Emily King — Good Friend

Good Friend is one of those gems you can find if you follow your Discover Weekly list on Spotify religiously. I knew Emily King from another song called Distance that was transcribed and covered by Pedro Zappa. Despite that, I never looked into her album called The Switch until Spotify listed Good Friend.

There are a few interesting bits about the bassline, the electric synth sound which was played by Mike Lavalle using an original Novation Bass Station, the slightly awkward and sustaining chopped-off rhythm and those nice, tasty fills. To recreate that sound I resorted to a Markbass MB Octaver which is a discontinued, faithful copy of the venerable BOSS OC-2. But I am GASing for a Novation Bass Station II now for a while already.

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Dire Straits — Your Latest Trick

I have never been a fan of the Dire Straits and until a month ago I knew nothing besides the fact that they wrote Sultans of Swing and Mark Knopfler is their guitar player. Well that changed after this month’s SBL Cover Challenge which featured the song Your Latest Trick from the album Brothers in Arms. What caught me by surprise was the relatively complex chord progression, the anticipated note motif and the nice little fills by bass player John Illsley. To my surprise, I could not find a good transcription …

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J Dilla — Gangsta Boogie

Both Questlove and D’Angelo cite J Dilla (born James Yancey) to be a visionary and an eye opener. He single-handedly invented the sloppy, slugging behind-the-beat feel that is now considered a staple typical for Neo Soul, Fusion and Hip Hop acts. Rumours say it happened by accident, when the samples were not aligned “correctly” to the beat grid but shifted ever so slightly. In a video, Questlove explains how he had to unlearn the rhythmic tightness and precision he acquired over the years in order to achieve the musical ideas of D’Angelo based on J Dilla’s beats.

Unfortunately, J Dilla died early in 2006 on a rare condition. However instead of giving in, he produced his final solo album The Diary lying in a hospital bed. Off of that album, Gangsta Boogie is a prime example for the aforementioned style, which a transcription hardly can capture.

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Avishai Cohen — Calm

Avishai Cohen alongside Christian McBride is my favorite contemporary upright bassist. Unlike McBride, he has developed a very particular sound and approach to music, mixing modern Jazz with Latin and middle eastern influences. In the past, he became famous being the bass player for the Chick Corea band but since then made a huge impact with his own group and trio work.

Calm is a song from Cohen’s Continuo album featuring Sam Barsh playing keys (coincidently, he also appears on Anderson .Paak’s Malibu) and Mark Guiliana on drums. Compared to most other tracks, Calm has a relatively simple bassline and is driven mostly by arpeggios played by the piano.

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José James — Trouble

José James and this particular track was one of those gems that I found in my weekly discovery list on Spotify. Thanks Spotify! Anyway, José James is a former Jazz singer who turned to a more RnB and Neo-Soul style with his Blue Note debut record No Beginning No End which contains also features the track Trouble. To get an idea about the entire record and James’ past as well, I highly recommend you to check out the review Pursuing Many Paths to Find His Own in the New York Times.

I have no verification, but the bass on this track might come from the venerable Pino Palladino. The track features a J Dillaesque laid back rhythm during the main riff that is played by drums and bass. In the verse the rhythm becomes a bit more straight while the chorus incorporates nice eighth note anticipations. Unlike most RnB and Soul which tends to be harmonically simple, Trouble features an interesting almost Jazz-like chord progression over four different parts.

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