Bassist Reggie Young’s new album gives swagger its own soundtrack

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Grammy-winning bassist, Reggie Young, blows away audiences with his verve and swagger found on his new album, “Young Street.” Employing elements of funk, r&b and rock ‘n’ roll, the album gives off a confident vibe that sets the soundtrack for contemporary urban sensibilities.

About Reggie Young

Under normal circumstances, I would be surprised to read the list of accomplishments that follow Reggie Young. But after hearing the new album, “Young Street,” I’m not.

Young’s bass playing began in the humble confines of a small church in Hempstead, Long Island. He was 12 years old when he started to play, and shortly thereafter, Young developed a reputation for being a stellar player. Early in his professional tenure, Young had played on dozens of Gospel albums.

The rest of the music industry had taken notice of the bassist, as well. In 2010, Fodera (a leader in custom bass guitars) approached him about their plans to create the Reggie Young signature bass. Young accepted. It was an offer extended only to a handful of musicians.

The following year, Young was chosen (by unanimous vote, according to a press release) to be the house bassist for the Apollo Theater in New York City.

As if the preceding weren’t enough, in 2017, The New School NYC’s music college, asked Young to be the lead in their “The New Professor” marketing campaign. He accepted, and now the results of that public relations endeavor can be seen online and elsewhere.

“Young Street”

Young’s CD cover looks more like a glossy ad for fashionable clothing, than a jazz CD. While it isn’t always pertinent to discuss the cover of albums, or the looks of performers, with Young, it seems right to do so. There is an attitude of “cool,” a swagger, that is unmistakable. This aura extends beyond photographs. The album overall is a mind-blowing blend of the genres that Young became familiar with as an adolescent.

Sometimes, an ensemble is slightly unbalanced by the showcasing of the leader’s instrument. That isn’t the case here. Guitars, keyboards and horns play vividly and energetically throughout the album.

“Young Street”– the single

What is probably most striking here is how full the sound is on this album. This is the first song, and from the first note, listeners are enticed to groove along. This is danceable, r&b-infused jazz. As Young has explained of his work on this album, “It ain’t smooth jazz.”

And it isn’t. And, as listeners will find, that’s okay. Each section of the instrumentation sounds imbued with movement, and the bass-heavy groove, blasted forward by horns (there are two trumpet players), is irresistible. The only problem with placing a song like “Young Street” first, is that it sets the bar very high for subsequent tracks.

“Riding Low”

This song is No. 5 on the CD, and in between there were forays into Latin rhythms, continued r&b and funk motifs, but here, the guitar and horns come to life in different ways than on other tracks. The guitar sounds as though it has taken a page from blues-based hard rock, and some of its phrasing is completed, or taken over by the low-pitched, grooving horn.

Not enough can be said about the guitar work. Those who are familiar, might liken the approach to “Mr. Scary” by Dokken, but with an injection of a hard r&b groove. This was one of the more mind-blowing tracks, one that I was happy to put on repeat.

Young comes to the public consciousness with a history of awards and accolades. When listeners hear this album, it will be clear why Young has so successfully made the transition from session player to band leader. The bar has been raised impossibly high. Audiences will be pleased if Young can at least meet that standard on albums to come.

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