James Jamerson

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by Johnny L, Apr 26, 2003.

  1. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    O.K., so the Standing in the Shadows of Motown movie doesn't have James Jamerson playing live and proving that he pulled all his licks off with only one finger, and Mr. Babbitt (sp?) is using a Precision instead of a double bass, but it was discovering James Jamerson about 3 years ago that took me on a journey that has led me to wanting to join my local symphony (with the guidance and support from my wonderful teachers).

    I spent many hours on my own emulating James Jamerson's great licks on my electric bass, and striving for my attack to come from the drum beat...and then discovering his double bass work on record, immediately wanting that sound, and then picking up the bow to eventually deliver that kind of power, depth, and precision to the local symphony's repertoire.

    You may like it too if you haven't given the movie a chance yet, so check it out and get pumped on moving some air with that bass!
  2. So - you're already playing in the symphony or you WANT to play in the symphony? Help me out.

    Playing the bassline to "Bernadette" arco on a DB would bring the audience to tears for sure dude!
  3. tuBass


    Dec 14, 2002
    Mesquite, Texas
    I'm not sure which movie you watched, but my copy has footage of Jamerson playing, and using the "Hook" Watch it again.
  4. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Well, I must share 2 confessions:

    1) I made the mistake of renting the "DVD" version and finding out it really wasn't a DVD but some kind of MediaPlayer scam. Since I use my old computer to watch DVD's, it couldn't handle the movie very well...though the sound came through fine and sounded great exercising my subwoofer. I'll have to rent it on video to see the hook in action, and I bet it wasn't being displayed while playing Gladys Knight's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine".

    2) I'm not in the local symphony yet. However, the dream lives on and the blood/sweat/tears still drip! Playing the double bass and striving to become a contributor to the bass section has been a super challenge, but I've been blessed with great support and great teachers. I hope one day to make it and bring a little more local representation to the orchestra, along with the goals I outlined in the starting thread.

    The hook, real or hype, doesn't diminish my satisfaction in learning his lines in any way. They are awesome lines. But I'm curious to know whether it is real.

    Doing "Bernadette" arco would make a good string crossing exercise for so many bowings, wouldn't it.
  5. I've got to assume you already have Allen Slutsky's (Dr. Licks) book on Jamerson... If not then get right on over to amazon and get it! Several of the funk brothers interviewed have since passed - it's an important document even without all the basslines. Anthony Jackson even compares Jamerson to Mozart in a very sincere and moving tribute.

    Now if someone could only find Jamerson's bass...;)
  6. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Well, I'm flattered that anyone would think that I could steal James Jamerson's licks without such an indispensable tome.

    If it wasn't for me finding it by accident when I bought my electric bass several years ago, I would never have tried to read music for the bass instead of tab...an indispensable skill for any kind of music. I was sold on the CD accompaniment to help me understand the notes on the pages, as I spent a handful of years teaching myself the guitar and picking up licks by listening and watching others...another indispensable skill worth cultivating for any instrument to shortcut the trials of other talented folks.

    I agree wholeheartedly, Slutsky deserves many pats on the back for bringing such wonderful, life-affirming music to such a level of accessibility. That very book started me on the double bass journey I take now, and I feel extremely lucky for bumping into it. Thanks for publicly recommending it, and reminding me of how I started on my way.
  7. Thor

    Thor Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    I had a good Haiku to post -
    I totally blew it so I deleted it
    I suppose, for an artist
    confessing failure is close to success;

    Failure is the the inseminator of success
  8. Paladin7


    Jul 16, 2007
    I first heard Jamerson back in the 60's. Him and Carol Kaye. I been studying him ever since. He did not play like anything or anybody. Genious, yeah. But that don't cut it. He was the man. What would that have been like? Hendrix? Jaco? Bruce Lee????
    Sad about his dying like that. Honestly, if someone had told me, I'd a' quit my job and moved him into my house. Fed him and did whatever was necessary to make a difference. That was just bull-:crying: Sh**T!
  9. Busker


    Jan 22, 2007
    The sad thing about that movie - it was way under-appreciated, except by musicians.
  10. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN

    Check out this clip for some live footage of James' one fingered playing.
  11. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    If you want to see Jamerson play live-there's Youtube clips [i'm guessing it's what Bobby King posted] of him playing with Marvin Gaye. It's from a Marvin Gaye DVD called "The Real Thing" live and in performance. There's 2 songs where we can see Jamerson-What's Goin On and What's Happenin Brother [they're from the same concert/run together]. I bought this DVD soley because of those 2 songs.

    With regards to the Standing in The Shadows of Motown Book-i highly recommend buying the studio version of the songs [either on itunes or CD] and taking a listen to how HE actually played them. Nothing against any of the guys that recorded the lines, but there's something different about the way James played them. It sounds like bull hockey-but there's a big difference that isn't simply 'playing what's on the page'-it's playing with the feel and groove that he had.
  12. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    It was interesting to watch him play... never seen footage of him before. Very economical movement in that finger. I always pictured him whacking on it a little harder than that.
  13. Me too! It was a nice bonus to see that the video of "Ain't no mountain" was filmed in Montreal in the 60s during EXPO.
  14. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Marcus - You can tell he's an upright player. So much of what he does is achieved using rakes, open string tricks, and he's rooted down there in the lower positions with upright-like fingerings. Still, it's a rather amazing index finger. The Index Finger That Shook The World!
  15. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Dang that was 4 years ago, ain't it. :p

    Just found that Marvin Gaye clip a couple of days ago by accident...awesome...what an inspiration :hyper:
  16. fred pratt

    fred pratt Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2004
    New York City
    Man, that's an awesome clip. The sound and the performance are fantastic. And to see Jamerson laying down some of his best grooves! If only we could get the footage from that one camera and watch James through the whole thing.
  17. Clockwork


    Oct 28, 2008
  18. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    Absolutely no denying James Jamerson was a genius.

    So was Marvin Gaye. It's striking to me how many of the lyrics he wrote in the 60's are still relevant today.
  19. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    After all this time, I still can't help but recognize how inspiring James Jamerson's bass playing is for me.

    Finally in an orchestra for almost a year now, which has been super challenging. But it's also a blast, and carrying the bottom end of an orchestra (or, in my case, helping to carry) feels incredible.
  20. The baddest of the bad....wild how he got all of that out of one finger... Chuck rainey is another one finger wonder that had an unreal feel and groove. Was at some function in the late 70's in L.A. where Chuck showed a few of us how he did what he did...amazing and feel for days and days no years:D