Saturday, January 14, 2012

All That Jazz: Big Butch Bass Bull Fiddle

Corb Lund: Big Butch Bass Bull Fiddle


While upright bass solos are common in jazz, they are fairly uncommon in country music (with the possible exceptions of bluegrass and tradition "old style" country). Corb Lund is a Canadian country musician, and while he does has a bit of a following in the US, he is quite popular in the mainstream Canadian country music scene. Lund's family is from southern Alberta where they are actively involved in ranching and rodeo. Many of Lund's songs reflect his unique heritage. However, before he started to compose country music, he moved north to Edmonton go to school to study jazz guitar and bass. He eventually joined a hard/alternative rock called The Smalls who were active in Western Canada, but in the mid 90s he started experimenting with the style of country music that he grew up on in ranching country.

The Corb Lund Band released their first album in 1995, and by the release of their four album in 2006 they were known as Corb Lund and the Hurtin' Albertans. On that 2006 album, Hair in My Eyes Like a Highland Steer, appears the song "Big Butch Bass Bull Fiddle." In the liner notes Lund states, "This one's for Kurt to show his stuff on. He's been going down the road, faithfully backing me up for a lo-o-ng time and I keep promising to make him rich." "Kurt" is Kurt Ciesla and his bio on Lund's web site states that he is "an extremely versatile musician, he is a former member of funk acts Blue Locutus and Bubba and is a familiar and respected musician in the Edmonton Jazz music scene."

The song itself describes trials of playing the upright bass. The sound of the song is reminiscent of 1940's swing jazz, with a lively piano in the background, and, of course, a prominent bass line and a bass solo, which is extended during a live show. I've seen Lund and his band play this song live several times and he always introduces this song as "an ode to Air Canada or WestJet," and you can imagine how fun it must be dealing with the airlines with an over-sized instrument. It's a pretty remarkable jazz song from a former rodeo kid who is now known for his country music.

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