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BassPlayer 2017-03

BassPlayer 2017-03

26 bassplayer.com /

26 bassplayer.com / march2017

Island Dreamer Oskar Cartaya’s Journey From The Tropics To The Top Faced with invitations to play at bass events on opposite coasts on the same weekend, most musicians would pick one and beg off the other. Not Oskar Cartaya. He hopped a plane from Los Angeles to New York, where he put together and rehearsed a band to perform at La Bella’s annual Lords of the Low End concert. He then got up at 4 AM for a flight back to L.A. for his afternoon clinic performance with his nine-piece band, Oskar Cartaya & the Ricannection, at Bass Player LIVE! 2016. That’s business as usual for the charismatic Cartaya, whose spicy grooves and tireless work ethic have taken him from the dangerous jungles of South America with Willie Colón to musical-directing sold-out tours for Jennifer Lopez. This time, however, Cartaya is doing it for himself. With his solo artist side at last coming into focus, Oskar has released Bajo Mundo, a 13-track album featuring robust, melodic compositions set to sizzling south- and north-of-the- Equator feels, plus guest turns by Stanley Clarke and Marcus Miller. Central to the journey is Cartaya’s bravura bass work, be it improvised rhythmic counterpoint on Baby Bass, hard-plucked bass guitar heads, singing fretless flights, or timbrerich tumbaos on upright. Born in New York City on May 19, 1963, Oskar moved with his family to Puerto Rico when he was six, to be raised in “la Ciudad Progresista” (the progressive city) of Bayamón. Though not from a musical household, Cartaya got a guitar and lessons at age nine, only to become obsessed by bass a year later. “I don’t remember the attraction, but I sawed off my mom’s broom handle, taped it to the bottom of my acoustic guitar and played it like a standup bass.” A Les Paul-style electric bass came next, followed by upright By Chris Jisi bassplayer.com / march2017 27

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