as well as work with artists including Joni Mitchell, Pat Metheny, and his own solo projects.

A bassist, or bass player, is a musician who plays a bass instrument such as a double bass (upright bass, contrabass, wood bass), bass guitar (electric bass, acoustic bass), synthbass, keyboard bass or a low brass instrument such as a tuba or sousaphone. Different musical genres tend to be associated with one or more of these instruments. Since the 1960s, the electric bass has been the standard bass instrument for funk, [2] R&B, soul music, rock and roll, reggae, jazz fusion, heavy metal, country and pop music. The double bass is the standard bass instrument for classical music, bluegrass, rockabilly, and most genres of jazz. Low brass instruments such as the tuba or sousaphone are the standard bass instrument in Dixieland and New Orleans-style jazz bands.


Despite the associations of different bass instruments with certain genres, there are exceptions. Some new rock bands and bassist used a double bass, such as Lee Rocker [3] of Stray Cats, Barenaked Ladies and Tiger Army. Larry Graham, Bernard Edwards, Mick Hogan, Andy Fraser, and Mel Schacher [4] used electric bass guitar. Some funk, R&B and jazz, fusion groups use synth bass or keyboard bass rather than electric bass. Bootsy Collins, Stevie Wonder, Kashif and Kevin McCord(One Way) used synth bass. Some Dixieland bands use double bass or electric bass instead of a tuba. In some jazz groups and jam bands, the basslines are played by a Hammond organ player, who uses the bass pedal keyboard or the lower manual for the low notes. Keyboard driven bass also occurs occasionally in rock bands, such as The Doors and Atomic Rooster.

Electric bass players

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Bootsy Collins in Germany, 1998
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Geddy Lee
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John Deacon in 1979
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Lemmy in 2011
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Pino Presti in 1978

Electric bassists play the bass guitar. In most rock, pop, metal and country genres, the bass line outlines the harmony of the music being performed, while simultaneously indicating the rhythmic pulse. In addition, there are many different standard bass line types for different genres and types of song (e.g. blues ballad, fast swing, etc.). Bass lines often emphasize the root note, with a secondary role for the third, and fifth of each chord being used in a given song. In addition, pedal tones (repeated or sustained single notes), ostinatos, and bass riffs are also used as bass lines. While most electric bass players rarely play chords (three or more notes all sounded at the same time), chords are used in some styles, especially funk, R&B, soul music, jazz, Latin and heavy metal music.

A short list of notable bassists includes:

Double bass players

Classical double bass players

For a long list, see the List of contemporary classical double bass players.

A shortlist of notable double bass players includes:

Jazz double-bass players

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Eddie Gómez

For a long list, see the List of jazz bassists, which includes both double bass and electric bass players.

A shortlist of notable jazz bassists includes:

For a longer list, see the List of double bassists in popular music, which includes blues, folk, country, etc.

A shortlist of the notable bassists in these genres includes:

See also

Related Research Articles

Double bass Acoustic stringed instrument of the violin family

The double bass, also known simply as the bass, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra. The Double bass has a similar structure to the cello.

Funk is a music genre that originated in African American communities in the mid-1960s when musicians created a rhythmic, danceable new form of music through a mixture of soul, jazz, and rhythm and blues (R&B). It de-emphasizes melody and chord progressions and focuses on a strong rhythmic groove of a bassline played by an electric bassist and a drum part played by a percussionist, often at slower tempos than other popular music. Like much of African-inspired music, funk typically consists of a complex groove with rhythm instruments playing interlocking grooves that create a "hypnotic" and "danceable" feel. Funk uses the same richly colored extended chords found in bebop jazz, such as minor chords with added sevenths and elevenths, or dominant seventh chords with altered ninths and thirteenths.

Musical ensemble Group of people who perform instrumental and/or vocal music, with the ensemble typically known by a distinct name

A musical ensemble, also known as a music group or musical group, is a group of people who perform instrumental or vocal music, with the ensemble typically known by a distinct name. Some music ensembles consist solely of instruments, such as the jazz quartet or the orchestra. Other music ensembles consist solely of singers, such as choirs and doo wop groups. In both popular music and classical music, there are ensembles in which both instrumentalists and singers perform, such as the rock band or the Baroque chamber group for basso continuo and one or more singers. In classical music, trios or quartets either blend the sounds of musical instrument families or group together instruments from the same instrument family, such as string ensembles or wind ensembles. Some ensembles blend the sounds of a variety of instrument families, such as the orchestra, which uses a string section, brass instruments, woodwinds and percussion instruments, or the concert band, which uses brass, woodwinds and percussion.

Sousaphone Brass musical instrument

The sousaphone is a brass instrument in the same family as the more widely known tuba. Created around 1893 by J.W. Pepper at the direction of American bandleader John Philip Sousa, it was designed to be easier to play than the concert tuba while standing or marching, as well as to carry the sound of the instrument above the heads of the band. Like the tuba, sound is produced by moving air past the lips, causing them to vibrate or "buzz" into a large cupped mouthpiece. Unlike the tuba, the instrument is bent in a circle to fit around the body of the musician; it ends in a large, flaring bell that is pointed forward, projecting the sound ahead of the player. Because of the ease of carrying and the direction of sound, it is widely employed in marching bands, as well as various other musical genres. Sousaphones were originally made out of brass but in the mid-20th century started to be made from lighter materials like fiberglass; today both types are in wide use.

