Listening to “Bass & Beyond”, the first instrumental album by Guatemalan born bassist Leslie Johnson, one can certainly understand why he was chosen as a “Say It With Your Strings” winner.  Featuring an array of special guests such as: Nikki Glaspie (Beyonce, Dumpstaphunk), Alvaro Lopez (Resq Band), Eric Boseman (Brian Mcknight, Abe Laboriel), and many others, Bass & Beyond is a funk driven album showcasing Johnson’s excellent smooth groovin’, melodic style.

For the majority of the album, Johnson’s shows his prowess at laying down a retro, seventies-like finger funk groove, displaying great dexterity and fluidity.  Playing with both speed and precision, Johnson’s tone is slick and greasy, sure to please the most ardent funk affectionado.  For me, however, the truly standout track on this album is the soft, melodic “Nothing but Grace”.  Here Johnson changes things up dramatically, while still managing to fit within the context of the rest of the album.  “Nothing but Grace” is sheer emotion, with such feel and depth to it that you can’t help but be drawn in.  Many musician’s aspire to convey their passion through their instruments and Johnson clearly achieves that here.

Equally capable of laying down a fat groove as he is at creating rich melodic content, Johnson exemplary playing and great use of space make Bass & Beyond a great addition to any bass lover’s collection.


Stanton Lawrence([email protected])