Episode 025: The Genius of Jamerson, Part 2

Dave and Paul continue their two-part conversation on emulating the singular influence of James Jamerson.

Music: JahzzarPlease Listen CarefullyspinningmerkabaUrbana-Metronica (wooh-yeah mix).

Show notes

How do you handle covering Motown and the songs Jamerson played? Any special considerations?

  • Check out the first part of this conversation!
  • Dave:
    • I have a tough time because it’s not so patterned. Tough to “fake it”
    • I try to think of what the bass line does conceptually for me
      • Plays around the one, lines that leave you hanging then pull you back
      • Mostly, I feel like he always plays around the melody and mood
      • Ex: Gapevine – Ain’t no maountain (valley deep)
    • Warm & punchy – nicely deadened strings
    • Somehow simulating the one finger technique
  • Paul:
    • First, gotta have the P bass! Something about it makes you want to play more like Jamerson
    • Last year I fulfilled a dream and got an original 1961 Ampeg B-15N… I love playing through it at home when I’m in a Motown mood
      • But interestingly, almost everything on the records you hear was through a DI in the Motown studio. They didn’t have great mics for recording bass back then
    • I try and use some of his moves like bouncing around root-five-octave; for uptempo songs he played fairly “busy” lines

Any other points?

  • Dave:
    • There really is something to be said about his one finger technique and the evenness that’s so subtle, but big
    • I always think that he represents everything dance in regard to bass writing
  • Paul:
    • There are some cool videos from Vulfpeck where you can see Jamerson’s lines represented graphically, will include a few of my favorites in show notes

Photo by Ole Bendik Kvisberg.

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