I’ve tackled the issue of bassist/leaders in jazz before, something that can be expanded to include drummers as well. My idea is that a leader who comes from the rhythm section pays more attention to the creation of foundations and rhythms–platforms, if you will, that provide support for the other to develop ideas and themes. This type of leadership, when it extends to compositions and arrangements, sounds different to my ears, and in very specific and rewarding ways. Anthony Caceres is a bass player, a great one at that, and he takes his ideas of leadership just a step further in his new album Something’s Gotta Give. He’s one of the few bassist-leaders who also sings, and that gives him two distinct vantage points for his ability to create stunning arrangements for his quartet.
Anthony Caceres, who studied jazz at the University of North Texas, is a superb bass player. He’s melodic, thoughtful and light on his feet. As a singer, he’s equally adept. He has a loose, swinging style that initially comes off as modest and unassuming, but he’s also a fine singer by any traditional measure. He’s a crooner, a throwback, and he approaches these standards–everything from “A Night in Tunisia” to “What Is This Thing Called Love” to “Autumn Serenade”–with a casual elegance that melds seamlessly with his bass. He’s grabbed some of the best in the business to follow his lead: pianist Stefan Karlsson, drummer Jeff Hamilton and guitarist Davy Mooney. They have an almost preternatural openness to Caceres’ ambition, so much so that this album flows like few others.
Caceres describes himself as a jazz musician who was a late bloomer–he didn’t arrive at this point in his musical development until he after he served four years in the Navy and attended community college. He has music in his genes–his grandfather was violinist Emilio Caceres who played swing and Latin jazz in the ’30s. His great uncle Ernie played baritone sax with Eddie Condon, Jack Teagarden and even Glenn Miller’s original orchestra. Even his father played saxophone, and Anthony Caceres grew up in a household rich with jazz. When he was old enough he bought an electric bass guitar and knew he had found his purpose.
One of the most inspired ideas on Something’s Gotta Give is the inclusion of a well-known tune that’s not quite a denizen of the Great American Songbook, “I Melt With You” from Modern English. The liner notes describe his arrangement as a transformation, and I’d have to agree. This prompts a wish for him to try more of this in the future, perhaps an album made up of jazz versions of ’80s New Wave classics. Is Anthony Caceres opening that door for something in the near future? It’s interesting enough to imagine what it’s like to watch a bassist-singer perform this flawlessly, but this might be a third element that pushes him even further into the limelight.