Gerald Veasley

Soul Control

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Cutting his sideman teeth with legends like Grover Washington, Jr. and Joe Zawinul, Gerald Veasley has established himself as one of contemporary jazz's most dynamic young bassists. When he launched his solo career with 1992's Look Ahead, he seemed poised to bring his chosen axe to the forefront of a genre that has traditionally relied too heavily on horns and guitars. His bright soloing style suggested that he might even achieve the same sort of impact on a new generation of listeners as his idols Stanley Clarke and Jaco Pastorius had on an earlier one. Thus far, however, Veasley has chosen to forgo the kind of monster licks those two were famous for, and settle for an easygoing smooth jazz feel long on grooves and nice melodies but short on any real statement as a leader. His third project, Soul Control (Heads Up) is a slick, sharply produced affair, but he once again chooses not to make a stand and cuts loose only sparingly, most notably on the closing track, the down-home Southern rock and blues jam "Earthworm," featuring violinist John Blake. Over the long haul, the mark of any truly great contempo artist is an identifiable, singular sound that functions as a calling card of sorts. More often than not, that involves clueing listeners in as to the artist's lead voice. Most of the time here, however, Veasley's intention is to weave his instrument into a well-oiled all-star ensemble, rather than bring his bass to the forefront.

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