Bass Corner / Bass Melodies

Some of the songs available on were written for the bassist to be featured playing the melody. In some cases, the bass alone has the melody, while in other cases, the bass plays the melody, harmony, or counter melody with another instrument. We have charts that explore all these areas! The Bass features below are found listed under the recording artist bassist. Text about the Bass feature arrangement is found by clicking on the song title, which takes you to that song's page, which has a Bass Corner tab giving you more info. Don Sickler: When programming music for a performance, I'm usually also looking for something to feature my bassist. In my over 35 years of instructing jazz ensembles at Columbia University in NYC, I know I've inspired my bass players by giving them a feature. A Bass Melody feature adds a different color to a group's performance. If I feel one of our songs would also be great as a Bass Melody feature, but is as yet unrecorded that way, you'll find it below under (yet) unrecorded , with an audio clip from the original recorded song.

    Jon Burr

    Bassist Jon Burr's credits go on for miles. At the age of 16 Charles Mingus asked him to sit in on bass at the Village Vanguard. He has worked alongside many of the jazz giants while cultivating his own unique sound. His early discography includes recordings and performances with Buddy Rich, Chet Baker, Hank Jones, vocalists Eartha Kitt and Rita Moreno, and a five year tour with Tony Bennett and numerous Broadway credits. Read more...

  • Smokin' O.P.'s - Jon Burr Swing (medium up)
  • Paul Chambers

    Bassist Paul Chambers was a leading rhythmic force in the 1950s and 1960s. He became one of the signature bassists in jazz history. Born in Pittsburgh but raised in Detroit, Chambers initially took up the baritone horn as a child. He followed suit with the tuba and didn't become interested in the string bass until 1949. Listening to Charlie Parker and Bud Powell and studying under a bassist of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Chambers began making headway in small bars of Hastings Street area and doing club jobs with Kenny Burrell, Thad Jones and Barry Harris. He did classical work in a group called the Detroit String Band, a rehearsal symphony orchestra. Read more...

  • Ease It - Paul Chambers Swing (medium up)
  • Visitation - Paul Chambers Swing (medium)
  • Charles Fambrough

    Widely known as one of the most virtuosic bassists to come out of the 1970s, Charles Fambrough made his mark on the jazz scene when he started playing with Grover Washington, Jr.'s band in 1970. Getting the recognition he deserved from this gig, he joined McCoy Tyner and later joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Fambrough was known for his fearless conviction to whatever style of music he was playing, which led to a successful career in the Latin jazz world as well, performing with Airto Moreira, Flora Purim, and Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band. Fambrough was also known for his compositional skills, bringing many of his tunes into the band of the great musicians he played with. He is one of the great jazz musicians to have come out of Philadelphia. Read more...

  • One For Honor - Charles Fambrough Latin/swing (uptempo)
  • Michael Formanek

    One marker of bassist Michael Formanek's creativity and versatility is the range of distinguished musicians of several generations he's worked with. While still a teenager in the 1970s he toured with drummer Tony Williams and saxophonist Joe Henderson; starting in the '80s he played long stints with Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Fred Hersch and Freddie Hubbard. (As a callback to those days, Formanek recorded with hardbop pianist Freddie Redd in 2013). Read more...

  • Brown's Town - Kenny Dorham Swing (medium)
  • David Friesen

    David Friesen picked up the bass at age 19 when he began studying with a member of the Seattle Symphony while he was serving in the army. His career picked up in the 1970s when he toured with notable bandleaders such as Joe Henderson, Marian McPartland and Billy Harper. David has recorded over 65 CDs as a leader and co-leader. Read more...

  • Bass-ment - Kenny Drew, Sr. Swing (medium up)
  • Yuriy Galkin

    Yuriy Galkin was born in Russia into a family of musicians. He started to play classical piano at the age of 7, picked up electric bass by the time he was 15, and after only a few months of self-teaching he was able to play professionally. He became interested in jazz and was influenced by a number of great bassists including Paul Chambers, Ron Carter, Charles Mingus, Dave Holland, Niels Pedersen and John Patitucci. His imagination fueled by those great artists, Yuriy started practicing double bass and dedicated himself to the world of jazz music. Read more...

  • Bass Song - Yuriy Galkin 3/4 swing (medium)
  • Richie Goods

    Known for his combination of solidity and versatility, Richie Goods has had a wonderful career in music. Hailing from the great music city of Pittsburgh, Goods went on to study at the Berklee College of Music and then onward to private study with none other than Ray Brown and Ron Carter. Read more...

  • John Charles - Ronnie Mathews Swing (medium)
  • Daryl Johns

    Daryl Johns was born in the Bronx and began playing bass at age seven with encouragement from his father, drummer Steve Johns, and his mother, saxophonist Debbie Keefe. Johns has studied with Chip Jackson and Dave Santoro. He has attended the Jazz in July program, the Vermont Jazz Center, and the Litchfield Jazz Camp. Johns sits in regularly around the New York area with musicians including Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman, and Randy Brecker. He also performs throughout New York and New Jersey with a trio of his peers. Johns was featured on a Fox television segment called “12-Year-Old Jazz Prodigy." Read more...

