Wednesday, April 15, 2009

'Don't Blame Your Paintbrush' Dept.

He wasn't a visual artist, but he was inarguably one of the most influential bass players of the past half century. His name was James Jamerson, and if you haven't heard of him, it's because he was an anonymous session musician whose work was mostly uncredited. But you've definitely heard him, since he contributed his distinctive sound to all your favorite '60s Motown hits: Four Tops, Temptations, Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the list goes on.

(Jamerson was among those profiled in the Detroit Free Press's 50th anniversary salute to Motown Records.)

Reading an old interview with him recently called to mind the ongoing fascination we all have with the latest video technology:

"Bass players call from all over," he revealed, "wanting to know what type of equipment I use, what type of bass, what kind of strings -- things like that. I'll tell them, but that's not what's important; it's the feel. The strings don't make the sound, it's the feel. It's all in here, in the heart."

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