By Andy J. Gordon
The Bass Player LIVE! concert at the Key Club in Hollywood on October 22, 2011 was a raucous stroll down memory lane. A packed house of industry pros, fans and bass guitar junkies were in the club to honor the legendary careers of Jack Casady, James Jamerson and Larry Graham. Casady and Graham were presented with lifetime achievement awards while James Jamerson Jr. accepted for his deceased father. The highlights of the evening were the live sets performed by the honored musicians and the sit ins by talented guests.
Casady (www.jackcasady.com/,) one of the foremost rock bass guitarists joined Jefferson Airplane in 1965. He and Jorma Kaukonen launched a side project of acoustic and electric blues music called Hot Tuna in 1969. Over the last forty years Casady has worked on other projects, but still performs music from the Hot Tuna catalog, often with Kaukonen. At the Key Club (www.keyclub.com) Kaukonen joined him onstage for a stellar acoustic performance that showed they both still have amazing musical chops. Hot Tuna classics like “Hesitation Blues,” and “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” kept the crowd riveted and reinforced the musicians’ legendary status.
James Jamerson was a bassist for many of the Motown hits of the 60s and 70s but did not receive credit on the records for his work. He recorded with Jr. Walker & the All Stars, Stevie Wonder, The Miracles, The Temptations, Martha and the Vandellas, The Supremes, Gladys Knight and the Pips and most of the album What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye. Jamerson’s bass lines were considered an integral part of the “Motown Sound” and he is recognized for expanding the role of the bass player in popular music. He passed away in 1983 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. At the Bass Player Live! Concert event Jamerson Jr. accepted the lifetime achievement award for his dad and also played bass with an all star Motown tribute band. They performed songs by The Supremes, Stevie Wonder and several additional Motown classics.
Larry Graham (www.larrygraham.com/) was the bass player with Sly & the Family Stone and the founder and front man of Graham Central Station. He is credited with inventing the slapping technique that Graham refers to as thumping and plucking. Graham and his band played several of the Sly Stone and Graham Central Station hits. The audience really got into the vibe when the band played “Dance to the Music” and “I Want to Take You Higher.” The often covered “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)” was a show stopper with Graham thumping happily and the audience bopping to the beat.
Photos courtesy of Andy J. Gordon