Watch an Animated Visualization of the Bass Line for the Motown Classic, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”

Jamer­son is the Schoen­berg of get­ting from the I chord to the IV chord. He’s algo­rith­mi­cal­ly gen­er­at­ing a new pat­tern every phrase…[He] belongs with Bach, Debussy and Mozart.

- Jack Strat­ton

Side­man James Jamer­son, Paul McCartney’s musi­cal hero and a co-author of the Motown sound, is a great illus­tra­tion of the bass’ impor­tance in pop and R&B his­to­ry.

He kept a funky beat for such artists as Ste­vie Won­der, Martha and the Van­del­las, Mar­vin Gaye, and the Supremes. His low notes helped the har­monies sing.

Jack Strat­ton, leader of the mod­ern Amer­i­can funk band, Vulf­peck, named Jamer­son to his Holy Trin­i­ty of Bass, along with Chic’s Bernard Edwards and Sly and the Fam­i­ly Stone’s Lar­ry Gra­ham.

(Joe Dart, Vulfpeck’s bassist, is a pret­ty hot tick­et too.)

Strat­ton’s rev­er­ence extend­ed to a side project in which he visu­al­ly plots some of Jamerson’s savoriest base­lines.

Check out the crag­gy peaks and val­leys on Mar­vin Gaye & Tam­mi Ter­rel­l’s famous ren­di­tion of Ash­ford & Simpson’s “Ain’t No Moun­tain High Enough,” above.

No won­der it’s the most lis­tened to iso­lat­ed bass track on No Tre­ble, the online mag­a­zine for bass play­ers.

All togeth­er now:

Stratton’s visu­al­iza­tions of the Jame­son lines for Ste­vie Wonder’s “I Was Made to Love Her” and “For Once In My Life” are pret­ty mes­mer­iz­ing too.

Learn more about Jamerson’s high­ly influ­en­tial bass tech­nique in Dr. Lick’s Stand­ing in the Shad­ows of Motown: The Life and Music of Leg­endary Bassist James Jamer­son.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

What Made John Entwistle One of the Great Rock Bassists? Hear Iso­lat­ed Tracks from “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “Baba O’Riley” & “Pin­ball Wiz­ard”

What Makes Flea Such an Amaz­ing Bass Play­er? A Video Essay Breaks Down His Style

The Sto­ry of the Bass: New Video Gives Us 500 Years of Music His­to­ry in 8 Min­utes

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Her solo show Nurse!, in which one of Shakespeare’s best loved female char­ac­ters hits the lec­ture cir­cuit to set the record straight pre­mieres in June at The Tank in New York City. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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