Slapping (music) Musical technique

Slapping and popping are ways to produce percussive sounds on a stringed instrument. It is primarily used on the double bass or bass guitar. Slapping on bass guitar involves using the edge of one's knuckle, where it is particularly bony, to quickly strike the string against the fretboard. On bass guitars, this is commonly done with the thumb, while on double bass, the edge of the hand or index finger may be used. Popping refers to pulling the string away from the fretboard and quickly releasing it so it snaps back against the fretboard. On bass guitar, the two techniques are commonly used together in alternation, though either may be used separately.

Jazz fusion is a music genre that developed in the late 1960s when musicians combined jazz harmony and improvisation with rock music, funk, and rhythm and blues. Electric guitars, amplifiers, and keyboards that were popular in rock and roll started to be used by jazz musicians, particularly those who had grown up listening to rock and roll.

A bass musical instrument produces tones in the low-pitched range C4- C2. Basses belong to different families of instruments and can cover a wide range of musical roles. Since producing low pitches usually requires a long air column or string, the string and wind bass instruments are usually the largest instruments in their families or instrument classes.

Bassline Low-pitched instrumental part

A bassline is the term used in many styles of music, such as jazz, blues, funk, dub and electronic, traditional music, or classical music for the low-pitched instrumental part or line played by a rhythm section instrument such as the electric bass, double bass, cello, tuba or keyboard.

Guitar solo

A guitar solo is a melodic passage, instrumental section, or entire piece of music written for a classical guitar, electric guitar or an acoustic guitar. In 20th and 21st century traditional music and popular music such as blues, swing, jazz, jazz fusion, rock and metal, guitar solos often contain virtuoso techniques and varying degrees of improvisation. Guitar solos on classical guitar, which are typically written in musical notation, are also used in classical music forms such as chamber music and concertos.

Rhythm section

A rhythm section is a group of musicians within a music ensemble or band that provides the underlying rhythm, harmony and pulse of the accompaniment, providing a rhythmic and harmonic reference and "beat" for the rest of the band. The rhythm section is often contrasted with the roles of other musicians in the band, such as the lead guitarist or lead vocals whose primary job is to carry the melody.

Jazz bass

Jazz bass is the use of the double bass or bass guitar to improvise accompaniment ("comping") basslines and solos in a jazz or jazz fusion style. Players began using the double bass in jazz in the 1890s to supply the low-pitched walking basslines that outlined the chord progressions of the songs. From the 1920s and 1930s Swing and big band era, through 1940s Bebop and 1950s Hard Bop, to the 1960s-era "free jazz" movement, the resonant, woody sound of the double bass anchored everything from small jazz combos to large jazz big bands.

Multi-instrumentalist Musician who plays multiple musical instruments

A multi-instrumentalist is a musician who plays two or more musical instruments at a professional level of proficiency.

Keyboard bass

Keyboard bass is the use of a smaller, low-pitched keyboard with fewer notes than a regular keyboard or pedal keyboard to substitute for the deep notes of a bass guitar or double bass in music.

<i>On the Corner</i> 1972 studio album by Miles Davis

On the Corner is a studio album by American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer Miles Davis. It was recorded in June and July 1972 and released on October 11 of the same year by Columbia Records. The album continued Davis's exploration of jazz fusion, and explicitly drew on the influence of funk musicians Sly Stone and James Brown, the experimental music of Karlheinz Stockhausen, ideas by composer Paul Buckmaster, and the free jazz of Ornette Coleman.

Jazz-funk is a subgenre of jazz music characterized by a strong back beat (groove), electrified sounds and an early prevalence of analog synthesizers. The integration of funk, soul, and R&B music and styles into jazz resulted in the creation of a genre whose spectrum is quite wide and ranges from strong jazz improvisation to soul, funk or disco with jazz arrangements, jazz riffs, and jazz solos, and sometimes soul vocals.

Banda music Music genre, style of Mexican music heavy on brass and percussion

Banda is a term to designate a genre of Regional Mexican music and the musical ensemble in which wind instruments, mostly of brass and percussion, are performed.

Dixieland, sometimes referred to as traditional jazz, is a style of jazz based on the music that developed in New Orleans at the start of the 20th century. The 1917 recordings by the Original Dixieland Jass Band, fostered popular awareness of this new style of music.

Pablo Elorza Musical artist

Pablo Elorza is a bass player, composer, arranger, author, producer and educator.

Heavy metal bass

Heavy metal bass is the use of the bass guitar in the rock music genres of heavy metal and hard rock. The bassist is part of the rhythm section in a heavy metal band, along with the drummer, rhythm guitarist and, in some bands, a keyboard player. The prominent role of the bass is key to the metal sound, and the interplay of bass and distorted electric guitar is a central element of metal. The bass guitar provides the low-end sound crucial to making the music "heavy". The bass plays a "... more important role in heavy metal than in any other genre of rock."

Band (rock and pop) Musical ensemble which performs rock music, pop music, or a related genre

A rock band or pop band is a small musical ensemble that performs rock music, pop music, or a related genre. A four-piece band is the most common configuration in rock and pop music. In the early years, the configuration was typically two guitarists, a bassist, and a drummer. Another common formation is a vocalist who does not play an instrument, electric guitarist, bass guitarist, and a drummer. Instrumentally, these bands can be considered as trios. Sometimes, in addition to electric guitars, electric bass, and drums, also a keyboardist plays.


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  2. "On Bass: What the Funk?".
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