Bassist Josh Abrams is a ubiquitous presence in the local scene and beyond, bringing energy, deep grooves, and a full-bodied tone to such diverse groups as Town and Country, the Sam Prekop Band, Sticks and Stones, Prefuse 73, and, many years ago, the Roots. But he’s best known as a jazz musician, and for good reason–he’s one of the few cats on the free-music scene who doesn’t need a music stand in front of him to tackle standards at the drop of a hat.
While Abrams usually hangs in the background, holding down the groove and helping others sound better, last year he released a compelling solo joint under the name Reminder for Eastern Developments, the label owned by Prefuse mainman Scott Herren. (Abrams had previously made two albums under his own name for the elusive Spanish label Lucky Kitchen, but they were a more subdued mix of field recordings and acoustic tweakery.) While he’s still laying down the earthy bass lines, he’s also crafting nice ‘n’ tight beats with a marked J Dilla influence, along with far-flung samples and tasteful keyboard licks that collide in alternately smooth grooves and impressively jagged splinters. It’s kind of like that laid-back, restaurant-grade downtempo shit, except it’s actually interesting.
Last month Abrams released a follow-up called West Side Cabin EP #1 as one of the inaugural titles in Ropeadope‘s new download-only series. Guitarist Jeff Parker joins on one exemplary track, but otherwise it’s all Abrams getting his head-nod on. This is the kind of stuff I wish we’d hear in so-called chill-out rooms.