Friday, August 7, 2015

5 on Friday -- Set 278

Spinning Friday tunes since 2010...

For anyone who wants to join in, simply choose five pieces of music and post them for other bloggers to enjoy. Then check out the set posted by the other 5 on Friday blogger -- you can sign in over at Golch Central's Rambling Stuff.

This year I've been taking a once-a-month look at specific instruments and showcasing five songs or tunes which place that instrument front and center.

This year's feature is called Spotlight On...

...and for our eighth installment, I'm transitioning from percussion to rhythm. We began the year listening to the primal body instruments of hand-clapping, whistling and vocal harmonies. Moving on, we explored percussion with April's look at drums, May's look at the vibraphone or vibes, June's look at piano, and wrapping things up with cowbell in July.

For August let's listen to one of my favorite instruments -- bass guitar.

The bass is a stringed instrument, yet its function is to anchor the groove of the music alongside the more obvious percussive sibling, the drums. Bass players often use percussion techniques such as slapping the strings, popping them (a more aggressive plucking) or thumping, as well as playing the strings as would a lead guitarist. 

1 - Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey - The Beatles - 1968

This song is extra groovey, with handclaps, bell and other smaller percussion instruments shared out by The Beatles. Paul McCartney totally rocks out on bass with this track.

2 - Reach Out I'll Be There - The Four Tops -1966

The bass player on this track is the one, the only James Jamerson.

"A true session giant, Jamerson has played on over 30 number one records, laid down stone cold grooves for the biggest artists Motown, soul and funk could throw at him, and has influenced scores of bass players from all genres of music." -- Claire Davies, MusicRadar 

What is a session musician? These are working musicians who are in demand for recording sessions or live performances, but who do not permanently join a particular group.

Being a session musician generally means more stability as far as residence, because there is less need to tour the country or head out internationally. The session musician builds a reputation locally and becomes the go-to instrumentalist when other acts come to town. This gives the musician the added benefit of playing in many musical styles and alongside a vast array of fellow musicians.

3 - Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) - Sly and the Family Stone - 1969

I hope you've been busy groovin' to these tunes. Get ready to cut loose with the slapping funk of Larry Graham, who is credited as the originator of this technique. 

4 - Come On, Come Over - Jaco Pastorius featuring Sam and Dave - 1976

This is a fairly tame, more accessible tune from a legendary bass player. He was already teaching bass at the University of Miami at the age of 22. His self-titled debut album coaxed Sam and Dave to reunite just so they could work with him. He played for Weather Report from 1976 - 81, leaving to work on a myriad of solo projects, collaborations and session work. He passed away at the young age of 35 after years of erratic behavior and deteriorating health, a direct result of mental illness.

Jaco Pastorius was loved by family and friends, and revered by his fellow musicians. His death is a simple yet sober reminder that the grip of mental illness can be stronger than the best support system, stronger than the remedies available, stronger even than the burning flame burning inside the person who lives with this type of chronic condition. 

As an added bonus for this week's set, here's a far more typical example of Jaco Pastorius' groundbreaking bass playing. He was incredibly influential, pushing the bass to new levels with his lyrical style and use of harmonics.

Continuum - 1976

5 - Hysteria - Muse - 2003

Stepping away from the funkier tracks to some rock bass playing, here is Christopher Wolstenholme of Muse with a base line voted 6th best bass line of all time by MusicRadar.