Somebody had to do this. Well, actually, no, nobody had to do this at all, but let’s get started anyway! This will only get us halfway there, I’m afraid.
We start with “A,” a tough call for jazz bassists, but we give it to Ahmed Abdul-Malik (1927 – 1993), who, interestingly, self-invented the name and a Sudanese heritage, though he was in fact born of Caribbean immigrant parents who gave him the name Jonathan Tim Jr.. That counts for a lot around here. We like multiple first names, and even have a postulate to prove it (see “Arthur Lee Samuel Consequence”).
“B” is for Svein Olav Blindheim (born 1954), a Norwegian bassist whose brother Oddbjørn Blindheim plays jazz piano.
With “C” ruled by giants like Ron Carter, Stanley Clarke, and Paul Chambers, we shift focus here to Curtis Counce (1926 – 1963). Though lesser known, he played with many of the greatest.
“D” is a dead heat between Brandi Disterheft (born 1980) of Vancouver and Mbizo Johnny Dyani (1945–1986) of South Africa. Your call.
“E” is for Mats Eilertsen (born 1975), another Norwegian bassist. My Spidey senses are tingling. Norway seems to have a strong jazz scene, and it’s starting to dominate here name-wise.
Spidey sense is corroborated with our “F” pick, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (born 1971). By the way, that doesn’t mean he plays out of tune. Maybe he just likes flat keys. To be punnish (yes, pun intended there, too), to like B flat is not the same as to be flat.
For “G” we have to pass over one of my favorites, Eddie Gómez, and give it to Ole Amund Gjersvik (born 1963). Norwegian! This is looking like a Viking raid. And our regional specialist Arto isn’t around to negotiate peace.
(Eddie Gomez with Bill Evans.)
With “H” we got titans of the bass like Charlie Haden, Percy Heath, and Dave Holland, but we got to give this one to . . . Stig Hvalryg (born 1960). I’ll let you figure out the nationality (if you’re struggling, you’re trying too hard).
For “I” Charles H. “Chuck” Israels (born 1936) merits mention for his outstanding work with Bill Evans, but our pick is David Izenzon (1932 – 1979) of Pittsburg. Take that, Norway.
“J” includes great masters of jazz funk like Paul Jackson (born 1947) and Alphonso Johnson (born 1951). But we have to give this one to Greig Stewart “Chubby” Jackson (1918 – 2003), who has the great virtue of not being Norwegian.
(Paul Jackson lays down the bass with Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters.)
The Norwegians come back at us with “K,” where we got Olaf Kamfjord (born 1962) in a dead heat with Bjørn Kjellemyr (born 1950).
With honorable mention for the groundbreaking Scott LaFaro (1936–1961) who died tragically young, our pick for “L” is Abraham Laboriel Sr. (born 1947) father of Abe Laboriel Jr., a drummer, and brother of Johnny Laboriel, a singer.
So, Norwegians routed us but didn’t get the last word. We’ll see how it goes with the other half of the alphabet.