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Groove Of The Week #52: Jamiroquai – ‘Manifest Destiny’

Stuart’s Second Helping We’ve already heard from Jamiroquai twice in this series (GOTW #8: ‘Whatever It Is, I Just Can’t Stop’ and GOTW #22: ‘Runaway’) and – as much as…

Stuart’s Second Helping

We’ve already heard from Jamiroquai twice in this series (GOTW #8: ‘Whatever It Is, I Just Can’t Stop’ and GOTW #22: ‘Runaway’) and – as much as I want this series to be as wide-ranging as possible – it’s fair to say that some bands have a disproportionate amount of ‘what was that?’ bass moments in their back catalogue. So, here we are with another piece of Stuart Zender’s bass legacy, taken from the band’s second album The Return of the Space Cowboy (1994).

‘Manifest Destiny’ might seem an odd choice for a Groove Of The Week post; it’s not really a groove in the traditional sense of the word, and there are plenty of other Jamiroquai tracks worth a look (‘Don’t Give Hate a Chance’, anyone?), but Stuart Zender’s bassline showcases a rare opportunity for us to present a melody in the upper register of the fretboard without venturing into bass solo territory – we’re still playing a set part and supporting the song.

The video lesson below walks through the melody and harmony of ‘Manifest Destiny’ bar-by-bar:

For those of us that spend 99% of our time below the seventh fret, where most day-to-day bass playing happens, being given a melodic spotlight moment can be daunting; the bass can feel very different in the higher register, and I find that the fretting hand has to be extra vigilant in order to sculpt every single note with the desired effect. ‘Manifest Destiny’ is also an excellent study in fretting hand articulation – the way that the notes are played holds equal importance as the notes themselves. Careful listening will help you to discern the subtle ways that Stuart Zender uses varied note lengths, slides, hammer-ons and vibrato to make the line really sing out.

The harmony of ‘Manifest Destiny’ is also a level above most pop songs; this is to be expected the clear influence of 1970s jazz-funk artists including Roy Ayers, Stevie Wonder, Lonnie Liston Smith and The Headhunters that shine through in Jamiroquai’s music. The main harmonic accompaniment to the bass melody comes from the piano, which keeps an almost consistent voicing in the right hand while the changing bass notes provide movement:

Approximated piano voicings for ‘Manifest Destiny’

The third chord voicing is worth a mention – the piano plays a chord which is essentially Bm7/E, which creates an Em11 tonality when taken into context with the G natural in the bass part at this point.

Diminishing Returns

The A# diminished 7 chord works in this context because it’s really functioning as a substitution for F#7, the dominant chord in the key of B minor. Thinking about the chord tones of A# diminished 7 in the context of F#7 gives us the major 3rd (A#), perfect 5th (C#), minor 7th (E) and flat 9th (G natural), implying an F#7b9 sound. Using this diminished substitution provides more the chord progression with more tension (and therefore more interest) than using a straightforward dominant 7th chord.

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Groove Of The Week #26: Jackie Wilson – ‘Higher and Higher’

This installment of Groove Of The Week features possibly the shortest, most repetitive and least varied bass groove to date – it’s also one of the most important. One bar….

This installment of Groove Of The Week features possibly the shortest, most repetitive and least varied bass groove to date – it’s also one of the most important.

One bar. Over and over. Minimal variations. No fills. No frills.

Boring, right?

Wrong.

Consistency is the number one trait that will get you hired time and time again (punctuality and above-average personal hygiene should also be high up in your ‘skill set’). What do I mean by consistency?

Playing a line in time at the same volume and with the same articulation for 4-5 minutes without ceasing (extend this to 25 minutes if you’re playing ‘Chameleon’ at a jam night).

Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to do well. Put down your slap licks and your string crossing exercises and challenge yourself to play James Jamerson’s sublime D major groove without deviating in any way whatsoever from the original line.

Ok, there’s ONE variation in the video. Sue me.

Here are the dots. The sharp-eyed (and keen-eared) among you will recognise this as THE staple ‘Motown/soul major chord’ 1-5-6 lick heard on just about every soul tune ever; ‘Keep On Running’, ‘Respect’,’Love Really Hurts Without You’, ‘Faith’, ‘What’s Going On’ (octave displacement), ‘I Want You Back’ and ‘Rescue Me’ are just a few off the top of my head.

GOTW Higher and Higher

This is one of Jamerson’s most famous lines that doesn’t feature any of his much lauded chromaticism. In fact, it sounds like he’s on his best behaviour. If you don’t already, rush out this instant and get a copy of the ‘Standing In The Shadows Of Motown’ book which features note-for-note transcriptions of lots of JJ’s parts and interviews with lots of amazing players on how his playing influenced them.

