CD review

Jorge Roeder – “El Suelo Mio” (solo bass album)

Jorge Roeder – El Suelo Mio
(Self-released.  CD Review by Sebastian Scotney)

Surely those huge free-standing speakers need to go (I’m often told). They take up far too much room in your house, Seb. Why do you still keep them after all these years?

Well the answer to that question is clear when listening to this album. The speakers really allow the full, strong, beautifully-caught sound (h/t Mark Goodell) of a quite wonderful bassist to fill the room. It’s something very special, to be listened to intently. To hear, to enjoy, to feel that soundwith you,  surrounding you.

El Suelo Mio by Peruvian-born Jorge Roeder is more than just a personal statement. It feels like some combination of a rite of passage and an act of gratitude as well. It’s an album he has put his whole mind, life, soul and heart into. He names almost sixty people in the acknowledgements for the album – plus an indeterminate number of “sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and in-laws.”

Among the people he thanks are the bassists, and as one listens one can certainly sense the inspiration of the one he names last: Charlie Haden, “for creating the path I now take, and for rooting for me,” not least in an arco version of Ornette Coleman’s ‘Lonely Woman’ near the end of the album. He also mentions Dave Holland, (I’d guess that Roeder must know both One’s All and Emerald Tears very well indeed), Larry Grenadier, Avishai Cohen, John Patitucci, Linda Oh, Harish Raghavan, Joe Sanders and Ben Street. Roeder himself is one of that elite group of New York-based bassists, every one of them a very strong and characterful player.

He has a fascinating life- story which is well told HERE. As a highly promising teenager on cello his studies took him to the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory in St. Petersburg. As bassist he made his mark at New England Conservatory in Boston. Then, after the move to New York,  he met Julian Lage when the guitarist was just a 17-year-old, and they have gone on to record several times together and to  travel the world. And grow musically….

Roeder explains the title of the album. “El Suelo Mio” is a quote from the song by Chabuca Granda ‘Bello Durmiente.’ And what does it mean? [It] “can be interpreted as ‘the floor of mine’ or ‘the ground of mine,’ which I attribute to references to the role of the bass in music. The bass is usually regarded as the foundation of any musical rendition, and the way I see music is and has always been through the lens of the bass part. So when I present this body of work, it comes from the roots, the ‘ground’ of the music that is a part of me.”

LJN friend Peter Hum has described what Roeder does best in a vivid quote that the bassist uses in his PR: “The music feels like it’s dancing from the ground up.” What I enjoyed on this album starts with that idea, but what I also really appreciated was the expressive range. There is astonishing evanescent lightness of touch in ‘Chabuca’. The velocity in the final sections of ‘Pleneyo’ is jaw-dropping. There is levity, humour and a hint of Carla Bley’s ‘Can’t Get My Motor To Start’ in ‘Bounce’ (that is on video – link below). The curious tremolando he gets on ‘Patrona’ is other-worldly. And there is stylistic variety too, notably the way the Peruvian folklore roots are an intrinsic part of the picture. Roeder has described some of the astonishing  work that has gone into the title track as follows: “I applied the shapes I learned on the guitar to this piece—for example, the E major open chord—although transposed to different chordal possibilities under a low D pedal. I tried to utilize the instrument’s full polyphonic potential, going from double, to triple, and even quadruple stops, in which I play all the strings of the bass to produce a messy, rich, deep sound.” The absolutely unshakeable security in tuning when he does that is unbelievable.

The solo bass album is almost like an art-form of its own, and the more I listened to this album, the more I was curious to find out what favourite solo bass albums friends would name. The list., which is far longer than I had imagined it would be, is  below.

El Suelo Mio” is a really strong statement. It belongs on any list of the very best solo bass albums.  And the speakers are staying…

LINK: Jorge Roeder’s YouTube Channel – check out Bounce 

APPENDIX – SOLO BASS ALBUMS RECOMMENDED BY FRIENDS ON FACEBOOK

Roberto Bonati – Vesper and Silence

Renaud Garcia-Fons – Solo The Marcevol Concert

Calum Gourlay – Live at the Ridgeway

Larry Grenadier – The Gleaners

Ingebrigt Håker Flaten – Double Bass
– Birds – Solo Electric
– Steel – Live In Bucharest

Jonas Hellborg – The Silent Life

Peter Herbert – Naked Bass I
– Bassooka

Dave Holland – One’s All
– Emerald Tears

Dieter Ilg – Bass

Peter Kowald – Was Da Ist

Robert Landfermann – Null

John Lindberg – ‘Luminosity’

Red Mitchell – Home Suite – Sweet Home

John Patitucci – The Soul of The Bass

Barre Phillips – ‘Call Me When You Get There’.
– His first album, released under several names including ‘bass barre’ and ‘journal violone’

Claude Tchamitchian – Jeu d’Enfants
– Another Childhood

1 reply »

  1. I’m so proud of my cousin Jorge Roeder.
    His mother’s legacy (Aunt Chabela) will live on him, now and forever.

    Like

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