Lonnie Plaxico Group
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Lonnie Plaxico Group

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The best kept secret in music


"Live at the jazz Standard"

Live at the Jazz Standard
The Lonnie Plaxico Group | 441 Records
By C. Michael Bailey
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Bassist Lonnie Plaxico is perhaps best known for his associations with Greg Osby and M-Base, and for being the long-time bassist for Cassandra Wilson. He was the leader of several recordings made for the now static Muse label in the 1980s and90s. On January 29, 2003, Plaxico was leading an energetically funky sextet at New York Cits Jazz Standard. The pieces populating this live disc are closer to Plaxics Art Blakey experience than to his M-Base involvement. That is to say that this is superb contemporary hard bop. The spirit and association of Bu is big, very big. Plaxics group mimics the greatest of Blakey Band setups with a trumpet/tenor front on a standard piano trio platform (with added percussion).

Festivities are kicked off appropriately with a blue-flame “Sidewinder.” Trumpeter Alexander Norris pays proper homage to composer Lee Morgan without descending into mere imitation. But it is Strickland who solos first, more Hank Mobley than Wayne Shorter. Then Norris surfaces with a suitablee funky solo. For the more standard-minded, if “Sidewinder” did not whet your appetite, there is the most original “Summertime” since Gene Harri version with Ray Brown on Bam, Bam, Bam. Here, the chestnut begins as a unison ensemble piece resembling a big band. Then, the mood and personality changes to a nuclear funk counterpoint bouncing off of a contemporary filter. “You dot Know What Love Is” features a plaintive Norris trumpet recalling Chet Baker.

Plaxics own compositions are provocative and thematic. “A Shorter Take” is a wink at Way Shorter, written in his beautifully abstract style. “Along Came Benny” nods to Benny Golson and his “Along Came Betty.” All are smartly composed and played, making this a completely enjoyable recording.

Visit 441 Records and Lonnie Plaxico .

- C.Michael Bailey

"Live at the jazz Standard"

The M-BASE Collective, when it first emerged in the80s, championed a style that was about rhythmic unpredictability that was nevertheless mathematical in its precision, and a new way of looking at harmony that differentiated it from the post bop language of the young lions of the time. Bassist Lonnie Plaxico has the advantage of having worked seriously in both camps, and with his latest live release, Live at Jazz Standard he continues to straddle the line, although he clearly tends to lean towards the M-BASE side. The result is a mixed programme; while the talents of the members of Plaxics group are never in question, the overall set is something of a barrage on the senses; exciting to be sure, but tiring after repeated listens.

It would have been captivating to have been in the audience on January 29, 2003, when this recording was made at New Yors Jazz Standard club. Plaxico, who alternates between acoustic and electric bass, and drummer Lionel Cordew presents a rhythm section that is complex and energetic. But that is, perhaps, the problem with the grous approach. The rhythm section is so frenetic at times that while there is a certain gut-level excitement in hearing them navigate such difficult passages with ease, one is sometimes more impressed by how well they play, and less than taken at what they play.

Thankfully there are moments of respite. Following the set openers, an M-BASE meets Lee Morgan version ofThe Sidewinde and PlaxicsJumping Jacks Plaxico takes it down about fifty notches for a straightforward reading of the Cahn/Chaplin standardDedicated to You And while there is a funky vamp section in the grous radically reharmonized version ofSummertime it is more relaxed, giving the listener a chance to catch breath. You Dot Know What Love I is also given a faithful rendition.

The rest of the set runs at an energetic pace. PlaxicsA Shorter Tak is a clever homage, inspired by Shortes sadly overlooked album Atlantis. Along Came Benn references Benny GolsosAlong came Betty Cachas Danc manages to blend Cuban rhythms with the more logical exactness of Plaxics and Cordes approach whileSenor Silve pays tribute the Horace Silver in a frantic funk that, frankly, owes little to its source.

