Thundercat dishes out a souped-up, jazz-charged rendition of Dragonball Durag on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

(Image credit: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert)

Thundercat has already made a series of live appearances this year – including a guest spot alongside Haim – that have helped him cement his reputation as one of today’s most formidable and versatile bass guitar virtuosos. 

But, just in case you needed a timely reminder of the versatile player’s prowess, feast your eyes – and ears – on the video below, which sees Thundercat join forces with Jon Batiste for a spellbinding rendition of Dragonball Durag on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Thanks to the piano contributions from Batiste – musical director of Colbert’s house band, Stay Human – the track is suitably varied from its studio-recorded counterpart, which can be found on Thundercat’s 2020 album It Is What It Is.

What remains consistent, though, is the hypnotic, modulation-tinged noodlings of Thundercat, who wields his signature Ibanez TCB1006 six-string bass model to provide the hypnotic low-end of the track’s preliminary passages. 

After a chromatic-laden solo from Batiste, the LA bass wizard takes his turn in the limelight, flexing his tone-shaping pedalboard and lightning-fast right-hand fingerpicking technique that support his 100-miles-per-hour fretboard exploration.

And, since the occasion calls for it, Thundercat and co close out the track with some off-the-cuff improvisation, with each musician throwing their impromptu licks and phrases into a fusion-esque sonic melting pot.

Speaking to Bass Player earlier this year, Thundercat – aka Stephen Lee Bruner – discussed his relationship with the bass, saying he sees it as less of an instrument and more of a philosophy. 

“It can take up really interesting roles,” he mused. “It can be overbearing based on a person’s characteristic, but at the same time it’s delicate enough to where you can have a person exist like a Jaco Pastorius.

“I’m able to find a voice with the instrument that allows me to blend in and also stand out,” he continued while addressing his approach to playing. “It’s about communication for me, trying to understand and comprehend what someone needs, as compared to immediately trying to give them a lot.”

It Is What It Is – Thundercat's fourth studio album – was released last year, and follows The Golden Age of Apocalypse (2011), Apocalypse (2013) and Drunk (2017).

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.