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James Jamerson on You Tube

August 22, 2007

This is the only video I could find of James Jamerson — he’s accompanying Marvin Gaye on What’s Going On. What a fantastically HIP bass player. As I said in an earlier post, he shows his jazz influence by playing a very subtle bass part — and yes, that’s within the confines of a relatively simple harmonic structure. All this yet the part fits beautifully and doesn’t intrude on the vocal. Wonderful!

However, this live performance is marred by an uninspired piano solo from Marvin Gaye. This solo would never have made it onto a studio recording and would have been edited out — and rightfully so.

Furthermore, James looks a little like he’s going through the motions, but the genius and wonderful technique is still there. I note from watching his fretwork how MUCH of the range of the instrument he covers — this makes for a full, expansive sound which still has a subtlety about it. I love it!


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