4. Stanley Clarke While Stanley Clarke is both a master of the double bass and electric bass, and a dynamic visionary on both instruments, he's also an accomplished composer, as evidenced by many of his solo discs, the groove-heave 1976 release, School Days, as well as his film scores. Clarke is clearly a master of jazz-rock fusion, especially during his time with Return to Forever, but he can lay down a funk groove like no other, and he swings like a madman.
3. Jaco Pastorius A fiery and muscular player, Jaco Pastorius, who passed away in 1987 at the age of 35, remains one of the most influential electric bassists in jazz. His 1975 self-titled debut album is hailed by some as the best jazz bass album ever; it should be required listening for any aspiring bass player, especially his interpretation of Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee," or his harmonic work on "Continuum" and "Portrait of Tracy." Pastorius used to say he was the greatest bass player in the world, and dude could back it up with his virtuosic abilities.
2. Ron Carter Ron Carter has played on over 2,500 albums and secured a spot in jazz history as one of the world's finest bassists. Doing much more than merely helping anchor the rhythm, Carter is a melodic master. In his five-decade-long career, he's played with countless jazz legends, including a five-year stint in Miles Davis's quintet, an outfit that also included Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams. While his playing on most of the recordings he did with Davis are stellar, some of his albums as a leader, like Uptown Conversation, are excellent, as are his duo albums with guitarist Jim Hall, platters like Live at the Village West and Alone Together.