Groove Of The Week #9: Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band – ‘Express Yourself’

Melvin Dunlap’s part on Charles Wright’s classic funk hit ‘Express Yourself’ is a bass line that everyone should know:

The syncopated groove sits squarely in Eb major and fits nicely in one position:

Charles Wright - Express Yourself copy

Got A Groove Request? Let Me Know!

If there’s a bass line that you love but have never got round to learning then let me know by commenting on this post – it could be a classic groove or a song that you feel deserves wider recognition from the bass playing world.

Groove Of The Week #6: Me’Shell Ndegéocello – ‘The Way’

This groove easily makes it into my top 10 bass lines of all time. If you’re a bassist who wants to groove and you haven’t checked out Me’Shell’s records then you’re missing out.

In fact, stop reading this right now and treat yourself to Plantation Lullabies and Peace Beyond Passion. You can thank me later.

I’ve spent a lot of time transcribing Me’Shell’s lines – here’s a link to almost all the grooves from Peace Beyond Passion, including ‘The Way’:

Me’Shell Ndegéocello – Peace Beyond Passion (selected bass lines)

Groove Of The Week #3 – Curtis Mayfield ‘Move On Up’

This week’s groove is all about one of the essential tenets of bass playing: consistency

Want a challenge? Try playing the syncopated,hypnotic bass line from Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Move On Up’ for 5 minutes straight whilst maintaining consistent articulation, note length and dynamic level. Harder than it sounds, right?

Curtis Mayfield - Move On Up

Fret less, Say More

Last year I got a call to play some bass on some tracks for Records On Ribs artist Talk Less Say More. The plan was to make a record with a decidedly 80s feel, which meant that I got to stretch out and take some risks doing things that I don’t usually do as part of my ‘day job’. I seem to remember the conversation going something like this:

“It’d be great to have some fretless bass. Do you have a fretless bass?”


“Oh ok… Do you play fretless at all?”

“Sorry, I’ve never played fretless…”

“Ok no problem, we’ll hire you a fretless. It’ll be fine.”

In almost 15 years of playing this was the first time I’d had someone ask for fretless. So, the night before the session I take delivery of an unlined Fender P/J and do my best to get my fingers (and ears) around it.



On the day I tried to channel the spirit of Pino Palladino/Jaco/Bakithi Kumalo and other fretless players that I’d grown up listening to. Here’s how some of it turned out:





So, did the experience persuade me to take the plunge and go fretless? In a word, no.

In spite of the fact that I really enjoyed the session I don’t feel that fretless fits with my ‘voice’ as a bassist – although I’m heavily influenced by fretless players I’m sure if I made the switch then I’d end up sounding even more like a sub-par Jaco or Pino clone.