Music Review: Genre-defying bass duets Edgar Meyer and Christian McBride swing, rumble    

Preparation is key. Your stereo will get a good workout listening to this CD. Highly skilled individuals On their debut collaborative album, "But Who's Gonna Play the Melody?", Christian McBride and Edgar Meyer showcase their double bass duets.

Each instrumental CD by McBride and Meyer has a different lead singer; the songs range from original compositions to covers. Even though they are only a two-man bass combo, McBride and Meyer push musical boundaries and experiment with a wide range of styles.

They are a real team that can turn bad situations into good ones. Jazz and R&B are two of McBride's musical strengths. From bluegrass to classical, Meyer's résumé covers it all. Vanderbilt University, where the album was recorded, also counts him as an adjunct associate professor of bass.

They demonstrate the expressive potential of their 20-pound instruments through plucking, bowing, and drawing from a wide range of musical styles. With high-quality speakers, listening to Meyer and McBride is an immersive experience; the acoustic waves they produce could shake a nightclub to its very core.

Though booming isn't the only thing this album covers. Even at modest volume levels, Meyer and McBride's music is captivating. There are snorts, cracks, buzzes, and growls from the basses. They move to the same beat, talk to each other, and experiment with divergent syncopation as solos sing, swing, and careen.

Even the usually sad "Days of Wine and Roses" has an unusually bouncy tempo, adding to the generally upbeat tone. The other songs benefit more from the duo's style. While "Canon" fuses elements of the 17th and 21st centuries, "Bebop, of Course" becomes jazzy. The rhythmic "FRB 2DB" would thrill James Brown, while the upbeat "Philly Slop" is a call to dance.

In one energetic verse of "Green Slime," a pair of semi-tractor-trailers seem to be courting. At the conclusion of the song, McBride says, "Yeah, baby," and he has every reason to be pleased.

Lyrical piano-bass duets are performed by both McBride and Meyer. One such duet is a captivating cover of "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," where the melody is played an octave lower than normal. "Tennessee Blues" by Bill Monroe is the finest. When Meyer and McBride witnessed with an intensity that could bring down trees, they transform it into a fiddle tune. Put simply, they bow out.

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