The Majesty of the Bass
duets with the leader. By the 1950s, bass players were expected to be able to solo on any tune, and the more adventuresome among them, such as Oscar Pettiford and Charles Mingus, ran their own groups. Still, at clubs and concerts, audiences expected that a bass would be accompanied by a piano, at least.
This changed in the 1960s, when groups of young musicians began to challenge the tenets of jazz tradition, including all those involving harmony, melody, and rhythm, and the very use of instruments in performance. Roscoe Mitchell, Anthony Braxton, Steve Lacy, and others began to give solo performances on saxophones and other instruments, and in 1968 a marvelous American-French musician, Barre Phillips, recorded the first solo bass album, Journal Violone.
Phillips demonstrated that it was possible, with developed technique, wit, and imagination, to sustain interest in solo bass playing. Since then a small number of bassists have followed suit, performing or recording without any accompaniment.