Chris Lightcap is a bassist, bass guitarist, arranger, bandleader, composer, and improviser. As a sideman he has worked with dozens of artists including Regina Carter, Whit Dickey, Craig Taborn, Marc Ribot, Joe Morris, Rob Brown, and Tom Harrell, to name a scant few. He has also arranged recording dates for several artists. Since the late '90s he has appeared on more than six dozen recordings. In addition to his work as a sideman, he has led several bands since 2000 and produced critically acclaimed albums of his original music, including 2003's widely celebrated Bigmouth with drummer Gerald Cleaver and saxophonists Tony Malaby and Bill McHenry. He later he expanded the group to a quintet (also called Bigmouth) with Taborn, Cleaver, and Malaby and Chris Cheek on tenor saxophones. Whether playing straight jazz changes, classical/jazz and folk hybrids or his own curious brand of jazz-rock fusion, Lightcap's approach is direct and pulse-centric. His tone on the upright bass is warm, deep, woody, and rich; it's rife with fat pizzicato runs. His electric playing is both an engine and a hub driving his various band's performances in studio or on-stage. His 2010 album Deluxe with Bigmouth (that included selections with alto saxophonist Andrew D'Angelo) was celebrated by numerous media outlets in the United States and Europe as one of the best recordings of the year. In 2018, he issued Superette, by his all-electric ensemble of the same name featuring Jonathan Goldberger and Curtis Hasselbring on guitars and Dan Rieser on drums. (Keyboardist John Medeski and guitarist Nels Cline also assisted.) Lightcap is from Latrobe, Pennsylvania. As a youngster he played violin and piano before taking up electric bass at age 14. He began studying the upright bass as a senior in high school and furthered his studies at Williams College where he studied bass, composition, and improvisation with Milt Hinton, Cameron Brown, Alvin Lucier, and Bill Dixon. He also studied and performed with drummer Ed Blackwell shortly before the latter's death in 1992. After graduation and winning the school's prestigious Hutchinson arts grant, he relocated to New York City. From the late '90s onward, he has been active in the quartets of guitarist Joe Morris, Rob Brown, and Whit Dickey, as well as a member of Carter's studio and traveling bands, and with PLK Trio (with saxophonist Lisa Parrot and drummer Heinrich Köbberling) in addition to his own groups. His first two leader offerings were 2000's Lay-Up and 2003's Bigmouth -- both issued by Fresh Sounds New Talent. In 2001 he began working with Taborn on the keyboardist's Light Made Lighter, and in 2003 debuted with Carter's group on Paganini: After a Dream. In addition to his own recording and touring, Lightcap worked with Anthony Braxton, Lawrence "Butch" Morris, Cecil Taylor, James Carter, Tom Harrell, and Archie Shepp. Though Lightcap began arranging as early as 1997 for Brown's Scratching the Surface, but came into his own with his work Matt Wilson's That’s Gonna Leave a Mark (2009), and Bigmouth's Deluxe album (on Clean Feed) a year later. He also arranged a pair of Carter dates in 2010's Reverse Thread and Southern Comfort in 2014, along with Mary Halvorson's Meltframe. In 2015, Bigmouth, trimmed themselves back to a quintet and issued the wildly adventurous Epicenter for Clean Feed. Not only was the record well-received critically, but the band's live shows were exceptionally well-reviewed including appearances at European jazz festivals including Willisau, North Sea, Ljubljana, and Edinburgh. After returning to the States, Lightcap focused on his role as a sideman. He appeared on albums by Parrot, Wilson, Carter, Skye Steele, Taborn, and Shakers 'n' Bakers. He formed the Superette band in late 2017 with guitarists Goldberger and Hasselbring, and Rieser on drums. Rather than confine themselves to jazz, the group was a fusion outfit who created a hybrid sound that bled through harmolodic jazz, psychedelic rock, West African urban and folk styles, and even surf music. In September 2018, they issued their self-titled debut for Royal Potato Family Records, which also featured Cline and Medeski in the lineup and David Breskin as co-producer. The recording closed with a subtle cover of Neil Young's "Birds," with Lightcap guiding the melody. ~ Joslyn Layne
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Jazz - Released September 7, 2018 | The Royal Potato Family
After a couple albums with his excellent Bigmouth band, Chris Lightcap is back with a new album and band, Superette. Lightcap plays bass guitar exclusively on this recording, joined by bandmates Jonathan Goldberger and Curtis Hasselbring on guitars (panned right and left, respectively) with Dan Rieser on drums and both Nels Cline and John Medeski guesting on a handful of tracks. Superette is definitely more of a rock-leaning group than Lightcap has led in the past, but the writing for the band is superb. The songs don't really feature any prominent soloing, except from Cline and Medeski when they appear. There's certainly some great playing going on, like the ripping guitar at the end of "Calling on Cars," but the focus really seems to be on the atmosphere and interplay of the instruments, not flashy solos. The choice of covers also leans toward the rock end of the spectrum: a rocker from Link Wray and a couple pretty songs from Neil Young and notorious oddball Skip Spence (!). A couple tracks have a bit of an African influence ("She Walked In" and "Djali"), and "Frozen Bread" is a jagged funk tune. "Far Away Planet" has a great bassline reminiscent of "Maneater" and features some great playing from Medeski and Cline. "Calling on Cars" and "Birds" have excellent up-front basslines, but again the focus on this album is really the tunes themselves. Lightcap's and Hasselbring's originals are all really strong, and the covers are well chosen and certainly off the beaten path. Superette is a great new album and promising new band from Chris Lightcap. ~ Sean Westergaard
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