We learn a lot of things at this joint. Things like, whoa, Norway totally dominates funny jazz bass names.
At least for the first half of the alphabet. Now we’re here to see if it’s true for M-S.
Place your bets, folks!
In the “M” quadrant, immortal titans Cecil McBee and Charles Mingus square off against Norsemen Jo Berger Myhre and Guro Skumsnes Moe. Jazz and blues bassist Clarence Horatius “Big” Miller enters the fray, tipping this round to the U.S., with results complicated by the appearance of Jesús Alfredo Merchán aka Chucho Merchán , Colombian. Overall, a strong 4-2 start for the Americas. Cecil McBee emerges with the highest net funny name value, because it was adopted as the name of a fashion brand in Japan without the bassist’s consent. (McBee unsuccessfully sued the company to stop.)
(Cecil McBee with Chico Freeman, “Wise One”)
But Norway comes back at us strong on “N” with bassist Magnus Skavhaug Nergaard, involved in such interestingly named bands as Monkey Plot and Ich Bin N!ntendo.
“O” is a tight squeeze between the Nordic Eivind Opsvik, Poland’s Darek Oleszkiewicz, and Nigeria’s Ugonna Okegwo, based in NYC. We don’t know what yr gonna think but we’re gonna give it to Ugonna.
“P” is an embarrassment of riches, musically and name-wise. We are tempted to drop the rivalrous banter and contemplate our bassists in reverent awe. There is legendary Jaco Pastorius, the Jimi Hendrix of electric bass. There are bass masters Gary Peacock and John Patitucci. There is the great Norseman Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen who produced arguably the warmest, most resonant double bass tones ever. Lesser known to me are Truck Parham, Robert Popwell and Giuseppe Prestipino Giarritta aka Pino Presti. But let’s give this one to Alcide Louis “Slow Drag” Pavageau taking us back to New Orleans and the roots of jazz itself.
Pluckings are slim (See what I did there?) in the “Q” category so we have to take liberties. We go with the multi-genre bassist called “Q” though his real name is Quentin Berry. That’s all we got.
“R” is a bland letter, not for music, but for names. Norseman Steinar Raknes comes out on top. Golf clap.
“S” is more interesting. Honorable mention of course to Avery Sharpe because he reminds us of Ingebrigt Håker Flaten. Otherwise, we got Len Skeat, Todd Sickafoose, Putter Smith, Leroy Eliot “Slam” Stewart, Victor Sproles, Ben Street, Ike Sturm, the great Steve Swallow, and the multi-talented Esperanza Spalding going up against Norsemen Jon Rune Strøm, Øyvind Storesund, Baard Slagsvold and Audun Skorgen.
(Steve Swallow with John Scofield and Bill Stewart)
We have to stop here, because we’re approaching the official BoFN word limit. So, we’ve had a respectable showing by our Nordic friends, but we’ve got them outnumbered. For now.
And speaking of numbers, Dave needs a higher number of dollars to fight cancer, so please visit the link below.