Reggie Young is a New York-based bassist who debuted in 1997 with ‘Among Friends’ which was followed in 2002 with a collaboration alongside John Patitucci. Then for four years he was the touring MD with first, Faith Evans and then Kelly Price. Since then, high-profile session work and tutoring has kept him more than busy but in between he’s been working on this – his third full solo set. On ‘Steppin’ Up’, Reggie uses his signature 5 and 6 string basses to create a surprisingly varied set. All too often bass player-led albums become self-indulgent affairs with one ponderous jam following another. Here, though, Young uses his instruments not just to underpin the dynamic rhythm but also to lead (at least in parts) the melodies thereby enabling him to cover more generic bases – soul, funk, jazz, smooth jazz and rock.
In places the playing will remind you of the great Marcus Miller – never more so than on ‘Funk Avenue’. This one’s a deal like the classic ‘Maputo’ which Miller helmed for David Sanborn and Bob James. Here the Sanborn role is taken by Darren Rahn while Garnet Walters’ keys sparkle just as brightly as James’ did. Walters shines too on the soulful opener, ‘Play For Me’. It’s a tight mid-tempo groove with a minimal vocal (chiefly the title line) from Tasheima Young. The only other cut that could be dubbed “vocal” is the heavy, repetitive ‘Judgement’. Here the vocal is simply the eerily chanted title giving the whole thing a Clinton-esque feel.
Elsewhere a version of Sting’s ‘Seven Days’ is light and summery and the slowies, ‘World Peace’ and ‘We Believe’ extend the smooth flavour. At the other extreme, ‘Champion’, ‘It’s Me Again’ and ‘Odysee Blues’ are rocky while the Hammond-led ‘Gumbo’ is Reggie’s tribute to soul-jazz. A vibraphone leads the melody on the self-explanatory ‘Metheny Way’ while the bebop era is alluded to on ‘Downtown’. Add to all that a down ‘n’ dirty ‘Soul Food’ and I hope you’ll see what I meant by “varied”. You can find out more @ www.reggieyoung.net