Greetings fellow low-end dwellers!! From my studio in the basement; (Stone Nives & Bare Skinz Studio)
I’d like to talk about…GROOVE!
A number of years ago I did a CD w/Steve Coleman called “Anatomy Of A Groove”. (Good CD)
I thought it would be a good title for a series of articles. The only groove I can talk about is mine!! So…….
The anatomy of MY groove is made up of a few things. Groove comes from life experience, (where you come from, what you did before & how you did it) & musical experience. (All the things you heard growing up, instruments you played good or bad & your adventures into each)
I started out hearing EVERYTHING EVERYDAY!!! The 60’s & 70’s was a groove hot box!! Groove came to me in many different ways & from many places!! From the radio, records my dad & brother were buying, from the jazz concerts & outdoor festivals my parents took us (my brother drummer Kenny & my sister violinist Yvette) to see. Groove came from the playgrounds in my hood in NYC where the Puerto Rican brothers were singing and playing congas & other percussion instruments all day…& night. The groove came from the church every Sunday! Saturday afternoon & Wednesday night if I was @ my aunt’s house!
All of these things fed my passion & my “groove”.
The next element was structure. I got that from playing sports & my classical studies on cello. It took a strange turn when I heard Ray Brown, Oscar Pettiford & Sam Jones play jazz on cello!! Freedom & structure for me came together at that moment. I began to collect more information to build “my groove”. Motown, Stax, Muscle Shoals & many, many other energies of music I came into contact with. Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, The Meters, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Curtis Mayfield, James Brown & Donny Hathaway got into me & took a hold! This was the time “my groove” was forming. Bass wasn’t even a serious thought yet… but my groove was taking root & growing.
Now all I had to do was GET A BASS!!!!
One of the elements of music I focused in on was…The Rhythm Section!! This was where all the groove was coming from. A smooth & smoking rhythm section in the 70’s that shaped how I listen & play music was of singer/composer/pianist Barry White. His rhythm section was full of accomplished players in their early days!! Ed Green-drums, Ray Parker-Guitar, Nathan East-Bass & of course Barry playing piano. I reached out to Nathan East (on tour w/Herbie Hancock at the time) while doing research on Love Unlimited Orchestra rhythm section.
Nathan was a young player when Barry heard him in California & invited him to play in the band. He told me it was an exciting experience being in the studio cranking out hit after platinum hit w/Barry White.
For me, each tune was a blueprint of discipline. The art of playing in a section where everyone has their part & function is lost in this time of guitar & bass Olympics. No one person was more or less important than the other. There was no overt flash or screaming guitar solos or mad bass slapping or thundering double bass pedal or cymbal crashing!! That section moved like a well oiled machine…or like I said to Nathan; “it sounded smooth like buttah”. The beauty of simplicity is what really got me about those guys! AND to find out it was Nathan playing bass, it made sense why I dug the bass. It was solid, good notes & to the point.
So; instead of checking out the “Bass Olympics” & “Guitar Aerobics” that pollute our sound waves nowadays, try checking out music that makes you move & feel good…not jump out of your skin!!
Music is not just notes. It’s composed of silence too. That’s why the musical rest was invented.
It’s O.K to create space. It’s been communicated many ways…”Less is Best”…”When in doubt, lay out”…& the most famous…”Silence is Golden” because he who lives by the note, dies by the note!!!
I’ll drop some more titbits on The Anatomy of MY groove next issue.
Keep the Bottom!!