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Israel Crosby’s Sweet Bass Line From “But Not For Me” by Alex Wilkerson

Meet Alex Wilkerson –

This months transcription is Israel Crosby’s sweet bass line from the song “But Not For Me” off of Ahmad Jamal’s album At the Pershing: But Not For Me.  There are a lot of cool lines here.  One great lesson from this piece can be found when you analyze where the roots occur.  There are plenty of examples where the root doesn’t fall on one, and among those examples are plenty where the root doesn’t even happen on two.  It just takes one listen to the song to hear that Israel is definitely taking care of biz.  His lines are awesome, no question about it, so take this opportunity to explore more inversions for your walking lines.

Click below to view the transcription:
But Not For Me – Ahmad Jamal

I highly recommend analyzing the lines by the number compared to the chord.  Take measure 34 for example.  The chord is Cmaj7 in this case.  Compare the line to the major scale of the chord.  Since Cmaj7 is our example, we compare the line to the C major scale, by the numbers.  The note C is the first note of the C major scale, A is the sixth.  Do this for the whole measure and you get: 1, 6, 3, 5.  The next measure (35) is on G7, so we’ll compare the line to the G major scale.  When you’re done with that measure, you should have: b7, 3, 5, 4.  It’s a pretty strange line.  When you’ve done this for the whole song, take a listen to the song again, follow along with the transcription and mark the measures for the ideas that you especially like.  Take the licks from these measures, memorize them by the numbers along with their rhythm and apply to an easy song.  Let’s say one lick you like is all quarter notes and the numbers are: 7, 3, 5, 1.  Take this lick and walk it on every chord of an easy song.  Use a song like Autumn Leaves, Solar at a slow tempo, All the Things You Are, All of Me, etc.  Even though this particular example has a major 7th, and a major 3rd, you can morph it to any chord you’re on.  If you are on a D-7, just change the lick to: b7, b3, 5, 1.  Doing this will give you: C, F, A, D.  Keep in mind that this is a trio with solos.  I did my best to accurately relay the implied harmony, but there are a wide variety of substitutions and in many times, only an upright to spell them out.  Lastly, remember that in the realm of bass, feel is more important than note choice in most cases.  It’s great to look through, analyze, and steal licks, but you can’t be a hater of someone who has a real good feel.  I found one or two “mistake” notes, but they don’t matter…period.  To prove it to yourself, listen to the song without the transcription and ask yourself how much better Israel makes the song sound, and feel.

If you’re scared to play wrong notes, you’re probably not going to be able to have a good feel.  Just a thought.  Enjoy this great find and check out more of Ahmad Jamal if you haven’t already.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Birch Smith

    October 23, 2011 at 1:18 am

    In about 1954 I organized a recording session by a Natty Dominique jazz band. I had the original 1923 King Oliver Creole Jazz Band rhythm section including Lil Armstrong, Baby Dodds, and Bill Johnson (JellyRoll’s brother-in-law, albeit the latter on string bass instead of banjo. At the last minute, Johnson backed out, and I got Israel Crosby who was between gigs with Goodman. This was an interesting historic session despite the advanced age of most. Alex Wilkerson might be interested in hearing this. Crosby takes a solo on one number. I can be contacted email: [email protected].

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