As Mr. Malone states in his introduction, "the purpose of
this book is to introduce you to a wide variety of
musical styles and the role of the bass." Thirty-four
different styles grouped into nine larger genres like
Rock, Jazz, Funk, and Afro-Caribbean are explored from
the bassist's point-of-view.
Before I begin to describe some of the shortcomings of
this book/CD, I'd like to praise it for what it does
right. The musical examples and the notation are
excellent. Every style with the exception of the R&B
Shuffle is accurately represented with its signature
sound, chord progressions when applicable, and sometimes
even clichés. The notation is uncluttered and
includes chord voicings and tempo. The performances on
the CD are absolutely stellar with drum meister Sean
Reinert (who played with Mr. Malone in Cynic and other
projects) and other guests.
There are some things, however that could have been
better. The descriptions of each style are loose and very
broad introductions, and that's all. Mr. Malone lists for
every style five representative bass players, when
perhaps for some styles ten or fifteen names would have
been better. There are no listings of typical or
representative songs or albums in the style, which is
unfortunate for those using the book without a teacher
familiar in the styles to make "for further listening"
recommendations. Sure, someone could search for
recordings based on a player's name, but the point of a
reference work is to help remove some of that effort from
the reader. For most of the descriptions only a half page
is dedicated, perhaps two to five pages would begin to
provide the level of depth necessary to really understand
The description of the styles generally have only a
sentence or two about the historical context of the
style, and a paragraph or two about the harmonic content.
Naturally, some styles require more treatment than
others, but the consistent sparseness of the descriptions
As to the styles represented, the book covers a broad
swath of modern music, and while it wouldn't be possible
to cover every sub-genre of all types of music, the book
performs admirably in this regard. My only complaint is
that the R&B Shuffle has no shuffle parts for the
bass player since the bass line, as written, is almost
entirely quarter-notes. Shuffle happens on the second
note of an eighth-note pair, and this example does
nothing to help the reader to learn to shuffle. Even the
Jazz section does little to cover the topic of swing,
which is a huge part of the Jazz repertoire. Swing
notation is, however, used in the Reggae style example,
but there's no mention of how to play swing or shuffle.
Even though the book is intended to be from the bassist's
point-of-view, descriptions of the styles and their
harmonic content as representative from the other
players' point of view would also be useful. Bass
players, more than anyone else in the band, have to know
what the entire band is doing, and this bit of wisdom
escapes the book.
Performance notes on each of the pieces would have been
also helpful. Something along the lines of "Be careful at
measure 10, the time change is tricky..." would go a long
way, especially for students not familiar with some of
the more esoteric styles.
Back to the CD. As good as the CD is, its major
shortcoming is that there's no count-in at the beginning
of each track. The reader hits play and hears a song,
there's no way to begin playing immediately; the reader
will always start a measure or two behind.
In short, the book is a welcome addition to the library
of bass instruction books. It performs its stated purpose
well, but there are some small things missing that are
absolutely necessary (like the track count-in), and
larger things missing that would have made the book more
definitive, rather than just introductory.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Bottom Line: Great Idea. Could