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James Jamerson

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by count_funkula, Aug 6, 2001.

  1. Are there any CDs of nothing but James Jamerson tunes? I want to learn some of his stuff without buying 20 different motown CDs.

  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    <b>Standing in the shadows of motown</b> is supposed to be quite good.


    Hal Leonard Publ. 35$, 25$ @ amazon.com

    A book with 2 CD, this one should give you a good insight.
  3. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    Standing In The Shadows is absolutely excellent for learning Jamerson's stuff. Keep in mind it's not Jamerson playing the parts, but other well known artists. The book makes that clear. But it is still a must get.

    If you want to hear Jamerson firsthand without buying a caseload of CDs, get the Motown 195? to 1971 box set. It's about $40 at most decent record stores. Lotta great stuff. After you learn it in "...Shadows" you can play along with the actual recording of Jamerson.


  4. LowfreqB


    Nov 10, 2000
    United States
    wondering if Carol Kaye is on that CD. Shes one bad little grandma! She and James are the 2 most recorded bassist in history. I think Carol is the most. Then again she is still alive and working.
  5. Oh, I thought you said Jenna Jameson. You got me all excited.
  6. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    No, she doesn't appear on SITSOM. She'd prefer the title read "Standing In Carole Kaye's Shadow, Since I Really Played All Those Parts And Have My Own Personal Records To Prove It".

    This is a great package, by the way. Pretty surprising to hear some of the players who demonstrate Jamerson's classic stuff....there are some folks there you'd not suspect.
  7. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I always thought the CDs were kind of cheesy. I play along with the originals.
  8. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...'solo' the bass track! ;)
  9. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I like Chuck Rainey, I really do, but his Bernadette didn't have that boomy, dead-string, flatwound sound from the original recording. It sounds way different to my ear, and as much respect as I have for Chuck, I really can't listen to that version. I have to be able to hear Levi Stubbs pleading to Bernadette too.

    Who did Darling Dear on that CD? Was it Geddy Lee, that one wasn't bad. Jamerson Jr.'s "My Guy" on his dad's old DB was pretty good too, but it was just that one vamp.

    I think that 80s R&B had this certain production standard and sound that was uniform in a lot of records, that was much different from Motown production. I think part of it is that difference in bass timbre and the overall mix.
  10. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    It was Gerald Veasley (SP?)
    I love his tone on Darling sear. I tried to get that tone for so long. I still can't.
  11. BassLand


    Mar 20, 2000
    Lost Angeles
    Dear Motown fans,

    With regrd to SITSOM's accompanying CD's, I think the important point is 20+ of the most celebrated bassist in our generation have chosen to honor James Jamerson for his life's work by playing renditions of his famous basslines.

    Do most of them sound like Jamerson? In my personal opinion NO, Does that diminish their tribute to him, NO. (them's hard shoes to fill buddy) If you want to hear what in my opinion is a cheesy (to use the term already expressed here) attempt at the bassline from Bernadette go here:


    To mention Jamerson and Kaye in the same breath does a great disservice to one of those individuals. There is no comparison (IMO) especially with regards to the music which comprises the "Jamerson/Kaye controversy" started by Kaye (IMO).

    From LowfreqB

    "wondering if Carol Kaye is on that CD. Shes one bad little grandma! She and James are the 2 most recorded bassist in history. I think Carol is the most. Then again she is still alive and working."

    Of course she does not appear on the tribute to Jamerson. If you were claiming work commonly known to have been another's work, would you then stage a tribute to that person? I think not...

    Just think about this, I have not ever seen Motown supporting her contention to have played on the original recordings, yet Jobete Music (the publish company that controls the rights to those songs owned by Motown founder Berry Gordy) allowed all of the music notation and sound recordings of music in it's catalog which was to be used in SITSOM so it is very clear how Gordy (Who controlled Jobete exclusively at the time SITSOM was published) comes down on this subject. He even provided the forword to SITSOM calling Jamerson a genius of the bass. Have you ever seen (other than her website written and heavily controlled by her) Gordy's support for her with regards to the songs in question?

    Compare that with the attempt at playing only the bassline of Bernadette that is referenced above. To my knowlege basslines by them selves are not copywritable. You will find no use of Motown/Jobete copywrited material used in support of the contention that Kaye played the original recording. The closest I have ever come to that phenomenon is hearing radio interviews by kaye in which the original recording of "I Was Made To Love Her" played on a radio station that paid the customery License fee to play it on thier station followed by her stating that it was here on the record. If you have a radio station, you can play that record anyway (as long as the broadcast fees are paid) and the fact that it was followed by her claims adds (IMO) no weight to those claims.

    I humble ask for opinions of other contibutors to this thread to comment on how that sound clip on the page referenced above sounds. You already know how I feel...

    Does Carol Kaye's lone bassline sound like the original? Do you feel she has been supported in any way by the company (Motown), the Producers of the record (who are still with us), or the artist, Levi Stubbs of the 4 tops, who performed the lead vocal on Bernadette.? Have you heard mention of her name connected with that and other songs in this so called controversy by anyone other than her? Do you realize that at various times I have read Ms. Kaye's claim to have recorded the bass on "My Guy" by Mary Wells, which is actually Jamerson on Upright bass? To my knowlege Ms. Kaye does not play that instrument.