The players are exceptional; saxophonist Marcus Strickland, at twenty-four, demonstrates a maturity beyond his years, as does trumpeter Alexander Norris; pianist Marin Bejerano manages to navigate the complicated changes with confidence; Cordew is, quite simply, a powerhouse of polyrhythms; only Kahil Kwame Bell is superfluouthe proceedings are busy enough without the added percussion.

But as high quality as the performances are, once one gets past the immediate excitement, one is left feeling strangely empty. Live at Jazz Standard shows that great playing is not enough; there has to be a connection to give a recording lasting value and, sadly, there is little to connect with on this date.

Visit Lonnie Plaxico and 441 Records on the web.

- John Kelman

"Ronnie Scott's, London"

Lonnie Plaxico

Ronnie Scott's, London

John Fordham
Wednesday October 1, 2003
The Guardian

In jazz, the difference between a record and a gig can baffle tourists from the pop world. The contrast is particularly plain in the case of the brilliant US bassist and bandleader Lonnie Plaxico, playing in London this week.

Plaxico has just released a new album, Rhythm & Soul, and it is the kind of fusion set that gives this sometimes predictable and opportunistic idiom a good name. It features a sensational band, and the repertoire is remarkably wide-ranging - suggesting one of Miles Davis's later funk outfits, or even a more traditional ensemble playing standards. But in this week's live show, the emphasis is on fast, high-energy music, frantic with percussion and buried under blizzards of notes. It's impressive, in a unicycling-through-gunfire kind of way - but it isn't half of what Lonnie Plaxico has in his head. Jazz
Lonnie Plaxico

Ronnie Scott's, London

John Fordham
Wednesday October 1, 2003
The Guardian

In jazz, the difference between a record and a gig can baffle tourists from the pop world. The contrast is particularly plain in the case of the brilliant US bassist and bandleader Lonnie Plaxico, playing in London this week.

Plaxico has just released a new album, Rhythm & Soul, and it is the kind of fusion set that gives this sometimes predictable and opportunistic idiom a good name. It features a sensational band, and the repertoire is remarkably wide-ranging - suggesting one of Miles Davis's later funk outfits, or even a more traditional ensemble playing standards. But in this week's live show, the emphasis is on fast, high-energy music, frantic with percussion and buried under blizzards of notes. It's impressive, in a unicycling-through-gunfire kind of way - but it isn't half of what Lonnie Plaxico has in his head.
Plaxico is joined by tenor-saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, trumpet player Alex Norris, pianist Helen Sung and drummer Kenny Grohowski. The music hangs on blisteringly quick postbop trumpet/sax ensembles that give way to full-on jamming from all the performers, against the barrage of snare rolls, galloping bass-drum patterns and cymbal fireworks from Grohowski.

Coltrane's dry tone and thoughtful construction are often overwhelmed. Norris, however, fires shards of white-hot sound through it, demonstrating elegant control of long, high tones. Plaxico's acoustic basslines roar with urgency. And there is considerable improvising strength in the succinct and free-flowing work of Helen Sung: earthily swinging on organ, and with much of McCoy Tyner's mix of percussive chording and tumbling, linear playing on piano.

Delusions represents the band at its most manic. Always Crazy, a track from the album, does more to balance busy urgency, thoughtful improvising (from Coltrane and Norris) and an engaging funk groove. Although the predominantly hard, bright sound of the band broadens into richer ensemble harmonies later in the set, it is a more one-dimensional experience than Plaxico's famous sensitivity to group dynamics in other people's bands might have implied.

- John Fordham -The Guardian Wednesday October 1, 2003 The Guardian John Fordham Wednesday Octobe

"Jazz Canadiana -Picks"

Lonnie Plaxico - "Melange"

Although he was associated with the M-Base musicians, bassist Lonnie Plaxico has earned an impressive reputation throughout his career. His resume includes tenure with some of the greatest players in jazz, such as Dexter Gordon, Art Blakey and Wynton Marsalis. The word "Melange" means a mixture, and that's exactly what this CD is all about. A very versatile and clever musician, Lonnie has taken many moods and flavours and forged them into a musical tapestry. He utilizes various influences and styles to accomplish his means. There is funk, a bit of hip-hop, and for the most part, a great deal of fusion. As a composer, Lonnie's talent is very much in evidence, having written all eleven selections.

