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Stefano Scodanibbio

When you hear the words "bass solo," what comes to mind? Unless you're a fishing fanatic, your mind's ear will probably conjure up some smooth jazz or even some hot funk. Well, put those ideas aside, because Italian contrabass player Stephano Scodanibbio coaxes sounds from his instrument that go way beyond the phat and the funky.

Scodanibbio is renowned for both his compositions and his performances. He has written over 30 original pieces, and composers such as Bussotti, Donatoni, Estrada, and Xenakis have written works for him. He tours extensively with Terry Riley and is equally at home with classical and improvised music. John Cage once said, "I haven't heard better double bass playing than Scodanibbio's... He really is extraordinary."

Scodanibbio recorded Voyage that Never Ends direct to two track on November 18 and 19, 1997. The album contains a suite of four compositions that Scodanibbio has been performing since 1979. The pieces have a propulsive rhythm that keeps things flowing, and Scodanibbio's varied techniques make each section sound unique and interesting. The first section, Voyage Started, is the longest (21 minutes and 41 seconds), and Scodanibbio covers a great deal of technical territory, bowing, plucking, and tapping on his contrabass to elicit an increasingly complex and compelling series of sounds. Voyage Interrupted, the second section, is characterized by delicate, intricate plucked bass, which sounds like a harp or a music box. In section three, Voyage Continued, Scodanibbio uses expansive bowing techniques which recall Sarah Hopkins's "Cello Chi," from the Austral Voices compilation. "Voyage Resumed", featured here, is the last and shortest section. It opens with urgent bowing, which sweeps and soars, building intensity until the piece explodes with trilling plucks. It is dynamic, unsettling, and unlike any bass playing you have ever heard before.

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