A Tale of Two Bassists

I don’t get out to see nearly as many gigs as I would like, but there was two I made it to this year that I’ve particularly enjoyed. And the interesting thing is that the artist on both occasions was a bassist leading their own band.

The first was Larry Graham – yes, the legendary Larry Graham from Sly Stone’s band. The man is more than a consummate pro; he is a force of nature. He still plays amazing, he sings, he dances, he runs around the venue playing a bass solo, all in a way that would convince anyone that he is 40 years younger than he actually is. I saw him two years ago, and it was exactly the same experience. In fact, most of the set was exactly the same, right down to the bass solo. Did I care? Absolutely not – the man (and his band) were incredible, and left me feeling completely inspired and elated.


The other gig was Esperanza Spalding. When talent was being handed out, somehow this lady got in the queue twice. She is a fantastic bassist (acoustic and electric) but I think her singing ability is even more astonishing. The music was endlessly creative and hugely eclectic. The musicianship of the band was world class, and the overall production was completely unique – I’ve never heard anything exactly like it. She and the band were incredible on many levels, and very, very slick in their presentation.

Esperanza Spalding

But I wasn’t moved emotionally; the bottom line is that you either are or you aren’t.

Larry Graham and Graham Central Station did move me. It was like watching and listening to history; funky grooves that reached down deep into your soul and psyche. And all performed by a man who has been there and done it – many times, but the fire is still burning – very strong.

For me, Esperanza is a phenomenon, part of the future of music. But Larry is…THE MAN!! Go check them both out, you can’t lose.