James Lee Jamerson

SoulfulDetroit.com FORUM: Archive - After July 12, 2003: James Lee Jamerson
Top of pageBottom of page   By The Cool Jerk ( on Sunday, August 03, 2003 - 11:41 am:

About when, did the writers and producers at Motown, stop writing basslines for Jamerson and just tell him "Jamerson, do your thing!"?

Top of pageBottom of page   By Sue ( on Sunday, August 03, 2003 - 11:52 am:


One of the Funk Brothers, not sure if it was Jack or Uriel or who, was joking about how tough a producer Valerie Simpson was. They said she wrote out her music, and she was serious, she wanted no deviation from it. Jamerson was doing some particularly tasty but busy licks, and I guess all five feet of Valerie stomped over to him and said "That's very nice James, but please just play the notes I wrote ..."

So I don't think you can generalize that at a certain point he just did what he wanted. The producers at Motown all had such different working styles. I'm sure Marvin Gaye let him do whatever moved him.

Top of pageBottom of page   By SisDetroit ( on Sunday, August 03, 2003 - 12:21 pm:

Mr. Wendal idolizes Valerie Simpson, as well as Jamerson.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ralph ( on Sunday, August 03, 2003 - 12:50 pm:

And because many of those great bass lines were written out, one must give extreme props to the arranger and producer.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Eli ( on Sunday, August 03, 2003 - 12:56 pm:

Man, I would have loved to have seen those charts!!
Those bass parts probably looked like "fly s**t'!!
And when J.J. interpreted those parts as only he could, as paulie would aay.."fagetaboutit"!!

Top of pageBottom of page   By JoB ( on Monday, August 04, 2003 - 04:59 am:

I agree, Bobby...I am a novice to the bass, and listening to his bass lines on all of those songs gives me a LOT to try and live up to...I've been getting a lot better recently, but sometimes when I hear a particularly tricky Jamerson line, I think to myself, "...ain't no way on EARTH..."

Top of pageBottom of page   By Sue ( on Monday, August 04, 2003 - 10:28 am:

And of course, if you haven't got a copy of Allan Slutsky's book about Jamerson, "Standing in the Shadows of Motown," do get it. It'll answer a lot of questions ...

I still have the copy with the cassette. I need to upgrade!

Top of pageBottom of page   By john c ( on Monday, August 04, 2003 - 03:11 pm:

The SITSOM Book has some of the original written out bass lines which you can compare to what Jamerson actually ended up playing. The point I'd like to make is the book is a great read for anyone, even if you don't play bass! And the CD's help you hear the bass lines that are hard to hear on the original recordings. Once you get them in your head, you can hear them better on the original.

On the SITSOM soundtrack, the Jamerson Bernadette solo track until the end is a different take than the released Four Tops recording. Compare the two and you will find that the two takes are similar in style but totally different. Both sound great. This is pretty good evidence that Jamerson improvised quite a bit.

My one small complaint on the book/CD is I wish each commentary and song on the CD had it's own individual track assignment. As it is, each contributor's commentary and songs are combined on one track.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Dennis Coffey ( on Monday, August 04, 2003 - 06:42 pm:

Hello everyone. Valerie Simpson had some of the most complicated musical arrangments but they were fun to play once you learned the parts. She was one of the first producers to list the musicians on her albums at Motown. Jamerson usually had written parts just like the rest of us. I used to wonder about that. When I used him on my albums, I wrote the parts that needed to be played with the group and gave him chord sheets for the rest of the songs.

Top of pageBottom of page   By John Barry Sheffield ( on Thursday, August 07, 2003 - 08:42 am:

It is such a True "Gift" to be able to share in these experiences with such as Bobbi and Dennis, and to get to know more about the "Great" like James - a "True" Thanks Guys, when You have grown up with your music, it is something we could never have dreamed about or I know I never would have dreamed.

Big ThanX Guy's it means so much........


England UK

Top of pageBottom of page   By Dennis Coffey ( on Thursday, August 07, 2003 - 06:04 pm:

Hey John. You are welcome! I was glad to have worked with so many talented people. Hey Bobby speaking of fly S**t. One day at Golden World during a session I arranged with Mike Theodore, we wrote out Babbitt's bass part in 64th notes. Poor Bob was busting a gut trying to play the part. I think he even swung back and knocked out a chunk of the studio wall with his head trying to play those notes. When we told him they were bogus parts and gave him the real parts, he was not happy. And when Babbitt was not happy that could be a cause for concern. He eventually started laughing and we completed the session. Those were the days.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Conrad72 ( on Friday, August 08, 2003 - 08:08 am:

Now THAT is funny! I just received a complilation of 70's funk/soul instrumentals and there is a version of "Scorpio" by ??? (can't remember the group name right now). Anyway the bass solo lasts about 20 seconds before the guy realizes what he's up against and hands it over to the drummer.

Top of pageBottom of page   By fenderpbass66 ( on Friday, August 08, 2003 - 01:30 pm:

On September 18 & 19, 2003, the City of Charleston South Carolina will pay tribute to one of their sons, James Jamerson.
There is a website which will have all the details, however, it has not been updated yet. When that occurs, I will post the link here.

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