Another Motor City Master

What have they been putting in the water in Detroit? The home of Motown has produced a number of bass greats. Aside from James Jamerson, the city has spawned an impressive roster of low-end greats including (but certainly not limited to): Paul Chambers, Nate Watts, Ralphe Armstrong, Deon Estus, Alan ‘Snoop’ Evans and Allen McGrier. McGrier is best known for his stellar bass work with the late Teena Marie, for whom he provided numerous catchy lines (‘Young Love’ and ‘Irons in the Fire’ are two great examples).

‘Square Biz’ showcases Allen McGrier’s thumb work in a supportive, non-flashy setting – the focus here is on pocket rather than pyrotechnics. The song is anchored by one main groove that serves as the introduction, verse, chorus, and breakdown sections; everything in the line is common slap vocabulary aside from beat 4 of bar 2, which has McGrier bending the E-string to give the line some extra attitude.

Just because the line is pushed doesn’t mean that you have to rush things, which is a common problem when playing slap grooves. If in doubt, start at half tempo and make sure it grooves before bringing the speed up. And remember to breathe!

Teena Marie – ‘Square Biz’ bass transcription PDF