"Pamela", which happens to be the centre-piece of the recording has almost everything. There are Brazilian rhythms, intricate time changes, lucid trumpet playing by Tim Ries and the masterful piano playing of Helen Sung. Other tune titles are "Squib Cakes", "Darkness", "Beloved" and the title track "Melange". There is an aura of mystic about this CD that grows on you with every listening. This is Lonnie's fiftieth offering as a leader, the music is refreshing, energetic and sometimes difficult, but its masterful execution is a credit to all concerned. CS

Blue Note 7243 32356-2-9
- Jazz Canadiana

"CD Reviews: Lonnie Plaxico - Rhythm and Soul (Sirocco Records) "

CD Reviews: Lonnie Plaxico - Rhythm and Soul (Sirocco Records)
Posted by: Adminon Wednesday, December 17, 2003 - 09:51 AM
By John Kelman

Bassist Lonnie Plaxico hasn’t had it easy establishing himself as a leader. While he has worked with a cross-section of jazz artists including Chet Baker, Dexter Gordon, Wynton Marsalis and Diane Reeves, it has been during longer stints with Jack DeJohnette’s Special Edition, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and, in particular, as Cassandra Wilson’s musical director that he has established himself as an artist of note. While his seven previous recordings as a leader have all been worthy of attention, it is with his latest release, Rhythm and Soul that he finally delivers on his promise as a leader. Clever, contemporary writing with many twists and turns, a strong team of players and beautiful production, make Rhythm and Soul his strongest outing to date.
Plaxico has, this time around, managed to assimilate his diverse influences, from post-bop to M-BASE to fusion into a singular sound. Billy Kilson, known mainly for his work with Dave Holland over the past seven years, is one of but a handful of drummers who can play it all, from the greasy irregular-metered funk of the title track, to the tender reading of “Don’t Explain” to the fusion-meets-M-BASE of “The Time”. George Colligan, on piano, organ and synthesizer, shows why he is one of the serious up-and-comers on the New York scene today. Last heard with Plaxico on Lonnie Plaxico Live at the 5:01 Jazz Bar, Colligan is a capable soloist and completely sympathetic accompanist. Co-producer and percussionist Jeffrey Haynes adds just the right amount of colour; never obtrusive, working well with Kilson while driving the rhythm on his own on the programme-closer, the gospel piece “’Tis So Sweet”, which features guests Aneilia Lomax and Arene Lomax on vocal and piano respectively.

With horn players including Jeremy Pelt and Alex Sipiagin on trumpet, tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, and tenor/soprano saxophonist Marcus Strickland, Plaxico’s seven original pieces are a far cry from the traditional head-solo-head tradition for jazz improvisation. Instead, the compositions are extended forms; he has an uncanny knack for placing the beat in unusual places, making straight-time feel like irregular meter, as in the homage piece, “Weather Report”.

Known primarily as a double-bassist, Plaxico also gets the chance to pull out the stops and prove his mettle on electric; his solo on “The Time” is as impressive as anything Victor Wooten has recorded; and his solo reading of Mal Waldron’s “Soul Eye’s” demonstrates, in just over three minutes, his command of a variety of traditions.

Rhythm and Soul is Plaxico’s first recording for UK-based Sirocco Records, a label that has, over the past five years or so, emerged as a fresh new voice in contemporary jazz with a small, young, but significant roster of artists. One of the fundamental focuses of the label is to allow its artists full freedom to pursue their muse, and by doing so with Plaxico, they have given him the opportunity to create his best effort yet.

