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Some Love for Richard Bona

After the gig Saturday, I was playing the Jaco Pastorius Big Band: Word of Mouth Revisited CD for our bass player, Rick. (The CD, released in 2003, features a whole mess of world-class bass players covering Jaco Pastorius’ signature tunes.) When we got to “Punk Jazz” with Richard Bona, all of us in the car admired his singing tone and sensitive touch, more in touch with Jaco’s spirit than any of the other (uniformly awesome) bass players. Rick admitted he had never heard of him, and it made me wonder that if a bass player hadn’t heard of him, maybe he’s not as well-known as I thought.

A great introduction would be his appearance on NPR’s Jazz Set recently (the November 27, 2008 show documents Bona’s appearance at the Basel Jazz Festival).

I came to Richard Bona by accident while trawling YouTube for versions of my favorite Jaco tune, “Liberty City.” This version, with Bona as a leader of his own band, was recorded in 2003 at the Vitoria-Gasteiz Jazz Festival in Spain. A slower, clunkier version features Bona as guest soloist at the North Sea Jazz Festival. (The other bassist is Jeff Carswell.) For comparison, here’s the definitive original version with Jaco Pastorius and his Word of Mouth band.

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