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Bass Transcription: Anthony Jackson’s Bass Line on Michel Camilo’s “We Three”

Anthony Jackson’s Bass Line on Michel Camilo’s “We Three"

Anthony Jackson is one of the most versatile bass players in the music scene and a real innovator in the 6-string bass (or contrabass guitar) that he developed in the seventies. He is known as a session musician working with artists like Diane Ross, Chaka Khan, Steely Dan, and Steve Khan, but he made a very important body of work with the Michael Camilo Trio. The album Suntan is one of the best records of this trio along with Rendezvous, Triangulo, Thru My Eyes, Why Not?, and One More Once.

Here is a bit about the creation of Suntan from an AllMusic Review by Ron Wynn:

“Pianist Michel Camilo did some intensive recording for the Japanese Suntan label over a two-day period in 1986. These five selections were in a trio format with Dave Weckl and Joel Rosenblatt alternating on drums and Jackson on bass throughout. Camilo displayed the Afro-Latin and Latin jazz side of his keyboard personality with slashing, attacking rhythms and phrases. I have sacrificed some of his celebrated speed and thought more about ideas, pace, melodies, and harmonic creativity. Camilo’s playing emerged as dominant as Jackson was content to work off his leads, and both drummers were equally willing to interact rather than try to influence the music’s direction. As a result, Camilo got the chance to demonstrate his full range and did so in a workmanlike, effective manner.”

“We Three” opens the album with a very festive, very cheerful character. From the beginning, we have some elements of Jackson’s style such as the use of the palm mute technique (bars 5-11) and the use of the lower register of the bass. In section A, the beginning groove sounds like a Brazilian theme with short and long notes that imitate a zurdo (Brazilian percussion instrument).

In section B we find some upbeats of the big band style, then in bars 51-57, a 4 finger tremolo is heard. This can be played with the thumb + 1, 2, 3 fingers with a crescendo. Bar 63 is one of the most virtuosic passages of the whole song, so try to practice it slowly while playing it using the thumb, index, and middle fingers on the right hand.

Section D trades with drums. Be sure to count firmly with your foot because Dave Weckl can create very complicated breaks!

In sections E through J, we find the Brazilian / bluesy section of the song. It’s mainly an F7 blues, it keeps in the same groove, except some very difficult passages (bars 140-141, 166-167, 178-179, 182, 209-210). Section K is the recapitulation of the song with the same music that we found in section C.

I sincerely hope that Mr. Jackson recovers from his health issues and that this transcription serves as a tribute to him. See you soon!

Follow along with the transcription and this video:

Marcelo Cordova is an electric and acoustic bass player from Chile. He has released five solo albums. Check out his website, where you can download his transcriptions and listen his music. Marcelo endorsers EBS amps and play Pavel Basses.

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