Editor's Rating

Busty and the Bass's 'Eddie', their second, is cool, sophisticated, considered; sassy and brassy

7.5

IF THERE’S one thing you’re gonna have to do if you enter the world of jazz, it’s learn

Learn, comprehend, explore, inculcate, progress. Find the rules, get the rules in your blood – then bust ‘em, but learn when to. It’s a world away from the three-chord trick. It’s a lifetime’s vocation, is the jazz.

You can see just the craft, the sweat, the constant application of thought in Eddie, the second full-release album by Canadian octet Busty and the Bass  – it’s an album they have spent a decade building toward, they say; and it’s gonna be out in the shops come this Friday, August 14th. 

The seven met in their very first week as freshers on the jazz program at university in Montreal. Like minds sought like and found them in that salon. They were straight at it, out in the live arena around town, learning in the crucible of performance; built a reputation as a live outfit; released a brace of EPs, Glam in 2015, Lift a year later.

Uncommon Good was the first full-length affair they committed to tape and offered forth to the listening world, taking the best-received of their evolving live jams and structuring them for the studio.

And then they took five, took stock; they decided to go and write the next album instead of setting down a live flow and attempting to bottle it for posterity.

“We took one-week or two-week stretches and wrote by ourselves, and then we came together for three uninterrupted weeks in the studio,” says trumpeter Scott Bevins (trumpet). “Uncommon Good was like a patchwork. On Eddie, we had fully fleshed out ideas for the first time.”

And you can her that crispness from the get-go, with the sweet souljazz sass of opener “Out Of Love” the guest vocal for which they recruited someone of no less a calibre than Macy Gray. We took a look at it when it dropped as a single here: we noted it as “an electric-piano driven glimmering break, providing a swinging framework for Macy’s smokiness.”

The band’s Nick Ferraro says of the tune’s bittersweet theme: “‘Out of Love’ started as a remix, but the song’s vocal idea quickly became its own thing.

“I was getting a lot of hot and cold communication from someone and this song is me airing out a bit of that frustration.” You can hear it on the Bandcamp embed, below.

Second track “Kids” pulls more groove from that same vein, sitting back in a lazy piano with some swing in its pocket. It’s sadder, yearning, and the brass brings every nuance out of the harmonic possibilities. It’s in the shoulders, this one.

Things get a little spacier on “Baggy Eyed Dopeman” and with George Clinton in on the game, how could it be any other way; it’s got an airy funk, it positively bounds down the sidewalk, the brass occasionally interjecting really fast and intricate motifs to tug back to a bop thing, just for a little counterplay to that easy sunshine.

Seattle multi-instrumentalist and bandleader in her own right Amber Navran comes aboard for the breathy slowie “Clouds”, This is a real after-dark number, sat hot on your hips. It has an offbeat and leftfield coda where it slurs down like melting chocolate to its end.

“Little Late” pushes out to a very ice-cool 80s’ funk, guitars muted and choppy, lyrically proud and sad. “Eddie”, the track itself, is loose-limbed and rides aboard a cool little break; it also features some heartfelt falsetto to really bring your lips into a smile.

“ET” brings things right up, with a very fine p-funk kinda break, synth washes, over which the rhyming, courtesy Detriot’s Illa J, and brass skips; “Summer” is a bittersweet lovers’ torchsong of a very fine weave. It’s pitched right in that spot in your heart where you could cry happy tears or regretful ones. Step carefully. Things resolve in a more upbeat fashion with the come-hither of “Cold Nights”, a vibes-heralded offer to come warm up.

Busty and the Bass know how to fashion a torchsong, a two-hander, calling and responding; on this album their concerns are as much the affairs of the heart and all their interminable twists as the pure musical. I’d love to hear them loosen these up in the live arena, hear how they breathe and rag out at the edges of what’s known in jazz circles as “the pocket”.

It’s cool, sophisticated, considered; sassy, brassy, and it can be yours come August 14th. 

Busty and the Bass’s Eddie will be released on digital, CD and double vinyl formats on the date above; order yours over at their Bandcamp page or via their website, at which various merch bundles are also on offer.

http://bustyandthebass.bandcamp.com/track/out-of-love-feat-macy-gray