As any musician who has walked out of a club at the end of the night trying to figure out how to split $5 six ways can tell you, making a living playing original music isn’t easy. Chris Sherman (a.k.a. Freekbass) and his band (a.k.a. Freekbass) have accomplished the rare feat of not only making it with original music but making it without the help of a record company.
Sherman has built an impressive career with Freekbass, touring the region constantly. He’s done so by crafting a “show” — not just a balls-out live performance but a band whose music is dynamic, diverse, mysterious and captivating. Sherman and Co’s new album, Junkyard Waltz, is the kind of album you can get lost in. With so much going on from track to track, you can listen to these songs repeatedly and still hear something new every time. Considering Sherman’s bread and butter is Funk music, an art form more ass-based and often not super-cerebral, the album’s depth is all the more impressive. Junkyard Waltz is the past, present and future of Funk all rolled into one.
Like his pioneering forefathers (such as his mentor/exec producer Bootsy Collins), Sherman has taken the basics of Funk and turned them inside out. Junkyard Waltz is a journey through Sherman’s fertile artistic mind, assisted by the creativity of his many collaborators. Phish bassman Mike Gordon does some four-string dueting with him on the slinky, leaning title track, while guitar hero Buckethead lends some slanted riffs to the fantastic Hip Hop-driven track “Big Bang Bionic” (with awesome vocal contributions from MCs B-Czar and Piakahn). This is officially the best album Buckethead has been a part of this year (sorry, Axl).
Sherman has become something of a “musician’s musician” thanks to his skilled bass work. Often featured in bass player magazines and even the star of his own line of instructional DVDs, he's a savior of bass — not just the instrument but the sound. With the rise of iPods and MP3s, compressed, pinched recordings prevail in the marketplace, often losing the highs and lows of the sonics to a monochromatic, leveled-off blur.
Junkyard Waltz is an “alive” record, exploding with a wide palette of colors, tones and textures. Though Freekbass is a band renowned for its live shows, the album proves that Sherman and his cohorts are truly visionary artists in the studio.
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