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BassPlayer 2017-01

BassPlayer 2017-01

TRANSCRIPTION LINK FACE

TRANSCRIPTION LINK FACE TECH PLAY LEARN ? TRANSCRIPTION Charles Bradley’s “Change For The World” Nick Movshon’s Complete Bass Line By CHRIS JISI | ClaSSIC R&B, that baSS-driven amalgamation of impassioned vocals, syncopated rhythms, and shifting minor chords, is alive and well at Diamond Mine Recording in the Manhattan-shadowed Long Island City section of Queens, New York. Owned and operated by guitarist Thomas Brenneck, multi-instrumentalist Leon Michels, drummer Homer Steinweiss, and bassist Nick Movshon, the crew is responsible for vocalist Charles Bradley’s latest acclaimed album, Changes [2016, Daptone]. The New York-born Movshon has already established deep rhythm roots on recordings with Antibalas, Sharon Jones & the Dap- Kings, and Dr. John, and—as Mark Ronson’s first-call feel-maker—with Amy Winehouse, Quincy Jones, Adele, Bruno Mars (“Locked Out of Heaven”), and Ronson’s 2015 solo smash, Uptown Special [RCA]. For Changes, Movshon steps up with a song-defining sub-hook on the pleading ballad “Change for the World.” The session for the track took place at Diamond Mine in November 2014, and featured Movshon, Steinweiss, and Brenneck cutting live. Added later were Bradley’s vocals, background vocals, horns, and organ. Offers Movshon, “With Charles, usually we send him a finished track and he writes the melody and lyrics, and then he comes in and records with Thomas. As I recall, we got to the studio, wrote the song, ran through it three or four times to solidify our parts, and then we did two or three takes—and I believe the album version is the first take.” Movshon plucked his ’69 Fender Precision sent into an unmiked Ampeg B-18 and a Countryman DI. “We liked the amp leakage into the drum mics, so you’re hearing some room sound.” From there, his signal chain was a Psidex tube preamp, an Altec 1567A tube mixer, and a dbx 161 compressor. Known for his use of vintage basses, amps, and strings, he allows, “The strings on my P-Bass are a mixed set of 40- to 50-year-old flatwounds—three Pyramids and a Fender on the D string. I’m the only bassist I know who trolls eBay for old strings to use,” he laughs. “I’ll find sets that match in gauge and feel, and I’ll come up with a combination of strings that sound good and consistent—this set has been on for five years.” The track begins with a drum fill into an instrumental intro that later becomes the chorus. “The bass line just happened and seemed appropriate to what we were writing. I had been listening to George Porter Jr. with the Meters and to Howlin’ Wolf’s electric record [This Is Howlin’ Wolf ’s New Album, 1969, Cadet], with Louis Satterfield and Phil Upchurch on bass, which probably had an impact. Actually, I came up with the verse bass line [letter A] first, and the rest of the part spun off that.” The intro/chrous line establishes a few parameters: the general pattern of eighth-notes on beats one and three and 16th-notes on two and four, and the key use of long and short notes (with short notes often on the downbeat). Also of interest is the unorthodox chord movement of II–I resolving to the III chord (Bbm–Ab–Cm). “At this point, we’re so well-versed in vintage R&B chord progressions that we try to move away from them, consciously or unconsciously.” For the first verse, at letter A, the aforementioned intro/chorus rhythmic and note-duration components continue in what is a more melodic bass part. (Indeed, Bradley does as much talking as singing in counterpoint to it.) Letters B (first chorus) and C (second verse) mirror the intro and letter A. Letter D begins as another chorus but veers off with an instrumental interlude in the final four measures, making it more of a bridge in Movshon’s mind. “We often shy away from middle-eights [another term for bridge] because they’re predictable, so this is our undercooked version of a bridge!” Letter E’s out chorus begins with no drums, creating a fourbar breakdown before the drum fill-led full-groove return in bar 54. Loosening up in the fade, Movshon tosses in some E naturals in bars 63 and 65, where he matches a drum fill on the last two beats. “That major 3rd against a minor chord is something you hear a lot on soul records, from James Brown’s bassists to James Jamerson—whether it’s functioning as a leading or passing tone, or ghost-note, or the ingenious ways Jamerson used them, including open strings in flat keys.” Movshon, who has most recently spent his time outside of Diamond Mine touring as a member of the Arcs (with Black Keys guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach) and tracking with Mark Ronson for Lady Gaga’s latest, Joanne, advises, “Be sure to play the part in the middle of the fingerboard, like I did. Also, I plucked the strings just below the neck—I keep all the covers on my Precision and Jazz Basses, and I pluck in front of them. Feel-wise, the choruses are in the pocket to a little pushed, but for the verses Homer and I are sitting back. Be mindful of your melodic role, but stay locked into the groove, and have fun.” 56 bassplayer.com / january2017

assplayer.com / january2017 57

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