Nineteen Days of Bass

Today’s entry (and I must start with an apology: I missed yesterday so I’ll offer two selections today to get back on schedule) is as straight forward a pick to highlight the role the bass player performs in the rock era that I can think of. But once listened to, you realize that the sound is anything but straight forward. The groove, when nailed down this tight, is repetitive but it’s also on which everything can be built and under which everything plays in accordance to. In short, it’s both the most base level rhythm device in the background, while strangely, simultaneously being the lead driving force. To use an analogy, it’s both the cars engine, the enigmatic driver behind the wheel, and the showy curves that draw the flashbulbs at the auto show.

As such, great players are often unknown people, known only by avid aficionados or other bass players, but also people with extensive careers and highly signature artistic styles. Of the type few can claim the career of the great Jerry Jemmott. His trademark work was as a Kingpin in King Curtis’ Kingpins, forever finding his groove next to equally legendary Bernard ‘Purty Boy’ Purdie’s ‘fat back’ drums, but countless session work outlines his much copied and referenced style.

Nothing additional really needs to be said, a listen is all that is necessary. The studio single (above) is great, but live (below) the band locked into a groove for the ages. It’s bass as the unstoppable force; bubbling and sliding, provoking and exhilarating. After listening to this track countless times over the years, perhaps the immediate thought I conjure is how can that just be half a teaspoon? Certainly seems at least the entire box.

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