The greatest funk bassist of all time? Well that’s a tough one because, really, there’s two sides to great funk bass players. Initially there’s the technical precision required to create, then perform, complex groove patterns (which might put James Jamerson or Carol Kaye towards the top of the list), and thereafter there’s the requirement to be a bad-ass, flamboyant, character who can act as the pied piper for the band (of which seldom match the heights of Bootsy Collins or Bernard Edwards). Bass playing in a funk outfit, perhaps more than any other role in the collective, comes with high responsibilities; you need the chops and the charisma. For what it’s worth I cheated and went with Prince. But then again, I would make Prince top of virtually every ‘best of’ list, so perhaps my opinion doesn’t count on this one.
One of the North East’s hottest talents, Dylan Cartlidge, is a bass player with both the technical precision and the charisma to make an afro sized dent in the funk world. Young, talented, and an incredibly nice fella, Cartlidge is developing a catalogue of songs which bristle with deep funk grooves whilst employing an electronic undercurrent which push his sound towards the lighter avant-garde moments of, Lotusflow3r era, Prince or Thundercat. His catalogue, and his coolness, prove that he’s already a star, but with the right amount of luck this lad could go on to be a Supernova.
Tonight’s show is an interesting one for Cartlidge, as it’s an event which confirms the rumours of his current greatness, but asks interesting questions of his future. Recently signed to Glassnote records (the home of Childish Gambino and Chrvhes), and having already worked with super producers James Dring and Danger Mouse, the ‘present’ of Cartlidge is on fine form; recent banger ‘Monsters Under The Bed’ stands out as the track of the evening, comfortably siting alongside earlier weapons of dance floor destruction ‘Scratch, Sniff’, ‘Wishing Well’ and ‘Yellow brick road’. Collectively, it’s these tracks which stand out as centrepieces in a set which maintains it’s freshness. Welcoming, inclusive and committed, Cartlidge plays his treble roles of bass player, singer and front person perfectly; directing the sound of his three-piece band through his onstage leadership as well as his deep grooves. It’s an exceptionally impressive performance.
Where Cartlidge ventures to next will be interesting. With time booked in the studio, there’s already promise of new material on the horizon which should continue his trajectory into new sounds. Yet with those sounds there may be a requirement for a more experimental live show, perhaps a larger, more jazz-rock-funk heavy, blend of characters who can support Cartlidge’s vision to create a modern day George Clinton inspired Mothership. It’s those of risks that could push Cartlidge towards ‘greatest funk bassist of all time’ lists.
A quick aside to opener Key Greyson, who’s new tracks ‘Spidey Sense’ and ‘Pictures’ provide evidence of a young MC continuing to blossom and grow into her huge potential.