    Now her buddies on the net need to answer those questions rather than attacking anyone who supports Jamerson's music (or using any mention of Jamerson and Motown to bring up Ms Kayes name). In short it never happens other than blanket statements to the effect that that there is some grand conspiracy to rob her of those credits and that anyone supporting Jamerson's role in the music is biased and lying. Or wait for some book that supports her claims and how that author should be trusted over the people who actually made the music (if his book really does support her claims). What a crock!

  12. bassmonkeee


    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    :rolleyes: Geez, did Carol Kaye kick your dog, or something?

    Back to the subject at hand (hearing Jamerson without buying 20 cds--not starting a pi$$ing contest)....if you want to get a great collection of Motown with Jamerson, I recommend Hitsville USA. Four cds, and Jamerson plays on most of them. Plus, you get a lesson on some of the best music of the time.
  13. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    I have to agree with that.
    I bought that boxset a couple of years ago. I think every bass player should have it.
    A lesson of groove.
  14. BassLand


    Mar 20, 2000
    Lost Angeles
    no... I don't have a dog...
  15. BassLand


    Mar 20, 2000
    Lost Angeles
    BassMonkeee said....

    "Back to the subject at hand (hearing Jamerson without buying 20 cds--not starting a pi$$ing contest)...."


    I agree it is a drag to come to a thread expecting to talk about Jamerson and someone invariable starts bringing up Carol. I did not mention it first but I did answer someone who did. As far as a pi$$ing contest, not me...

    I originally came to suggest looking at a transcription I did of Jmaerson's bassline on Marvin Gayes "What's Happening Brother" on the "What's Going On" CD. The Transcription is here:


    And there is a short real audio of me playing the first 20 bars of the piece (mistakes and all).

    The Motown singles compilation 1959-1971 is an excellent rescource for Jamerson's playing. He was on most of the cuts as someone mentioned. I will say that reading Jamersons lines is a bear. I am a pretty good reader but trying to play those lines note for note was not the way I learned them when they first came out (nor is it the way Jamerson came up with the lines in the first place) and I find that I am better at playing in his style than reading for his style.

    JimK put it very elegantly

    "IMHO, Jamerson's bass playing is steeped more into an upright vibe...his grooves are based on improvisation & surprise, his rhythms & note choices were daring(a little 'outside' even). IMO, they sound as though he was playin' them the for the FIRST time. "

    Back on track now...

  16. bassmonkeee


    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    Hey, BL, I didn't mean to bust your chops. It's all good.

    Very nice transcription of What's Going On.

    Speaking of What's Going On (My desert album disc, btw), if you aren't aware, there is a new 2-disc Deluxe Version that was released on Feb 27th (my birthday :D ) that is amazing. Two different mixes of the album, almost the entire album played live (with Jamerson--how cool is that?!?), and a great version of What's Going On (the song) get to hear Jamerson's monster tone isolated, and they slowly add other instruments to it. If you are a fan of this album, or bass playing in general, you simply MUST get the deluxe version.
  17. BassLand


    Mar 20, 2000
    Lost Angeles
    Hi BassMonkeee,

    No problem, my chops are in great shape. The CD entitled "What's Going On The Deluxe Edition" was the source of the transcription of the song "What's Happening Brother" (not "What's Going On" as misstated in your post).

    "The Foundation", a mix of the recording comprised of mostly Jamerson's unprocessed bassline to "What's Going On" followed by adding the skeleton rhythm section and Dave VanDiPette's wonderful string arrangement is quite interesting (it was hard for me to believe it was the same take until I compared it with the transcription in SITSOM). Then there is the live version of the all the songs on that album performed at Marvin Gaye Day in Washington DC (Marvin's hometown). IMO, It gives a rare insite into Jamerson and the fact that he was a real person who was only partially represented by all the great studio performances we have heard him play on in prior released recordings.

    I used to think that I was not as good of a musician because in many ways I compared my bassplaying to what I now view as the polished recordings featuring Jamerson and now to hear the raw unpolished takes, it humanizes him. He was not a perfect player. Really no one is. It is clear he took musical risks and sometimes they did not work out.
  18. bassmonkeee


    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    Whoops--that's what happens when you post before the caffeine hits.

    The only thing that could have made the concert tracks better is if Mercy, Mercy Me was among the tracks they did live. Oh, well. Beggars can't be choosers.
  19. Tom G

    Tom G

    Jul 17, 2000
    Newbie here, interesting thread. Got a nice MP3 of Jamerson called "Fever in the Funk House" all instrumental of course, cool funky lines. Might want to check that one out. Love that tone!
  20. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Welcome, Tom.
    ...hmmmm; I wonderin' if your MP3 is a track from an album cut by The Funk Brothers. I seem to recall reading they released an album way back when.
    Needless to say, I would love to have a copy...anyone? :)

    Killer transcription(I printed it out @work & was groovin' to it in-between chores). Some classic Jamerson-isms abound in that one, huh?!
    Needless to say(Part Dos), I agree with your above soliloquy. ;)

    BTW, that is Bob Babbitt doin' "Inner City Blues", right? :)

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