Deep Devotion: J.S. Bach on Bass Guitar Reviews

Eric Johnson (Independent reviewer)

"A variation on an old musician joke says that if you want a bassist to stop playing, just put sheet music in front of them. Well, this wouldn't apply to Gino Foti, given his collection of note-for-note J.S. Bach arrangements, titled 'Deep Devotion'.

This ambitious project spans all the major stations of Bach's life, from the early fugues as church organist in Arnstadt, to one of the contrapuntal settings from 'The Art of Fugue' composed during the last few years of his life in Leipzig.

Like his other concept albums, Foti pays close attention to every detail, including the track listing. By alternating pieces of varying moods, tempos & time signatures, he achieves a wonderful flow throughout. Unlike most of his previous releases, primarily in the jazz-rock and world fusion genres, there is not even a hint of fretless bass to be found here.

The performances are full of the passion, purpose and precision required to play this complex music. With up to four bass guitars playing simultaneously, you would think that it sounds like the equivalent of dunking your head in a pool of mud, but his panning schemes, bright piano-like tone, and clever arrangements allow the listener to clearly hear all the individual lines.

Highlights for me include: the first Prelude from the six cello suites, arranged in dropped D tuning; the third Prelude from the first book of the Well Tempered Clavier; Contrapunctus 4 from the aforementioned 'The Art of Fugue'; the first variation from the Goldberg cycle; the "gigue" fugue; and 'the granddaddy of them all' organ works, the Toccata and Fugue in D minor.

All twenty tracks are brand new recordings, including an updated version of the "Little" Fugue in G minor, that he first recorded several years ago.

Highly recommended to fans of rock, jazz, and fusion bass players, especially those that have covered Bach in the past: Stu Hamm, Jeff Berlin, John Patitucci, Jonas Hellborg, and even Jaco Pastorius. Fans of the latter may also want to check out Foti's world fusion releases for his fretless work."

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Gary Ford (Independent reviewer)

"I've been looking forward to this one for months and picked up a copy as soon as it became available. Unlike some other bass-heavy albums I own, there aren't any worn-out riffs & licks, or self-indulgent noodling from some bass god-wannabe trying to pass off chops as art.

Foti's timing and articulation are superb. The clean tone with added chorus effect he uses works great with the music, sounding like a blend of electric bass (duh!), classical guitar, and the lower registers of a harpsichord, like some exotic, hybrid bass lute-clavier, that Bach himself might have designed.

One of the best things about this release is that it makes me want to pick up my bass and try to figure out how I can play these pieces, and it's been a long time since that's happened. If there was a tablature book available of this CD, I would have bought that as well.

Easily the best solo bass album from an indie that I ever bought, and even better than some of the major label stuff I own!"

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Andy Gilbert (Independent reviewer)

"J. S. Bach's vast universe filtered and reinterpreted through only forty-two low frequencies. Absolutely amazing."

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