  • Ballad For Jaco - Jon Davis Ballad
  • Bet - Doug Watkins Swing (medium up)
  • Blues Scam - Richard Wyands Swing (medium)
  • Dancing Sunbeam - Eli "Lucky" Thompson Swing (medium)
  • Dee's Den - Richard Wyands Swing (medium)
  • Ease It - Paul Chambers Swing (medium up)
  • Midnight Creeper - Norman Simmons Swing (medium slow)
  • Mister Man - Eli "Lucky" Thompson Swing (medium up)
  • Personal Space - Geoffrey Keezer Latin
  • Plain But The Simple Truth - Eli "Lucky" Thompson Swing (medium)
  • Red Sky Waltz - Don Friedman Swing (medium)
  • Silk - Norman Simmons Swing (medium)
  • So You Say - Cecilia Coleman Swing (medium up)
  • Tempo di Max - Don Sickler Swing (uptempo)
  • Two Sides Of A Penny - Cecilia Coleman Swing (medium)
  • Yes It Is - Richard Wyands Swing (medium)
  • Wilbur Little

    Wilbur Little was a wonderful bassist who came of age in the early 1950s under the prime influences of Jimmy Blanton, Oscar Pettiford and Ray Brown. With his beat of swinging splendor and sense of harmonic and rhythmic daring, Little was able to contribute strongly in such well known recording sessions as Bobby Jaspar's "Blues for Tomorrow," Tommy Flanagan's "Overseas," J. J. Johnson's "Live at Café Bohemia." Read more...

  • Fuzz - Bobby Jaspar Swing (medium up)
  • Cecil McBee

    Cecil McBee has been on the jazz scene for many years; he always plays marvelously in any style. Cecil is a true master of bass lines. His ballad accompaniment is exceptional, and studying and comparing his base lines on several recordings of his beautiful ballad Close To You Alone is a mind-opening experience. Read more...

  • "D" Bass-ic Blues - Cecil McBee Swing (medium)
  • George Mraz

    Revered for his impeccable intonation, inventive accompaniment and complete mastery of the bass's technical demands, George Mraz is one of the greatest bassists of the last fifty years. Mraz has such profound ears that he has been chosen by some of the greatest musicians in history: Oscar Peterson, Hank Jones and Tommy Flanagan to name but a few. Read more...

  • Look Inside - Kenny Drew, Jr. Swing (medium)
  • Oscar Pettiford

    Oscar Pettiford's mother was Choctaw and his father was half Cheokee and half African American, making for an interestingly rich musical background. He grew up singing and playing piano in a family band before eventually switching to the bass at the age of 14. Pettiford was strongly influenced by the great Milt Hinton who helped convince Pettiford that if he continued to pursue music, he would make a successful career from it. Performing with Dizzy Gillespie helped Pettiford become recognized as one of the first bassists in the bebop world. Read more...

  • Dancing Sunbeam - Eli "Lucky" Thompson Swing (medium)
  • Mister Man - Eli "Lucky" Thompson Swing (medium up)
  • Plain But The Simple Truth - Eli "Lucky" Thompson Swing (medium)
  • Abdullah Rafik

    Discographies show Rafik playing two sessions with Rahsaan Roland Kirk in 1963. Pianist Harold Mabern was on both sessions. Two other NYC musicians who were friends of ours, trumpeter Virgil Jones and drummer Walter Perkins, also recorded with Rafik and Kirk then, but both are deceased. Read more...

  • Get In The Basement - Rahsaan Roland Kirk Swing (medium up)
  • Peter Washington

    Peter Washington took up the bass at an early age. He became interested in jazz while at the University of California, Berkeley. He was a natural talent and began freelancing with the likes of vibist Bobby Hutcherson, tenor saxophonist Harold Land, vocalists Ernestine Anderson and Chris Conner. He joined Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in New York while freelancing in the NY area and worked his way up into becoming one of the first-call musicians on the New York scene. In the early 1990s, Peter joined the Tommy Flanagan Trio -- known to many as the "greatest trio in jazz" -- and played with them until Tommy's passing in 2002. Peter is also renowned for his work with Bill Charlap's trio along with drummer Kenny Washington. Read more...
  • One For Peter - David Hazeltine Swing (medium up)
  • Pete's Sake - David Hazeltine Swing (medium up)
  • Buster Williams

    Bassist Buster Williams is an iconic musician whose trademark sound and styling are present on over 300 recordings to date. Williams, known for his ability to simultaneously be insistent yet supportive, has been the bassist of choice for legends including Sarah Vaughan, Herbie Hancock, Mary Lou Williams, Hank Jones and even Ron Carter (in his two-bass "Piccolo" quartet). His prolific contributions in the recording studio range from dates with Nancy Wilson and Betty Carter to Art Blakey, Woody Shaw, Dexter Gordon and Miles Davis. Read more...

  • John Charles - Ronnie Mathews Swing (medium)
  • Jimmy Woode

    An important performer but decidedly less celebrated than deserved, Jimmy (James Bryant) Woode was a formidable presence in rhythm sections of bands lead by numerous jazz icons. A partial and curtailed list presents Sidney Bechet, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker and for five years Duke Ellington. Read more...

  • Con-Fab - Fritz Pauer Swing (medium up)