Recently, I discovered the engaging music of bassist Uros Spasojevic. Spasojevic is in the early phases of a mission to popularize the music he loves in his hometown of Valjevo, Republic of Serbia. Once that is accomplished, he hopes the same can occur in other places. Unfortunately, he has two rather huge obstacles in his way. First, he plays bass guitar- usually not thought of as a lead instrument. Second, the music he loves is jazz and fusion. Though Serbia, which hosts several annual jazz festivals, and Eastern Europe, is generally more open to jazz than the West these days, it is still a tall mountain to climb for any musician to make a commercial dent with the genre. However, Spasojevic, who spent some years traveling through Europe to hone his trade, is so dedicated to his mission, he returned home to set up a base of operations.
The latest weapon in his arsenal is a remarkable new release, Story On Bass. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard claims that a musician is taking a unique and new approach to his or her instrument. In reality, new approaches are quite rare. However, I do think something is going on with Spasojevic. The stories he tells on this recording are presented in both ensemble and solo settings.
The group pieces benefit from the quality of bassist’s partners. I don’t know if Spasojevic is familiar with the Mark Egan/Danny Gottlieb project of the 80s and 90s, Elements, but the character of the compositions and the dynamic interplay presented on Story On Bass could be mistaken for an updated version of that wonderful collaboration. Based on how I feel about Elements, that’s about the highest praise I could give.
However, to my ears, it is Spasojevic’s solo forays that give evidence to something quite different. His melodies are deep and moving and he obtains unique sounds through the use of many special effects mustered from his strings. These aren’t dorky sound-effects pulled-off for the purposes of showing off. Rather, they are used to create sound fields of emotion. You need to stop what you are doing to pay close attention. He seems to use less of these effects on the ensemble pieces. Perhaps, because he feels they may be lost in the mix? I don’t know, but both approaches work quite well and a pleasing balance is found.
I wish Uros well on his mission. It is not going to be an easy one, but with the fortitude he seems to possess and the skill with which he presents his inner voices, as mentioned on his website, I believe he will go a long way to a mission accomplished. Story On Bass tells tales you will want to listen to over and over.
Author of Power, Passion and Beauty- The Story of the Legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra.