Ray Brown is my undisputed favourite bass player. His feel, sound, solos, lines – it’s all fabulous. I often transcribe his lines and licks and try and incorporate them in my own playing. Check him out with his trio with Gene Harris and Jeff Hamilton, or with Oscar Peterson’s trio of course. Here’s a sample: this is Ray’s solo feature on the changes to “How High the Moon” on the Live At The Stratford Shakespearean Festival” recorded in 1956. Listen here.
I’ve recently been reading Scott Le Faro’s biography. When I started playing bass I didn’t really get what he was doing on in all those famous Bill Evans recordings. Now I know better! He’s one of those players who shifted the role of the bass, and nothing has been the same since. Bass players now are expected to be as all over their instrument as any horn player. It’s all a very far cry from Wellman Braud with the Duke Ellington in the 1920s (although he was a virtuoso in his own way too!). Here’s a bit of Scott Le Faro with Bill Evans and Paul Motian playing Waltz for Debby on the Village Vanguard recordings in 1961: listen here