For more information, visit www.lonnieplaxico.com

Reviewed by John Kelman
- John Kelman


Artist: Plaxico, Lonnie Title of CD: Rhythm and Soul Record Label: Sirocco Jazz

Lonnie Plaxico is a tremendous bassist and session man. His eighth album as a leader spotlights his brilliance in several areas, from gently, yet substantially backing vocalists to working both alone and with large combos. Plaxico uses Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes" as a set piece to demonstrate his impressive solo bass facility, delivering a stunning melodic embellishment, then a dazzling improvisation working off it. On "'Tis So Sweet," a traditional gospel tune, he smoothly glides underneath vocalist Aneilia Lomax and pianist Arene Lomax, punctuating and extending their leads while turning the song into a majestic concluding work.

The disc's small-group pieces tend to be either intimate ballads, such as the poignant cover ......
- Ron Wynn Feb 01'04


THE NEW YORK TIMES, JAZZ REVIEW January 12, 2000 By: Ben Ratliff

The bassist Lonnie Plaxico writes cerebral, piano-like music made of fissured melodic lines laid unevenly across time grids. It's marked with the tartness and hardness of Brooklyn jazz from the 1980's, with funk as a basic ingredient if not always a defining one; he was a member of that young school, as were Steve Coleman and Greg Osby. But then there were other flavors as well in his group's early set at Sweet Basil on Friday night. His set list - much of it drawn from a new album on High Note records, recorded with a different cast of musicians - flicked through different styles of black popular music, juxtaposing brain-tickling, attenuated ideas with others that were slick and gut-punching. This was a gig at which the audience cheered once when a musician played something trickily interior and again minutes later when a pumping gospel strain started up. The rhythm section was the pivot in these changes: Mr. Plaxico plays stubby notes that lend themselves easily to funk, and the drummer Lionel Cordew and the pianist George Colligan both hit heavily. Jeffrey Haynes, on congas and occasionally playing Indian tablas, added extra layers to reinforce whatever the music's identity happened to be. Teodross Avery, on tenor Sax, played the vocabulary of rhythm-and-blues. Mr. Colligan was the widest-ranging musician of the night, going deep into McCoy Tyner's rhythmic and harmonic language as well as playing organ and a bit of dreadful, anachronistic synthesizer. The music had energy, but sometimes too many notes were flung around. A counter-weight to that tendency was the trumpeter Lew Soloff, who burned through the clutter: his tone was fat and strong, and in several solos he kept returning to extravagantly long notes, which drove the tension up as the band grooved around him.

- Ben Ratliff

"AZZ TIMES CD Review June 2000"

JAZZ TIMES CD Review June 2000 By: John Murph

The title of bassist Lonnie Plaxico's newest and fifth album, Emergence, is a bit misleading considering his noteworthy playing with legends like Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon and Dizzy Gillespie; his immeasurable contributions to the early developments of M-BASE; and, more recently, his appointment as musical director for Cassandra Wilson's touring band. But after first listen, you quickly realize that Emergence is a most fitting title, because it exhibits a bold con-fidence and unflinching vitality that was lacking on his previous albums.
"Well, with those other records, I was thinking a lot about airplay," explains Plaxico. "I was thinking about pleasing the record companies, because they think a lot about airplay. But I noticed that I was still not making money, and I was never really satisfied with those records. So I decided to do what I'm really feeling and just go for it." And it's apparent that Plaxico's musical impulses are very in sync with a lot of other musicians in the post-Motown bop generation. Although the record demonstrates his assuredness with bebop, it also superbly culminates his R&B, funk and jazz-fusion sensibilities in a way that doesn't pan-der to any particular school of thought. In short, Emergence is a very now record. "From playing with Blakey, Dexter and Dizzy, and just listening to those records, I know that I can't mess with that," contends Plaxico. "Even if you sit down and transcribe all those parts and solos [to play], it still ain't going to sound like it was in 1958. Much of Emergence illustrates Plaxico's burgeoning talents as a composer who's wise enough not to disregard the music of his own generation. For ex-ample, Plaxico's wonderfully funky "Red Light District," which is based on the changes of Cole Porter's "Love for Sale," owes as much to hip hop's manner of reassembling old material as it does to jazz's legacy of writing compelling new tunes out of old show tunes. "I'm taking advantage of all the things that I've experienced as a musician, and hopefully that's going to make the difference between me and other musicians." - John Murph

