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What's a bass for?

There’s many things a bass can do. Carol Kaye’s version is, perhaps, old school in the sense that the music she played (plays) speaks a harmonic language that current pieces no longer have. Her discography is extremely sobering. It’s interesting to put her approach next to McCartney’s, who does speak a similar language but has a melodic sense unparalleled.

Then we have Jaco and Victor. But before that we had Bootsy -- who lays down the funk-o-meter rule like a sly dog. But all three owe a ton to Jamerson and they know (knew) it.

One thing is for sure: the bass has the word 'ass' in it for a reason.



Bootsy funk lesson -- could this, possibly, be everything one could ever need to know? I have to ask my myself "why is the Funk NEVER on the grid?" Here is the answer -- part of it is, part of it ain't.




Bootsy in action




James Jamerson with Mavin Gaye  "Ain't No Mountain HIgher", isloated bassline




James Jamerson, with the Jackson Five



Paul McCartney, "With a Little Help From My Friends", isolated bassline




Carol Kaye - dancing circles around the harmony




Jaco, can dead white guys be funky? -- check out the bassline in the 2nd chorus at: 1:58



Victor Wooten "Amazing Grace" -- check out him retuning on the fly in order to keep the harmonics intune. (Thanks for John Hendow for making me aware of this one.)



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Reader Comments (13)

Thanks for sharing. Especially James Jamerson, what an amazing player. I knew the sound but never had heard of him. Boy, could he play. A sad story according to his wikipedia entry. He was pretty influential to a lot of people. He had the groove

March 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Ever since the Beatles remasters came out I have been playing an interesting game called "What would Carol Kaye have played?".

March 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

JJ's dirty, never changed them flatwounds put the analog dirt into the pulse and like the best reggae players he knew where to place the silence.
Macca usually put the bass in last and plodded around a melody to see where the song needed support and bounce. His parts like Chris Squire's and John Paul Jones' are often melodic and so satisfying alone.
Jaco found the mid-tonal pocket to step out burp, fart and joyously dance all around the tune.
CK is the guru of chord understanding and setting out the supportive melody of the plucked for film bass.
Victor plays the piano and drums on his bass.
Today so much athleticism passes for music. or perhaps an audience sleeps until a player pushes past the limits like a sprinter or marathon runner.
oh and Trey wonders what the outer limits are- where sound silence noise meet and make love as music.

March 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterluap

Awesome, I'm a guitar player who loves the bass, but, a doubt remains in my head Trey, are you a bass or guitar player??? : ))))))
I guess both , huh?


PS: how could we not love Jaco?????? And miss him............ :/

March 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHucasys

Hey Trey i just wanted to say thank you for the awesome post, these guys are masters on the art of groove for sure, Victor is gonna be playing in a couple of days here in mexico city so im pretty excited about that, i just saw the stick men a couple of days ago and i was amazed, i hope to see you again playing live soon, last time i saw you was with the proyect KTU and is one of the best shows i´ve ever seen.
Take care and cheers from México city.

March 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdavid

Seeing Carol kaye is a shock, never heard about her before, and it´s amazing her simplicity and directedness...make me realize again that I know nothing, and reinforces my wish to learn. Thanks for the videos

March 10, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteralainpinero

That is a great post.
There is a lot of people that do not know how mach the bass guitar is necesry on the band, and thouse videos are amazingly show it

March 10, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteror keynan

for me - you are the best bass player Trey

March 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteremerwu


Regarding the Victor Wooten clip- there is one who played Amazing Grace LONG before Wooten. His name is Chris Squire. Look him up on youtube... Besides AG, he has done a ton for getting the Electric Bass Guitar out there!


March 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDavid G Johnstone

I don't think it's very interesting what instrument you're playing and what role it has in traditional sense. I'm more focusing on the sound of it and what/how you play it. We would not have all those icon musicians today if they where working on keeping the music in status quo. I do respect those musicians though, who keep up the traditon too, so we don't forget what we evolved from.

March 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLennart

My baby and I were watching the Bootsy. And she said "Everbody sharing!" That is the essence of groove.

April 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterErik Weissengruber

And it´s amazing her simplicity and directedness...make me realize again that I know nothing, and reinforces my wish to learn. Thanks for the videos. academic papers | Essay writing | Term Paper writing

October 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjoshua2930

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