Wednesday, November 3, 2010

B.B. DICKERSON: BASSIST EXTRAORDINAIRE from WAR

Morris "B.B." Dickerson was the great bass player that you heard on the big WAR band cuts of the early 70's, the hits and the great album tunes that didn't become big, big hits. Lowrider. Cisco Kid. Spill that Wine, The World is a Ghetto and for reasons I'll discuss more in a moment, the just spellbinding song Slipping into Darkness.

Songs like Slipping into Darkness were my fodder for learning to play funk drums as a very young kid. These songs were popular and on the radio all the time then, and my drums and stereo were in my room, so there you go. Learning to play challenging rhythms, particularly for a new drummer, from the hi-hat line to Slipping made me understand the funk and the soul and the groove from an early age. Those things were as important as the meter and time signature to playing that kind of music.

I've also been "playing at" bass guitar (and guitar and piano) since my junior high years, with some breaks in there. The past ten or so years, I made a headstrong reentry into both bass and guitar only to wax and wane again in my practicing and playing. I've been working on bass here and there lately again, doing scales, but recently when I pulled my WAR anthology from the CD shelf, the bass part on this song just rocked me.

I got all caught up in the bass part one day and although I've heard the song at least a hundred times over the years, never noticed the absolutely just killer playing by B.B. on this song.

B.B. has his bass thang going on. For sure. The gentleman can play that bass guitar, and as the finest players of music will tell you, it's NOT WHAT YOU PLAY, but often, WHAT AND WHERE YOU DON'T PLAY that defines the music. The spaces in between the notes, and how they are timed.

The wiki entry for B.B. is rather small,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B.B._Dickerson ,but indicates he now lives in Southern California and tours with Howard E. Scott, Lee Oskar and Harold Brown as the Lowrider Band.

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