Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Celebration Of Funk Brother #1


I would like to take a moment today to reflect on James Jamerson, and offer a minor homage to him on his birthday.

Years ago, I worked with a former Motown artist who brought me to a deeper appreciation of the Hook's role within the Sound of Young America than I had formerly possessed as a crazy young rock-a-roller...Revelations abounded in sound, not least of which was that I owed a great deal of my approach to yet another originator.
As with Jaco, there is electric bass before James, and electric bass after.

But unlike Jaco (who forged his eventually unique style upon the influences of earlier masters of the electric instrument such as Bernard Odum and Jerry Jemmott), James blazed a bright trail alone, wedding a fearless improvisational sensibility rooted in the purest Jazz to seamless dance grooves that never stepped on the vocals, but enhanced them beyond measure.

James never truly got his due in his lifetime, like so many of his fellow Funk Brothers...A tragic and all-too-common situation for the innovators of music.
When he died in L.A. in 1983, few inside the music community and even fewer outside it knew that a giant had passed from us.

Fortunately, through the tireless efforts of Allen Slutsky and many others, we can now see past the obvious celebrity into the all-star team that was the Motown session musician roster, and thus many more people every day can learn of this great legacy in music.

Here is an exquisite example of how his basslines worked with the vocals of the Temptations.

Here is a splendidly executed version of one of his most exemplary lines, Darling Dear by the Jackson 5.

And there you are...Happy birthday, James. Couldn't have done it without you.

Crossposted @ darkblack

No comments: