We would be remiss if we didn’t pay homage to some of our favorite bass players.
Meshell Ndegeocello tops the list.
Often credited as giving birth to Neo-soul, Ndegeocello’s 1993 album Plantation Lullabies opened the door for the commercial success of Neo-soul acts such as D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, and Lauryn Hill.
One of the things we admire most about Ndegeocello’s music is her resistance to being labelled as one single style or genre.
Ndegeocello herself is quoted as saying “I can pretty much play any kind of music I want to. I can stay creative. I don’t have to be locked down to a persona or a generalization for a marketing team.”
Her genre spanning Grammy nominated albums prove her point.
Best Contemporary R&B Album Peace Beyond Passion in 1996
Cookie: The Anthropological Mixtape in 2002
Best Contemporary Jazz Album
The Spirit Music Jamia: Dance Of The Infidel in 2005
Best Urban/Contemporary Album
Ventriloquism in 2018
Many bass players release albums full of displays of their technical skills that often end up as meandering jazz leaning so-called bass records.
Ryan Madora, music journalist for No Treble, writes that Ndegeocello breaks this mold. He describes her bass playing as “natural, foundational, and beautifully reminiscent of the earth’s landscape. As much as the terrain is varied, from sand to soil, clay to stone, Ndegeocello adapts her playing to the ecology of a song. Slow jams are rooted by dark, full, legato notes. Precious gems in the form of fills and high register vibrato add sparkle and intrigue to every track. Punchy, articulate, and brighter tones add attitude to funk and rock.”
Ventriloquism is a perfect example of this. Ndegeocello puts her own compelling spin on classic songs from the 80’s and 90’s. Read more about her process creating this album in this piece on MusicRadar.com.
It’s almost unbelievable how versatile Ndegeocello bass playing is and at the same time, there is something clearly identifiable about her style on every track. She admits this saying “I think I sound the same on every bass. I sound like me.”
We admire Meshell Ndegeocello’s incredible musicianship, her refusal to be held fast by music industry standards, and the way she never fails to infuse her personal experience into the music she makes. Her tracks always sound new and familiar at the same time.
Listen to some of our other favorite tracks where you can hear Ndegeocello’s bass chops on full display:
“Dead End” from a KCPR session
“Ecclesiastes: Free My Heart” from Letterman
“Wild Night” with John Mellencamp
“Don’t Disturb This Groove” from Ventriloquism