"Lonnie Plaxico: Live at Jazz Standard (Eighty-Eight's)"

Lonnie Plaxico: Live at Jazz Standard (Eighty-Eight's) When I first put this on, I had to check--wasn't Lonnie Plaxico the bass player on Tony William's great late-eighties quartet (Mutants on the Beach!)? He wasn't, but this group owes a lot to that sound, with its churning, propulsive drive, and it's no insult to say that Plaxico manages to do it with only two drummers (I saw Williams' group live, and Tony Williams was in fact 2.7 drummers). But there's another influence going on here--dare I say it--of course I dare, it's Frank Zappa in his Joe's Garage phase, with the twisty, impossibly complex rhythmic patterns that he could only make work in the studio. If you can tolerate the lyrics, check out the instrumental section of Keep it Greasy on Joe's Garage, Volume 2, then listen to Senór Silver on this CD. Hear it? C'mon, you gotta hear it, let's listen again. Marcus Strickland is the only player on here I recognize, and he manages to solo on top of all this weirdness, but it's tough to keep up. However, it's fun enough just listening to the band crank through the changes.
- Capsule Reviews of Jazz Recordings

"Artist: Plaxico, Lonnie Title of CD: Melange Record Label: Blue Note"

Bassist Lonnie Plaxico has seldom emerged from the rhythm section as a leader during a distinguished two-decades plus career. Although he has made five other albums, he's far better known for his outstanding assistance and accompaniment to musicians ranging from Dizzy Gillespie and Dexter Gordon to Art Blakey, Sonny Stitt, Cassandra Wilson and Wynton Marsalis. Plaxico's Blue Note debut is designed to show audiences the bassist's diverse roots while also featuring him headlining disparate units. The song menu includes a cover of the Tower of Power instrumental "Squib Cakes," a gospel-styled piece, "Sunday Morning," and other tunes that tackle Afro-Latin, funk, mainstream and some that even venture outside. Plaxico heads one ensemble featuring trumpeter Lew Soloff and saxophonist Tim Ries, and another with Jeremy Pelt and Marcus Strickland handling brass and reeds. George Colligan and Helen Sung divide keyboard ...
- JazzTimes Ron Wynn


1. Lonnie Plaxico Emergence - Savant Records
2. Lonnie Plaxico Melange - Blue Note Records
3. Lonnie Plaxico Group live at the 5:01 Jazz bar - Plaxmusic
4. Lonnie Plaxico Rhythm & Soul - Sirroco
5. Lonnie Plaxico group live at the Jazz Standard - 441 Records
6. Lonnie Plaxico Group So Alive - Village Records, Japan
7. Lonnie Plaxico - West Side Stories - Released Apirl 2006 with Special Guests Cassandra Wilson, Carla Cook, Steve Coleman, Ravi Coltrane, and Gary Thomas


Feeling a bit camera shy


Bassist, Composer, and Producer
Music is a mixture of Jazz, R&B, and Funk
PODCAST: http://www.avatarstudios.net/podcast/index.html

Lonnie Plaxico is one of the greatest bassist, composer, and producer in the music industry!

Lonnie Plaxico, the middle child in a large family of outstanding musicians. He was born and raised in Chicago, where his inherited gift of music was discovered and nurtured. Lonnie Plaxico started playing music at an early age; by the age of twelve he had taught himself how to play the electric bass. At the age of fourteen he was performing along side several prominent Chicago Jazz figures. Plaxico’s first recording; featuring his family’s band took place when he was just sixteen years old. He ventured more into Chicago's music scene, renowned for its mix of jazz, funk and blues as he enhanced his musical skills. Lonnie Plaxico became professional, known for playing the electric and acoustic bass with equal facility.

