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Dunn vs Jammerson

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by mambo4, Sep 15, 2008.

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  1. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    First let me apologize for the thread title -I am NOT trying to stoke a flame war over who is better.
    So let me be clear : THIS IS ONLY MY OPINION.
    I believe that both Duck Dunn and James Jamerson were pivotal architects of soul music and R&B during its coming of age.
    When it comes to who you should study for groove and soul, Their names are often mentioned in the same breath.
    - and I have no doubt that it is deservedly so.

    I admit that I have way more Motown than Staxx records in my collection, so I have heard much more of Jamerson than of Dunn.
    (Staxx -wise: The Very Best of Otis Redding and some Starbucks Staxx compilation...probably not the best selection for Dunn.)
    My expereince as a listener has left me with the impression that Jamerson was in another league (again, THIS IS ONLY MY OPINION).
    Not to deride Dunn: Certainly he played tasty grooves that serve the song, and no doubt broke new ground at the time, and he deserves his place in bass history if not American music history.
    But Jamersons lines seem to burst with energy and personality, and I just don't get that from what I have heard of Dunn.

    So I'm asking, nay begging, my fellow TBrs: PROOVE ME WRONG!
    If I hold up "Bernadette", Gladys Knight's "Grapevine", or "Whats Goin' On" as evidence for Jamerson,
    what tracks would you hold up for Dunn?
  2. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    For the most part-
    Jamerson played lines...with great variation. His Jazz background is evident.

    For the most part-
    Dunn played figures...that often repeated themselves. More of a Blues/R&B background.

    Jamerson's line on "Fever In The Funk House" has some nice 'figures'...but there are just a bar here & there in a bigger piece.
    I'm with you...Jamerson was in another league, still is.
  3. Wasim


    Dec 10, 2004
    I think if you compare anyone to Jamerson, the other guy will come off second best.

    It's not an exaggeration to say JJ founded the electric bass as an important instrument in popular music. He's a true legend and while there may be others who can match his technical ability, no one will be able to say they did it before him.

    Having said that, that's no shame for Duck Dunn, who was a leading player in his own right. Respect goes to anyone who makes a contribution to music like he has.
  4. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    What JimK said!
    You can hear Jamerson's outlining the chord changes with his grooves like a jazz cat.
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Jamerson could take Dunn boxing, but Dunn could out-wrestle Jamerson.

    Tis a silly thread. Appreciate both for the pioneers that they are/were.
  6. I think you've described their different styles quite well.

    I'm definitely in a Dunn camp stylistically and wish I could be a little more "loose" like Jamerson...but then, maybe I'd have to start drinking ;)
  7. MR PC

    MR PC Banned

    Dec 1, 2007
    It's pretty well known that Steve Cropper composed most of Dunn's work, at least on the hits. So Duck really isn't a composer as much as a great player. A great one who was lucky enough to be in a situation where he was payed to play great music. And even at that time, there were great players who could have cut the gig, if just playing bass was the only requirement.

    OTOH, James Jamerson was a composer, as well as a bassist with a huge sound to match his masterpieces. The mold was broken on him long ago.
  8. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I hear ya...I have had both What Duck Dunn & SITSOM for years. SITSOM is the one I keep going back to.

    That said-
    If possible, check out Dunn with Otis Redding at the Monterey Pop Fest DVD...he's gettin' it!
  9. BluesWalker

    BluesWalker Supporting Member

    Jun 17, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    I do not understand how you can state one is better than the other, what is this Football????? They had very different styles of playing and defining a song throught their bass lines.

    Dunn is a straight ahead groove player who does a fantastic job holding the beat while in most cases playing a very creative, melodic line. Most of his notes are on the beat with few few slides, passing notes, ghost notes, etc. His approach in large part defined the sound of a lot of Stax artists. A very effective approach and on that has been adopted by numerous players, some playing for top names, some playing the local bar.

    Jamerson came more from a jazz background. His playing is full of passing notes, slides, ghost notes, implying the down beat with a strong note on the "and" of the beat, playing 4ths, etc. Like Dunn, his playing helped define the sound of a lot of the Motown artists, and is emulated by many players on the national, local and basement scenes.
  10. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    I love both, just different styles. If anything, it's Dunn's style that is more adapted in today's music, IMHO. I could just see one of the producers of today trying to "Pro-Tool and Quantize" Jamerson's feel & ghost notes.;)
  11. GM60466


    May 20, 2006
    Land of Lakland
    Green Onions vs My Girl
    Two completely different approaches to bass lines.

  12. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Thanks for all the responses, guys!
    And thanks for not turning it into a big flame war either
    -us bass players have such restraint :bassist:

    It seems like the impression I got is shared , at least by a few.

    Perhaps a better way to compare their contributions is to consider Jamerson an example of groove virtuosity while Dunn demonstrates the skill of a consummate, tasteful sideman( aka the less-is-more-approach)?

    I bet a lot more heads would have exploded if this were jamerson vs. jaco:D
  13. They're both great but I would put Chuck Rainey ahead of Dunn as far as pivotal players of the genre.
  14. MR PC

    MR PC Banned

    Dec 1, 2007
    Duck Dunn didn't play on "Green Onions". Lewie Steinberg played that one. Dunn joined the band later on. He was/is a lucky cat for sure!

    "My Girl", that line sounds like it was played "as written".
  15. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    We're blessed to still have Duck Dunn around, and I'm sure he would tell anyone that Jamie Jamerson had way more chops than he does. The question is so what? Duck Dunn sounded great on all those old Stax/Volt records. What else matters?
  16. MR PC

    MR PC Banned

    Dec 1, 2007
    Yes, considering that bout with throat cancer he had a while back. I wonder if smoking that pipe had anything to o with that?
  17. david fitch

    david fitch

    Feb 20, 2007
    HELLO....Duck = Menphis Sound....Jamerson = Motown Sound. Two of the best sounds.This is silly stuff and pointless !
  18. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    No need to VS these guys. They're both unique
  19. david fitch

    david fitch

    Feb 20, 2007
    Sorry,That is Memphis Sound ! I have alotta love for The Duck !
  20. MR PC

    MR PC Banned

    Dec 1, 2007
    I'm a fan of DD's playing with Albert King. I think he stretched out a lot on those sessions. Great overdriven mid-rangey P-Bass sounds. Sounds like bass guitar.

    Overall, I'd say that Jamerson's sound on recordings had more bottom than Duck's. Sounds more like an upright miked from a few feet away.

    Love em both!

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