Here we wind up our alphabetical odyssey through the names of jazz bassists, searching for the most numerous numinous names, whether Norwegian or non.
Our Norse friends are being singled out, but only because they brought so much attention to themselves in the first two stages of this journey. To recap: our first round took us up to the letter “L” and revealed an astounding preponderance of Norwegian bassists.
This was an unexpected and humiliating defeat, at least for those of us who stand for . . . uh . . . a level playing field in funny name distribution insofar as it pertains to geographical origin.
Norsemen also had a very strong showing as we re-engaged our journey, from M to S, but they were narrowly edged out by non-Norwegian bassists.
Some might think it an error in judgement to look at the global distribution of jazz bassists as some sort of zero sum game.
There is some merit in that critique. Nevertheless, we . . . uh . . . Well, we’ve invested too darn much in that premise, so we’re gonna stubbornly cling to it, to the very end, dangnurbit.
Anyway, our preliminary scan promises more parity with regard to Scandinavian bass pluckers.
You might doubt that as we come upon our first letter. For “T” we find that Norwegians Magne Thormodsæter and Bjørnar Kaldefoss Tveite are neck and neck with the rest of the world, represented by Jamaaladeen Tacuma of the USA and Jannick Top of France. We give it (with no bias or favoritism!) to the latter two, because putting their names together creates alliteration, assonance, and consonance–a nice poetic effect. Right?
The letter “U” also appears to be split down the middle between Norwegian Sigurd Ulveseth and Phil Upchurch (USA). We give it to Phil (again, no bias here, no siree Bob!) because of the exquisite wordplay, suggesting a preponderance of parishioners in the pews, where–we at BoFN approve of this kind of irony–they probably don’t play jazz.
For “V”, rest-of-the-world comfortably leads Norway, with Ole Morten Vågan edged out by Hein van de Geyn (Holland), Mads Vinding (Denmark), Leroy Vinnegar (USA) and Miroslav Vitous (former Czechoslovakia).
(Miroslav with Chick Corea and Roy Haynes)
Vitous and Vinnegar have immense standing in jazz, but we’re going to give this one to Leroy. Because Leroy Vinnegar. Plus, he was on that Swiss Movement album with Les McCann:
Victor Lemonte Wooten easily takes “W” for the USA. I first noticed Victor when he did Jaco Pastorius‘s “Teen Town” on the Jaco Tribute album. This is a tune that all aspiring electric jazz bassists must bust their chops on, or at least try:
Victor also does a nice one-man-band with Stevie Wonder‘s “Isn’t She Lovely” which is itself lovely:
The letter “X”, somewhat like “Q” in our previous installment, presents some difficulties. We have to bend the rules here not only for names, but for genre. First, we note the punk rock band called X, and its bassist who has the stage name John Doe. This may be the first funny plain name in BoFN history, but even better, his real name is John Nommensen Duchac (USA).
Heath (real name Hiroshi Morie) plays bass for the ever-resurrecting metal band X Japan, a position once held by the great Taiji Sawada, who is sadly no longer among the living.
Our final bassist in the this letter category is Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe, Brides of Destruction and Sixx:A.M.
We give it to Nikki, because it’s hard to find even one X, much less four.
We are forced to agree that the above has nothing to do with jazz, whatsoever, but no one can deny that there are no Norwegians involved. I think.
Eldee Young (USA) has it covered for “Y”. The long and short of it is that Eldee sets a new ole precedent for self-contradictory names. We may have a Funny Name Theorem brewing here.
(Eldee with Hysear Don Walker and Isaac Red Holt)
As our journey ends we come to “Z”, where Per Zanussi (Norwegian/Italian) faces off against Chester “Little Bear” Zardis (USA). That’s not much excitement for a finale, but at least it comes out only 25% Norwegian. And that’s what counts.
Apologies to all Norwegians for this series! Truth be told, it’s a wildly disproportionate but awesome contribution you’ve made to jazz.