Kit Morgan's Slam Dunk Funk is based around the key on Em with a four-bar introduction on the Dominant B7. the verse, an eight-bar section divided into four two-bar phrases, loosely based around Eminor, A and G chords grounds and using the Dorian mode with the bright 6th - C#, and the minor third - G. Technique-wise the line uses staccato and short notes, eschewing legato in favour of syncopated pushes coupled with kick drum.
The written score uses a number of dead notes, clicking sounds for rhythmic effect. You can play more of these than are actually written and in fact one way to maintain a good sense of groove is to click extensively in the quiet passages. You can do this in places where no actual clicks are in the score. The first priority is always to keep a strong sense of rhythmic flow, the groove. The second section C from bar 13 is in G minor with the bass line playing a natural minor scale including f natural even when accompanied by the Dominant chord D7 (D F#, A, C).
The bass solo moves to Emi again and only seven bars in the Rockschool arrangement followed by a written transition in bar 8 of the section. The drum solo is based on The G7 chord with chromatic passing notes, while the guitar solo moves to C7 and G7. The bass can easily move way from a strict chordal approach here and utilise the G blues scale to add melodic interest.
In the video I play parts of the line an octave higher.
Instead of a guitar solo I overdub another fretless bass solo (The instrument is a 2019 Performer Precision with dual pickups and a 1960's maple neck.) For the video I stay very close to the two-bar phrasing already established in the rest of the song. If you are performing live these solos could be extended much longer and you could employ a more varied approach to phrasing and development, commensurate with the longer span.
It is common to play funk with a fretted instrument, often using slapping and popping, however in this case I am intrigued by the tonal peculiarity of the fretless sound here, not so much the lyrical mwah favoured by many fretless players, but more a cleaner, round-wound tone, more like the bottom end of a grand piano. I recall albums made with Gary Burton and Steve Swallow (b.1940) where Swallow uses a clean hi-fi sound. I made no effort to emulate Swallow's sound in this recording except to say that it is an influence as much as the often -quoted Jaco Pastorius (1951-1987).
In response to a request from Ekerette Uko, here is a track called Mueva Los Huesos or ‘Move Your Body’. It was written by Gordon Goodwin (b.1954) , an American pianist, composer and arranger and played by the Big Phat Band. The style is a Latin-American groove I would describe as being in the big band tradition mixed with an element of a Disney Showband. It is jazz-influenced and has a childlike almost naive cheerfulness.
The style has a mixture of very tight sectional phrases played by the brass and saxophones, with a guitar and bass in the rhythm section and I think three drummers playing a complex layered line. There are also solos for soprano saxophone, trumpet and percussion.
Mueva is in A minor based on a 17 bar chord progression using: [Read column 1 then column 2. ]
For this video I mixed the bass louder than it would normally be just to highlight what I think is an interesting bass line that has a mixture of written parts and also opportunities for improvisation and variation.
The thing about playing with brass players is they are very much into rhythmic precision making sure that the players synchronise their articulations, staccato, legato, marcato, breathing, tone, and dynamics. This presents some challenges for the bass when we play unison passages because the bass is slow to speak as they say. So the bass needs to get up on the beat. To help most players would as in this video opt for a bright trebly sound in this case focused on the bridge pickup.
This tune was on the programme of a show I played with the West City Jazz Orchestra in west Auckland 25th March 2017. We rehearsed it but did not perform it. I hope we play it again another time.
LTCL BMus BA MMus(Hons.) Diploma Teaching