As a geeky aside, ‘Higher and Higher’ was recorded in Chicago by Jamerson and the other Funk Brothers while they were moonlighting from Motown – they would often drive over from Detroit and do ‘undercover’ sessions to augment their pay from Berry Gordy’s label. Not bad for something knocked up on your day off. 

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Groove Of The Week #25: Jocelyn Brown – ‘Somebody Else’s Guy’

The site has overgone a major (and long overdue) facelift over the past few weeks – thank you for being patient during the downtime. The goal is to roll out…

The site has overgone a major (and long overdue) facelift over the past few weeks – thank you for being patient during the downtime. The goal is to roll out lots of new content over the coming months including video lessons, instructional books and plenty of new bass transcriptions.

All of the original transcriptions and blog posts from the previous version of the site should still be intact – if you find that anything is missing, broken or just looks plain wrong then please shout at me.

I’m acutely aware that the Groove Of The Week series is woefully behind schedule, so let’s get back to it.

Groove Of The Week #25: Jocelyn Brown – ‘Somebody Else’s Guy’

A while ago we examined the groove on Bruno Mars’ ‘Treasure’, which featured frequent alternation between fingerstyle playing and popping. This ‘half-slap’ style of playing can be troublesome initially as it requires you to quickly change between two techniques that require your right hand to be at completely different angles.

Personally, I feel that it’s worth persevering with the ‘half-slap’ as it offers a (marginally) more subtle alternative to conventional slap bass playing and requires less EQ-twiddling to get it to work in a live environment.

GOTW - Somebody elses guy

In spite of lots of googling, I couldn’t find accurate credits for who actually played bass on the original. If anyone knows for sure then leave a comment below and I’ll do you a FREE TRANSCRIPTION of your choice*

 

 

 

*Within reason. No Rush, please (not because their stuff is difficult,  I just can’t STAND Geddy Lee). Ditto for Dream Theater.

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Late To The Party… Youtube Play Alongs and Lessons

As promised some years ago, I’m FINALLY getting round to going back through the transcription archive on the site and making corrections – thanks to those sharp-eared subscribers who’ve been…

As promised some years ago, I’m FINALLY getting round to going back through the transcription archive on the site and making corrections – thanks to those sharp-eared subscribers who’ve been kind enough to point out some glaring errors in some of my charts!

I’m also in the process of finishing off a backlog of half-finished transcriptions (my Sibelius folder has around 600 unfinished files in it, so be patient!) which will be posted over the coming months.

Last but not least I’ve finally hit the red button on my camera and started making Youtube videos – these will include lessons, play alongs of transcriptions and footage from gigs and studio work. If there’s anything specific that you’d like to see included in these videos then let me know by commenting on this post.

I’ll be adding play alongs of the 10 most popular transcriptions on the site to help clarify fingerings and position shifts. First up is Jerry Jemmott’s part on Aretha Franklin’s ‘I Say A Little Prayer’:

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Groove Of The Week #20: McFadden & Whitehead – ‘Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now’

Inspiration often strikes in the strangest of places. Earlier this year I had a rare Saturday night off from gigging and was at a friend’s wedding reception when I heard…

Inspiration often strikes in the strangest of places. Earlier this year I had a rare Saturday night off from gigging and was at a friend’s wedding reception when I heard ‘Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now’ for the first time in years. Jimmy Williams’ slick groove has to be one of the smoothest basslines in the history of disco:

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Groove Of The Week #19: Tool – ‘Forty Six & 2’

Metal is one genre of music that most people don’t associate with the word ‘groove’, but this series of posts is designed to explore the low end from a variety…

Metal is one genre of music that most people don’t associate with the word ‘groove’, but this series of posts is designed to explore the low end from a variety of sources and expose readers to bassists, basslines and techniques that they might not have encountered before.

Tool’s ‘Forty Six & 2’, taken from their breakthrough album Aenima (1996) is anchored by Justin Chancellor’s hypnotic bass riff, which is played with a plectrum and features a pedal point provided by the open D string combined with hammer-ons and pull-offs:

If you’re not used to playing with a pick (or simply reluctant to use one) then this a good introduction to plectrum technique.
The key to executing this line smoothly is strict alternation of down and upstrokes with the pick (every note on the D string is a downstroke, every picked note on the G string is an upstroke).

GOTW Forty Six 2 copy

It’s worth noting that plectrums are not solely reserved for metal, punk or rock playing – it’s entirely possible to play funk with a pick (as we’ve seen in a previous post featuring Anthony Jackson).

I’m still amazed by many bassists’ resistance to using a pick and the prevalence of ‘pick vs fingers’ discussions on bass forums – the choice of fingers or plectrum should be determined by the tone that you want from your bass rather than what your technique obligates you to do. Neither is superior, it purely depends on which is more appropriate for the music that you’re playing.

If you’re still in the anti-plectrum camp, then I strongly urge you to spend a week listening to Bobby Vega play and then see if your opinion hasn’t changed:

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