Fred Thomas

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Alvaro Martín Gómez A., Jun 2, 2012.

  1. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Hi everybody.

    Well, just wanted to start talking about this groove master since couldn't find a thread dedicated to him. And I think he deserves it!

    Basically, there's something in particular that amazes me about him: Everybody talks about Jamerson's one-finger technique and how he could execute such basslines that way. Of course, that's a truly remarkable achievement, but I'd say that in spite of that apparently "limited" approach, his plucking hand looked like a real bassist's one. I mean, like someone who really knew what was doing.

    On the other hand, Mr. Thomas' right hand technique is one of the most "unprofessional" looking ones I've seen:


    Plucking the strings with his thumb while the other fingers were supported by extending them over the bass body. That's exactly the way in which most likely someone who doesn't know anything about playing bass would try to make some noises with it.

    But don't misunderstand me. I'm not criticizing him. On the other hand, that's precisely what awes me about him. He's the perfect example of the fact that you don't need an ultra-refined technique to GROOVE. Not that I'd like to adopt his approach, but I really love and admire his style. Check him out grooving here:

  2. ugly_bassplayer

    ugly_bassplayer Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2009
    I don't agree with the "unprofessionnal" comment, whatever works for him is fine by me.I guess it looked "pro" enought the James Brown himself.He grooves like a killer & has an awesome tone. What more do you want.
    The man is a funk legend.
  3. dylanjohnson

    dylanjohnson Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2002
    Morro Bay, CA
    Thats how Leo thought it would be played. Monk Montgomery played like that too. Original Fender bass style.
  4. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    That's why I put the word between quotation marks.
  5. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    GregC and markjazzbassist like this.
  6. jeruzz


    Nov 9, 2012
    I am an old friend of Fred's. We used to record together but we have since lost touch. It's been a while and I was a teen but he will remember me. If anyone still has contact can you tell him that Angel wants to talk to him? Just tell him the artist that Bob used to manage from New Jersey. We last recorded in Brooklyn. Please email me at jeruzz1 (at) :hyper:
  7. One Drop

    One Drop

    Oct 10, 2004
    Swiss Alps
    Love his time with JB, he's a huge fat and funky presence on everything he played on.
  8. What you guys gotta understand is that even though certain techniques look "unprofessional" to us, in 2012, when these guys were writing this stuff, the "book" hadn't been written yet.

    The stuff we know today as being "good technique" wasn't even invented. They were still figuring out what works.
    Leo Smith likes this.
  9. bassist15


    Mar 6, 2006
    He still tours and plays live with Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens out of NY
    Leo Smith likes this.
  10. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    I asked Fred about this. He said that James showed him this - to play down, into the earth. Like a drum.
    GregC, Bob_Ross and And I like this.
  11. Runlikegregg


    Dec 31, 2011
    Zombie thread alert.
    Fred plays at Freddy's Bar on 5th Ave in Brooklyn on Friday Nights twice a month (or so).
    and I love that gold aerodyne.
    Leo Smith likes this.
  12. nolaguy


    Jun 27, 2011
    One thing to keep in mind is that the version of the JBs that of which Thomas was a member arrived after the original lineup featuring Bootsy Collins quit. THAT lineup recorded legendary tracks such as "sex machine" and "Talkin Loud and Sayin Nothin". We're talking R&B innovators/virtuosos. They provided a carrer boost in James Brown's career. When that group quit, Brown wanted to prove that HE was the impetus behind his music, not some young hotshot players. So in JBs Mk11 Fred Thomas was brought in- unorthodox technique, but was he FUNKY! Also in that lineup was guitarist Robert Coleman, who had just started playing guitar about a year prior. Not much technique, but he is on best R&B/Funk recordings of all time. According to Fred Wesley, trombonist/music director, he had basically give him music "lessons", even composing simple guitar parts Coleman could play. For example-
  13. BaileyMan

    BaileyMan Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2012
    San Francisco
    I love Fred's playing. Just solid with great feel. He's not the flashiest of JBs bass players, but some of my favorite grooves are his, Papa Don't Take No Mess, Ants in My Pants, Doing it To Death, among others. Always right there in the pocket. He's up there as one of my favorite JB bass players, along with Bernard Odum and Charles Sherrell.

    Bootsy's great and all, a great study, I love some of his lines, but the flashy stuff isn't my fave.
  14. i love fred
  15. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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