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Standing in the Shadows of Motown: The Life and Music of Legendary Bassist James Jamerson Paperback – May 1, 1989


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 191 pages
  • Publisher: Hal Leonard; Pap/Com edition (May 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881888826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881888829
  • Product Dimensions: 12.1 x 9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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...I will be by the time I finish this book!
Eartheaterrr
An excellent guide to be used by any bass player seeking insight to the playing style of James Jamersons.
Stu Nankin
The bio section of the book is an interesting read as well.
R. Duarte

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

101 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Robert C. Rogers on May 1, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book and CD combination examines the music of James Jamerson, the studio bassist on most of the early Motown hits. Until rather recently, Jamerson was unknown to the general public and not widely known to musicians. Nonetheless, his playing was very influential and many bassists today consider his playing the gold standard of bass guitar in popular music.
This book is valuable as a reference for the history of Motown, but it is primarily a teaching tool. It is organized into three parts. The first 78 pages give a biography of Jamerson and put his work into historical context. Part two (17 pages) is a compilation of data: descriptions of bass equipment, recording facilities, accompanists, and discography. Also included in this section is a four page "Appreciation of Style" by Anthony Jackson that attempts to analyze the musical elements that made Jamerson unique. Part three contains 90 pages of transcriptions of Jamerson bass lines and accompanying text. The transcriptions go with the CDs described below.
The CDs and transcriptions are the heart of the set. The CDs feature Motown tunes with the bass lines played by over two dozen "all-star" bassists (e.g Marcus Miller, Jack Bruce, John Entwistle). Bass is on the left channel with instrumental accompaniment on the right. The bass lines are transcribed by the author and the transcriptions are accompanied by short bios of the artists who play the lines. The tracks on the CDs are interspersed with short interviews of people who knew Jamerson. The artists reportedly donated their services as a tribute to Jamerson and the bass lines and accompaniment were recorded in a variety of circumstances. Many tracks are recorded in home studios. The quality varies, but all tracks are well played and all are useful teaching tools.
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66 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Mark Wieczorek on July 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
While at one time he was simply known as "The Motown Bassist" to thousands of aspiring bass players around the world, including more famous and world class bass players than you can imagine, James Jamerson is now a legend of immense proportions. If you don't know who Jamerson is by now then you simply must get this book.
If you do know who James Jamerson is, then this book is a no brainer. Quite possibly the most influential musician of the past 50 years. If it weren't for him, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and countless of others in the rock and r&b genres wouldn't sound the way they do.
The biography is compelling and I read it straight through over a several hour period when I first received this book. The lessons are difficult, and definately not for the beginner.
For a beginner who wants to learn classic R&B style bass playing I'd reccomend the Duck Dunn book (What Duck Done) followed by the James Brown book (Funkmasters). Donald "Duck" Dunn was the house player at Stax and has also played on countless classics from Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and many other Memphis Soul artists. More recently he's played with The Blues Brothers and even Neil Young. His lines are much more straightfoward than Jamersons and are easier to learn. When you get through that book you can go on to Funkmasters and learn some classic James Brown grooves.
Finally, when you've graduated from those books you can take a crack at the Jamerson book, though I think it should be on your shelf from day 1 to give you inspiration, and so you can listen to the tracks with the bass prominently mixed. Just to get it into your ears, so to speak. You might also hear a Motown tune you think you can pick up and will want to reference this book.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Michael on May 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
I owned this book once before some years ago, and, unfortunately, after my fellow bassist got "hip" to it being on my shelf, it disappeared. While I was happy to pass on the knowledge of James Jamerson's work to others, several days ago, I realized this is a "must have" for anyone serious about learning the art of developing fluid, yet inventive and distinctive bass lines. Hence, I have purchased another copy. Even a cursory analysis of the material presented in this book reveals that Jamerson was a master of the unexpected and the beautiful with regard to not only rhythm, but also harmony (check out his use of "passing" tones!). It also was enlightening to learn the depth of his musical background, including his work on the double bass - some of which occurs on his Motown work. Although my own tastes tend to lean toward "free jazz," James Jamerson's work, as presnted here, reminded me that the music - no matter what genre - always must be infused with the pulse of life to truly move people and transform the world.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Leibovitz on June 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
To comprehend James Jamerson's work, listen to the beautiful bass lines of the hits. Whether you're a student of bass or a seasoned player, playing those lines is no easy task! "Bernadette", "Reach Out",.... Envigorating sounds! Jamerson's story is here. Hear re-creations of his work minus vocals by the best of the best of today's bass players. Most of the sheet music is included!
Sitting without tribute, quietly and anonymously in the audience at the Motown 25th anniversary TV special performance in California, Jamerson had been akin to the elder Indian in the old "Keep America Beautiful" TV ad who sheds a tear with grief at the spoiling of his pristine land. This book was a great first step at righting that wrong.
This book went on to inspire a similarly titled movie on the Funk Brothers. This book and the 2 CDs that accompany it are a one-of-a-kind find for the bassists and all who crave the Motown and soul sound of the sixties and seventies. Thanks to its author for assembling the treasures and for inspiring such good will in the music community!
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