Bassline Academy – Spider, Paul Jackson

This is a slightly obscure bassline to learn but there’s a story behind it!

Spider is a track from the Secrets album by Herbie Hancock. As with other albums of this era (Head Hunters is probably the most well known) Paul Jackson is Herbie’s bass player. If you don’t know any of Paul Jackson’s stuff then check him out, he’s Mr Funky!

I first heard this track on a live recording played by The Brasshoppers with the mighty Gideon Jukes on tuba. Gideon sounded amazing! It was a crazy tuba funk masterclass and I had no idea where to begin getting my head around the lines he was playing. Then, last year Gideon did a studio recording of the track with The Brasshoppers (check it out here), which was equally great. The problem was over the last couple of years I’ve found myself back in The Brasshopper tuba chair and they were keen to keep playing this tune. I bodged my way through it a few times but decided it’d be a good idea to learn the original which is the reason for this transcription. I’m still learning……

After the initial sustained bass notes in the introduction the majority of the tune is based on one riff/progression which has 3 main variations. The first variation uses some bass guitar harmonics which I play down the octave and gradually builds up with additional fills and improvised nuances. After a short breakdown the second variation also builds in complexity and intensity as it heads to a brief bridge section. After this the third variation stays relatively simple as it motors on to the outro. Jackson’s rhythmic placement and ghost notes are super cool throughout.

Download the complete bass transcription here. (The low C# in the last chord isn’t played by the bass but I’ve included it here because it’s fun to play!)

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