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Artist’s Choice: Christian McBride on Classic Funk/R&B Bass

James Brown, EW&F, Temptations and more

Verdine White of Earth, Wind and Fire in the '70s
Larry Graham
Christian McBride at NJPAC press conference, 4/13

My favorite funk and R&B tracks have active bass parts that are creative but also disciplined. The discipline of what makes funk funk is the exact opposite of what makes jazz jazz. As jazz bass players, we’re taught to milk every possibility out of every chord change in every bar, so we’re constantly creating something new. Whereas in funk, the goal for the bass player is to find something that works and keep repeating it over and over again. If you break that pattern, the whole thing is going to fall apart.

James Brown

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