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Album Review

The key to success for any sideman who takes the plunge into the realm of solo artistry is finding a unique voice on his chosen instrument. For Gerald Veasley — a veteran ensemble player who has graced the music of everyone from Grover Washington, Jr. to Joe Zawinal and Special EFX — combining his skilled approach on the six-string electric bass with a background full of every color of jazz and R&B has led him to the forefront of modern bass players. If his 1992 debut found him looking ahead to an artistic expansion of sorts, the beefy bounce and heart-rending cool of Signs points the way towards the place where growth meets commercialism and soul joins lightheartedness. Veasley's tight grip on the very harmonious possibilities of the six-string (inspired by Anthony Jackson as well as John Patitucci) serves him well on hopping groovers like "A Lasting Moment," which seems to be led by an actual acoustic guitar. More typical of the album as a whole, however, are punchy smoking guns like "Marvin's Mood" and the all-out blues-funk jam "Exit to the Street," which explodes thanks to Ben Schacter's free-for-all alto blowing. Veasley tends to alter the mood depending on who his musical soulmates are from track to track. When it's Washington, it's all furious quiet storm, but when Ferrante hits those ivories, Veasley plays a little with time signatures and shows off his jazzy side. Believing that "if you do a cover song, be unique, " Veasley and Ferrante explore the festive possibilities on the usually haunting Michel Legrand classic, "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?"


Born: July 28, 1955 in Philadelphia, PA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Gerald Veasley is an excellent bassist who has played his share of commercial music but definitely has the chops needed for more improvisatory settings. Veasley was exposed to gospel and R&B as a child and went on to play in various R&B bands in West Philly as a teenager in the late '60s and 1970s. Along the way, he discovered jazz and came to appreciate Weather Report and Return to Forever as much as he appreciated Earth, Wind & Fire and Smokey Robinson. Veasley...
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Signs, Gerald Veasley
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