Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes: Isolated Bass & Vocals

Our Facebook friend Leon Wilson shared this alternate track with us, featuring the isolated bass work of Bakithi Kumalo on Paul Simon’s hit, “Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes”.

Yep, this is all that’s needed. Bakithi holds down so much at once, yet without sounding like he’s doing too much. Genius at work.

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Share your thoughts

  1. One of the most original and inventive Bass players ever. Truly a great original voice in the world of Bass. Love this.

  2. Humbling. honest and holycow some note choices! This is the Bass Guitar.

  3. Beautiful bass line! Pure genious, so unique, especially when you hear it isolated like this. Thanks!

  4. Love the bass……….man. Paul wasn’t bad either!

  5. Bakithi is one of the best storytellers. I met him numerous times, he’s a treasure.

  6. Just happy to share the joy…

  7. It blew my mind 25 years ago, it still does today! Simply awesome…

  8. Ted Knecht

    That was fun. Only bass players will really get it, but the fretless work is here is so special.

  9. I fully agree with all the comments her about Bakithi’s playing and gracious personality. And this is perhaps my favorite of all his bass lines. I recently had the “interesting” fortune to play THE bass as it hung in a music store while he was on tour. I initially did not know what it was (nor did the salesman on duty at the time), but I was blown away by the instrument’s uniqueness, and it had that sound (not quite as I was playing it, to be sure!). As the store owner walked in he asked me if I knew what bass I was playing (I’d been on it for a good 20 minutes before he showed up). I of course replied I did not, I just figured it was some odd bass he’d come across to sell. Well, it turns out it was Bakithi’s Washburn that was used on the recordings. Truly I had never seen another one exactly like it. Anyway, I know the man and his family, and they are all gifted and delightful, and when I told him the story he just laughed. I was tickled at playing it though!!!

  10. Bill

    One of my favorite fretless bass songs! Awesome!

  11. Bakithi Kumalo is an absolutely amazing bassist. I always find something completely new and interesting in the songs he performs on.I would LOVE to have the complete Paul Simon catalog with the bass and vocals isolated like this. I’m afraid I’m not entirely certain that everything I’ve heard from Paul Simon is SOLELY Bakithi Kumalo but I find his playing to be incredibly inspiring.

  12. That’s made my morning :)

  13. Such a nice interaction between bass and vocals, the song sounds like it’s complete, even without drums, percussion and harmony. Outstanding! No wonder Paul Simon kept Bakiti by his side since then…

  14. Gary Lucre

    Love his Style

  15. George Smith


  16. One of my favourite players!
    Love it.

  17. Scott Macleod

    So nice,beautiful playing.Solid,fluid and yet so melodic…

  18. Mike Matthews

    This is FANTASTIC !!! Perfect approach to playing the bass. Genius indeed !!!

  19. Truth be told this guy could be playing a comb with wax paper and the sound would be inspiring : )

  20. Nazeem lakay

    Bakithi an amazing bassist and a great friend. Funny . A friend who’s kind with manny jokes if you know him like I do. We were both hot on the circuit in South Africa. He was in Soweto Johannesburg with his band Teta . I was in Durban with South Africa ‘s guru Baba Makoena Rip . Guitarist . What a beautiful soul baba had. baba was Durban’s own George Benson with his GB10 guitar. Always had the nicest things to say about Bakithi. They both spoke the same language . This kept me on my toes to keep rocking as a bassist. Both Bakithi and myself needed more exposure and during apartheid it was impossible . We Both moved on. I remember when the call came for Bakithi with Paul Simon every one that knew him was thrilled . So was I. This meant he’s going to see the big Apple ? New York City . Much better for him and open up doors for other musicians . In the early eighties only fewer of us South Africans musician were able to leave South Africa . Knowing my buddy has made a name for himself with Paul Simao and the world out there . You earned it Bakithi. In 1985 I formed a new outfit named League of Nation . Cape Malay – coloured – East Indian . English and Lebanese . Working on abolishing apartheid South Africa was in chaos . Blacks could go to a bar pay their entry fee but wasn’t allowed to dance on the same dance floor . How ridiculous. Non white band members a table was a sign in the corner. This was pathetic !! The League of Nations was ask to stop any performances immediately or els face deportation by South African s security. I called them bully boys. Instruments was confiscate and eventually the band could not perform any more the two English members was ask to leave South Africa . This put Muhammad Ali -Jessie Jackson – Yoko Ono Greg Howitt Brolly music to the rescue. My bro Bakithi in NY. Me in Canada . And we still make beautiful music. So much to talk about. PLH.

  21. Arnel Mendoza

    African bass groove at its finest. He and Richard are amazing.
    Has anyone transcribed this? :)

  22. Erik

    Looks like I had a note wrong! Lol, it was the last note of the main riff.

  23. Tom Mulligan

    Truly a great bass player and a great person who I met in the 1980s when he came to this country and was playing with Paul Simon and Jonathan Butler. I still see him every chance I have, mostly PJB Clinics.

  24. Kev

    Really admire Bakithi Kumalo’s playing. Does anyone know how he gets that tone on Diamonds? Does he use any effects pedals?

  25. Dave

    I’ve had the opportunity to photograph several concerts of his at the college his daughter attended. When I first approached him to ask for consent, I had no idea what to expect. I discovered he is an absolutely wonderful person to know. No “big time” pretentiousness, no open the door for me, just a joyful presence.

    And he’s an amazing bass player.