Jasper Høiby: 5 perfect jazz basslines you should hear

Ivo Neame, Jasper Hoiby and Anton Eger of the band Phronesis perform at Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho as part of the Sounds of Denmark Festival on September 17, 2016 in London, England
(Image credit: Photo by Andy Sheppard/Redferns)

Very much part of Europe’s fine double bass lineage, alongside the likes of Eberhard Weber, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and Dave Holland, Danish bassist Jasper Høiby has forged an impeccable career as both a leader and sideman in jazz.

While he has worked with many leading jazz musicians including Mark Guiliana and Julian Arguelles, his latest trio, Jasper Høiby's Planet B, is part of a wider approach to improvisation, embracing electronic soundscapes and thought-provoking samples from activists like Ram Dass and Grace Lee Boggs.

"Planet B is a conversation about who we are as people today, how we exist in relation to each other, and where we want to go from here," says Jasper." At this point in time it's got to be about more than making music for music's sake." 

Following the release of, What It Means to Be Human, the second in a suite of four albums from Planet B, Jasper took time out to reveal the five basslines that have helped mould him into the bass player that he is today.

1. Eddie Gomez - You Must Believe In Spring (1977)

"I remember hearing Eddie Gómez with Bill Evans and being really impressed with the way that he made the double bass sing out in such a beautiful and lyrical way. His bassline on ‘You Must Believe In Spring’ was my first attempted transcription after having played the instrument for about six months. Naturally Eddie led me back in history, where I discovered Scott LaFaro, and then it all slowly started to make sense. In many ways this was my way into jazz in its acoustic form and a classic introduction to the trio format."

2. Jimmy Garrison - Crescent (1964)

"John Coltrane’s sound is like that of some majestic animal, and Jimmy Garrison’s bassline anchors the whole thing effortlessly. The depth to what he’s playing on this track is just astonishing. Hearing this made an impact and was the perfect reminder that you have to have something to say, and you have to be truthful when you say it. Nothing else matters, really. It’s amazing to listen to this band and hear how well they work together."

3. Miroslav Vitouš - Matrix (1968)

"I remember hearing this bassline the first time and just being blown away by the sound of Miroslav’s bass, and also the combined energy and playfulness of the trio was just stunning. I ended up transcribing lots of walking lines and solos from this Chick Corea album, Now He Sings, Now He Sobs, including the bass solo on ‘Matrix.’ Miroslav was only 21 on this recording, I believe. Absolutely incredible and arguably the best playing I’ve heard from him."

4. Jaco Pastorius - Donna Lee (1976)

"When I heard Jaco for the first time it was a truly mind-blowing experience. I just couldn’t believe how amazing his sound and groove was, not to mention his technical ability. Hearing him play ‘Donna Lee’ you get the impression that he wrote that tune himself! He throws it around different keys and blows on it with total freedom. I immediately checked out everything that I could get my hands on with Jaco on it. He truly changed the way the electric bass was perceived and his vision as a composer was very original."

5. Avishai Cohen - Bass Suite #1 (1998)

"I remember reading an interview with Avishai Cohen when I was about 21. He sounded so cool and self-assured that I thought, ‘Really? Is he that good?’ He said that he had only played the double bass for about seven years, but he could play anything he wanted!

"I bought his album Adama and it opened my ears to Middle Eastern sounds and rhythms, and Avishai’s bass playing didn’t disappoint. Check out the interplay of Avishai and Jeff Ballard, a school in modern rhythm section playing. And make sure you listen to 'Bass Suite #1' – it is amazing. His sound is his own and his compositions too."

To find out more about Jasper Høiby visit jasperhoiby.com (opens in new tab)

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Nick Wells was the Editor of Bass Guitar magazine from 2009 to 2011, before making strides into the world of Artist Relations with Sheldon Dingwall and Dingwall Guitars. He's also the producer of bass-centric documentaries, Walking the Changes and Beneath the Bassline, as well as Production Manager and Artist Liaison for ScottsBassLessons. In his free time, you'll find him jumping around his bedroom to Kool & The Gang while hammering the life out of his P-Bass.