David Dyson - Soulmates 


Bassman David Dyson has recorded with Walter Beasley and Pieces of a Dream, among others.  What you might not know is that in the early 90’s he toured extensively as musical director and bassist for New Kids on the Block, waiting for a chance to show his full range.


Listen to this, his first solo album, and you can hear certain influences at work.  "My parents took me to concerts all the time: Earth, Wind & Fire; Billy Preston; Rufus with Chaka Khan; Parliament with Bootsy on bass -- the list goes on and on.  What first geared me toward jazz was Herbie Hancock's “Headhunters”; I was nine years old when I heard it, and it knocked me out."


David was also heavily influenced by Louis Johnson and Stanley Clarke.

Like these players, he’s stretching the boundaries here and some of the CD is a challenge, but let me run it down for you track by track…


Badlands is a busy groove with the upfront sax of labelmate Marshall Keys all over it.  We already get the layers of bass and the funky accents you’d expect on this type of CD right from the first bars of the tune.


95 North opens with a more natural drum sound and busy bassline, overlaid with the kind of gauzy fretless sound you’d hear from Mark Egan.  The overall effect is quite dreamy until the sax solo and sound effects break it up.  The fade, like one or two on the CD, is a little sudden.


The ballad, Soulmates, has a very powerful multi-tracked bass melody.  Playing lyrically is the real strength of David Dyson.  You never forget this is a bass-player’s album!


If you’ve heard “Voices of Wisdom” on Pieces of a Dream’s “Pieces” album, this homage to heroes of funk and fusion will make you smile!  On Way Back When, we get a lazy keyboard-led groove which feels like a summer’s day.  Bootsy Collins gets a namecheck here and the Bootsy-type solo will give old P. Funk fans (like me) a warm glow – my favourite track on this album.


The exotic Interference features some more effects-laden soloing over a  mid-tempo beat.  I love this cut until the break, where the momentum is lost – it’s a pity it veers off the way it does.


The sound waves on a beach and more dreamy fretless open Secret Sands.  The electronic beat is slow but too staccato to do justice to the lovely lyrical playing.  A very old-fashioned synth solo sounds right at home here.  Drift away…


A more acid-jazz beat, with organ and the album’s only real vocal, courtesy of John Stoddart.  Spin Cycle would make a great single, if it hasn’t already.


The long keyboard intro to Time Will Heal should tell you that more fretless playing follows, it’s the same dreamy quality as Secret Sands.  This opens out into a gentle reggae-type groove, but really this could be Secret Sands part 2.


The tone hardens a lot on Vixen.  Marshall Keys’ horn sound has shades of Wayne Shorter and the overall sound is as adventurous as much of Weather Report’s music.  This track is for deep bass fans – and I mean deep in every sense!


On Aftermath, the handclapping rhythm track and those sinuous fretless lines just don’t work for me and I’d happily go to the next track.  A filler.


Lena’s Lullaby is a more purposeful track, and rather grand.  Melody is played on the bass, with an underlying vocal.  The line is sparse but studio techniques give it a huge acoustic and it sticks in your mind for that alone.  The synthetic drum sound lets it down a little – I’d love to hear this live!


Daring players, like Brian Bromberg, often include a solo bass improvisation in their set.  Lonely Daze is a fitting title for the closing piece here – one man, one bass, but a lot to say.


Bearing in mind the obvious influences on Dyson’s playing, I’ll be very keen to hear his next CD.  On a personal note, I’d love to hear him and Marcus Johnson collaborate on a P. Funk tribute album.  Just listen to track 4 a few times and imagine…



Marimelj Records 54423 – Executive Producers David Dyson and Marcus Johnson