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  • Russell K Shores - Thunder Rain

    Album Review
    Thunder Rain - Russell K Shores
    Genre - Funk/Jazz

    Of all the things I contribute to Thunder Row, one of my happiest moments is when I have the privilege of reviewing the work of one of our own TMBG students. Such is the case with this month’s album; I am honoured to present this look at Thunder Rain, the latest release by our own Russell K. Shores.

    From his website, Russellkshores.com:

    Russell Kenji Shores was born in New York has a varied and impressive resume. Nicknamed Thor or Thunder Baby by his peers for his thunderous grooves, he began playing bass at age twelve. Armed with a degree in music, he began his professional career. Russell has shared the stage with Diana Ross, Julian Lennon, The Kevin Fowler band, Lucid Dream, The Steve O’Neil Band, The Major Burkes Band, The ACC Jazz Band, The Blues Specialist, which features Mel Davis (cousin of the legendary T Bone Walker), Elliott Fikes, Soul Serenade (as musical director), Austin Alibi, the Wesley United Methodist Church, the First Baptist Church, the Mount Zion Baptist Church, and The Freedom Home Baptist Church Mass Choir under the leadership of Pastor O.B Howard Jr. Russell is also on staff as the electric and contra bass teacher at the Academy of Music in Austin Texas. Russell plays and has the endorsement of MTD basses, American and MTD Kingston and MTD strings, Visual Sound pedals, AccuGroove speaker cabs, Gruv Gear, and Reunion Blues Gig bags.

    The album is a collection of 8 instrumental songs, perfectly encapsulated by the title, Thunder Rain. Each song is an emotional experience where the listener can close his/her eyes and imagine one of those special times within the weather... and the magnificent rumbling thunder that is the bass guitar. In the hands of this artist, the bass takes control of your heartbeat with its commanding growl or smooth soothing tones. Bass lovers will understand. Shores uses 5, 6, and 7 string basses, as well as a fretless, so the voices are many, the moods diverse, always leading exactly where Shores wants you to go.

    The opener, Breezin’, is a perfect introduction. Just close your eyes and kick back as it works its magic on your soul. A big sigh of satisfaction as this breeze passes over you. Jazzy and cool, with a serious bottom end.

    After we’ve had a chance to relax, along comes Big Anchor with its amazing funk-filled rhythms. We’re back on our feet for this one, even if just to bob our heads and pull on our groovy bass-face. You know the one I’m talking about. The tasty keyboard laughs in light dancing tones with big brother bass right behind to keep things heavy and rich. Mood, baby. It’s all about mood.

    The next mood is created in the tune, River People. It’s a busier, more intricate piece, with brassier effects on the keyboards and a funked up bass that really gives the feeling of a jam session. The first two tunes gave me the feeling of being outside. River People, despite its title, brought me the sense that I had moved indoors. Maybe the rain was coming down in buckets outside.

    Mr. DV follows. This is one of those songs that really stands out in the mind of a bass fan. So heavy, so hot, so many different expressions. When Shores calls the thunder, he drops those bombs right down on top of your head. Well placed as the fourth song - this one marks the end of the first half of the collection. The thunder’s really rolling now. This song is too big!

    Now, let’s start all over again with the second half Maybe the storm has lulled a bit, but things are about to pick up once more. The title song, Thunder Rain, goes straight to the theme. We start softly, with thunder/rain effects wafting gently in the background, along with various accents on the keyboards. Then in steps Shores, that massive sound grumbling and growling though the piece, reminding us that it’s all about that thunder! The number ends with an aggressive stomp that makes you nod in affirmation and say, “And THAT is how you do THAT.”

    In 6th place, Top Secret is a true bass delight! Shores’ chops are smokin’ hot. Those brassy keyboard accents walk right alongside his grooves. This man plays so well, the word “Groove” doesn’t quite seem enough to describe his lowdown vibrations. Maybe “Grooooooove” would be more appropriate. And when you say it, curl your lip, then close your fist and move it in front of your body. You feel this one in your chest!

    Pulling up for the next mood is GS1, another heavy funk piece with lots of slap and style. At this point in the album, I really get the feeling we’ve left the rain behind, and are now just cowering under the trees as the thunder booms above us.

    Tynet brings things to a close with some nice melodic bass, very handily played by Shores. The finger-work alone is enough to drop a jaw or two. The man is a true bass master, a force to be reckoned with. His skills are right up there with some of the best. I hear a little Doug Johns in his approach; both men have a solid feel for the funk, and how important it is to keep that bass out front and in your face

    On an album like this, the presence of the bass should never slip into the background in favour of the melodies. The keyboards and drums are definitely skillfully handled and well featured, but Shores’ keeps the bass voices well heard and in command; he reminds us that this melody IS the thunder.

    Russell K Shores - 5, 6, and 7 String bass and fretless bass
    Joel Guzman - piano, keyboards, drum programs
    Phil Chidester - keyboards
    Mike Kosacek - drums

    TMBG is honoured that a player of this quality hangs out among the denizens of Thunder Row.

    Visit RKS online


    Do yourselves a big favour and buy a copy of this superb bass-heavy collection. Available as digital downloads or in CD form at CD Baby.

    And while we're here, check out this video of Russell K Shores talking GEAR on YouTube.

    © 2015 CL Seamus for Thunder Row
    Comments 6 Comments
    1. david's Avatar
      david -
      I'll be ordering! GREAT article, Elmeaux - half review, half weather-report! I got soaked with the need to log on and get my copy. Thanks - again!
    1. thunderman's Avatar
      thunderman -
      Russell has been a TR stalwart practically since the beginning. In that time I've had a couple of intriguing glimpses of his virtuosity - and I look forward to a concentrated dose with this album! You never disappoint, Elmeaux! Thanks!
    1. Russell K Shores's Avatar
      Russell K Shores -
      thanks for all the kind words .
    1. TobiasMan's Avatar
      TobiasMan -
      Thanks Elmeaux, and Russell!!!!

      My copy is on its way!
    1. Russell K Shores's Avatar
      Russell K Shores -
      Quote Originally Posted by TobiasMan View Post
      Thanks Elmeaux, and Russell!!!!

      My copy is on its way!
      . Thanks so Much really hope you enjoy the music and Thanks writer your own so I can be a fan of yours .
    1. thunderman's Avatar
      thunderman -
      Great review. Great player/composer best of all, great man. Thanks RK!
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