Plaxico moved to New York in 1980 and soon began to appear with such artists as Chet Baker, Dexter Gordon, and Wynton Marsalis. His first extended tenure was with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers: between 1983 and 1986. Lonnie performed on twelve of Blakey's albums, including the Grammy Award-winning, New York Scene. In 1986 he joined Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition, continuing with that group until 1993. Presently, Plaxico is the musical director and featured bassist for singer, Cassandra Wilson. Their critically acclaimed and award-winning collaboration has now spanned fifteen years.

Lonnie Plaxico's recording and performance catalog is equally impressive for its caliber, depth and diversity. He has appeared with such luminaries as Sonny Sitt, Junior Cook, David Murray, Alice Coltrane, Stanley Turrentine, Joe Sample, Abbey Lincoln, and Dizzy Gillespie. Just as noteworthy are his performances with younger artists -- among them Steve Coleman, Rachelle Farrell, and Dianne Reeves. Lonnie Plaxico has also recorded with Bill Cosby, Lonnie Liston Smith, Ravi Coltrane, and Barbara Dennerlein, as well as his Grammy-winning collaborations with Art Blakey and Cassandra Wilson. He has also recorded five critically acclaimed albums as leader.

Plaxico (1990), Iridescence (1992), Short Takes (1993), With All Your Heart (1994), Emergence (2000), Melange (2001), Lonnie Plaxico Group Live at the 5:01 Jazz bar (2002), Rhythm and Soul (2003), Lonnie Plaxico Group Live at the Jazz Standard (2004), Lonnie Plaxico Group So Alive (2004) Japan-only, and NEW RELEASE (2006) Lonnie Plaxico Group -West Side Stories

Lonnie Plaxico's musicianship is best expressed in his masterful integration of different forms, combining the rigorous technique of classical, the improvisation of jazz, and the rawness of funk into one exhilarating musical experience.

Geri Allen, Art Blakey, Tom Brown & Jimmy Owens, The Chilites, Steve Coleman, Alice Coltrane, Ravi Coltrane, Junior Cook, Jack DeJohnette, Bobby Enrica, Rachelle Farrell, Sonny Fortune, Chico & Von Freeman, Dexter Gordon, Slide Hampton & The World of Trombones, Barry Harris, Antonio Hart, John Hicks, Jay Hogart, Thelma Houston, Hank Jones, Rodney Jones, Cyndi Lauper, Kirk Lightsey, Carmen Lundey, Junior Mance, Chuck Mangione, Branford Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Keiko Matsui, Ronnie Matthews, Mulgrew Miller, David Murray, David "Fat Head" Newman, Greg Osby, Dianne Reeves, Joe Sample & the Jazz Crusaders, Bud Shank, Woody Shaw, Melvin Sparks, Dakota Staton, Sonny Stitt, Clark Terry, Harold Vick, Jack Walrath, Cassandra Wilson, Allen Youngblood

School Daze (1988 - Director: Spike Lee)
Love Jones (1996 - Director: Theodore Witcher)
The Score (2002) Robert Deniro

Videos & DVD's:
Cassandra Wilson & George Benson - Montreaux Jazz Festival (1998)
Art Blakey Documentary (1986)
Branford Marsalis- Royal Garden Blues (1987)
Three Bassists Documentary - featuring Cecil McBee, Satee Debriano and Lonnie Plaxico (1988)
Rozalla - I love music (1993)
The Score" Robert Deniro(2002)

Television - David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, Charlie Rose, The Today Show, The Morning Show, Joan Rivers Show
Movies - Junior (1994 - Directed by Ivan Reitman, starring Arnold Schwartzenegger), Major Jazz Clubs & Festivals (US & Abroad)
Various Benefit Performances

Louis Armstrong Jazz Award (1978)
Charles Mingus & Fred Zimmermann Bass Competition (1980): Third Place Award and Most Promising Young Bassist Award
Listings - Grove's Dictionary of Music, The Encyclopedia of Popular Music

Ibanez (Electric Bass), Labella (Strings), Patterson Basses (Electric Bass), Fodera (Electric Bass), Applied Microphone Technology (microphone) SWR amps and speakers