I’ve put together a selection of my favourite YouTube videos by jazz double bassists. My aim is to share some great jazz music that you might not have heard before, so there's lots of notable bassists missing. I’ve also shared mostly modern day bassists, so I will be sure to revisit the list with more in future (did someone say Ray Brown!).
"Shhh" by Wycliffe Gordon - Ben Williams on double bass
I love this performance and it’s a world class band. Ben Williams pulls a huge tone from his double bass. I’m pretty sure he’s using a New Standard Cleveland hybrid model bass with Thomastik 'Spriocore Weich' strings. It also looks like he’s playing acoustically! Whatever’s going on he gets an incredible tone and plays a classy solo with some killer lines!
The bass solo starts five minutes in. Enjoy :-)
Neil Miner - ‘C Jam Blues'
Double bassist Neil Miner is another favourite of mine and he swings like mad in this trio recording. It’s classic jazz double bass with a fat tone that really drives the band. I can’t say enough how much I love his fills and solos. His performance in this video is how I aspire to play walking bass. Great tone, killer swing feel and an awesome groove!
Marco Panascia - ‘Solo Jazz Bass Blues in F’
Marco is one of NYC’s top jazz bassists and this video will show you why. It was released only a year after YouTube had launched over 10 years ago, so he was a real pioneer! I can still remember watching this video for the first time. It blew me away and I’m still in awe of how effortless he makes it look. If you are into virtuosic bebop solos played on the double bass with real passion, Marco Panascia is your man!
Brad Mehldau Trio 'Ode [Number 19]' - Larry Grenadier on Double bass
I’m a huge fan of Larry Grenadier, so I've had to include two of his videos!
First off, check out the bass solo at 02:13 with the Brad Mehldau trio! It’s just too good. The interplay between musicians, the way the solo builds and the phrases develop is a masterclass in improvisation. I recommend listening to this in a dark room with your favourite drink. :-)
Rebecca Martin and Larry Grenadier ‘ No Moon at All'
This video is very low fi, but it’s got a great vibe and I’m sure you will love the bass playing. If you would like to hear more like this I can recommend their album ‘When I was Long Ago’. The band is only vocals, double bass and saxophone, so you can really hear Larry’s playing clearly. In the meantime check this out!
Craig Butterfield - 'Donna Lee'
Wow, just wow! I’m still getting over how good Craig’s bass playing is. His arco skills and left hand technique are flawless! He also writes some beautiful music so be sure to look him up online once you've seen this video. You won’t regret it!
Side note: Craig Butterfield also taught Lauren Pierce which might explain where she got some of her superhuman double bass skills! It's also rumoured they can fly. ;-)
B'ANG Duet - ‘Whisper Not' - Petros Klampanis & Or Bareket on Double bass
I was lucky enough to meet Or and Petros when I attended their masterclass at the 2015 ISB conference. They are seriously inspiring musicians so hearing them play and teach was a real highlight of the show for me.
Playing double bass duets is really hard and takes great skill to do well. This is a masterclass in tasteful playing!
The Wood Brothers ‘Atlas' - Chris Wood on Double Bass
Double bassist Chris Wood is a force of nature. I love his energy, incredible tone and tasty note choices. Don’t miss this one!
String Warning: Chris is using a full set of Pirastro's Eudoxa strings. These are sheep gut core, wound in silver and hand polished. So, you know they are not going to be cheap! His tone is to die for by the price may cause serious damage to your finances, so only watch this video if you can resist the compulsion to buy new strings! ;-)
Katie Thiroux - 'Oh, What A Beautiful Morning' & 'Ray's Kicks'
This video was the first I heard by Katie Thiroux and I love it! It’s fantastic to see a modern bassist playing hard swinging jazz with some superb arrangements. Check out the tone, the energy and the good vibes!
There are loads of great videos I’ve missed, this is just a small selection to get started. I will be adding to this list in future and would love to hear your recommendations. As these are YouTube videos there are more modern artists, but I’ve not forgotten about the pioneers of jazz bass such as Paul Chambers, Ron Carter and Scott LaFaro. I'm sure they will be covered in a future update, or possibly a separate list. Anyway, let me know what you think and what's missing!