Learn To Play “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late” Overdue Props For Scott Edwards

WHEN IT COMES TO THE UPPER RUNGS ON THE LADDER of unsung bassists, it would be difficult to place much higher than Scott Edwards. Between 1972 and 1982, Edwards appeared on 12 Billboard #1 Hits as a first-call L.A. session bassist. From R&B and rock to disco and pop to TV and film scores, Edwards’ rhythmically righteous, melodically savvy lines were everywhere. He laughs, “I remember turning on the Grammys one night and realizing I had played on three of the winning songs.”
Author:
Publish date:

WHEN IT COMES TO THE UPPER RUNGS ON THE LADDER of unsung bassists, it would be difficult to place much higher than Scott Edwards. Between 1972 and 1982, Edwards appeared on 12 Billboard #1 Hits as a first-call L.A. session bassist. From R&B and rock to disco and pop to TV and film scores, Edwards’ rhythmically righteous, melodically savvy lines were everywhere. He laughs, “I remember turning on the Grammys one night and realizing I had played on three of the winning songs.”

Born and raised in Atlanta, Edwards started on trombone at age 5 and switched to bass guitar at 18, shedding along with James Jamerson-driven Motown radio hits. In 1970, Stevie Wonder came through town having yet to replace Michael Henderson, who had left to join Miles Davis. Edwards’ brother and cousin were hired as part of the regional horn section, and they recommended him on bass. After the show Scott was offered the gig. Three years and two albums later, he followed guitarist Ray Parker Jr. out of Stevie’s band and on to Los Angeles, where Parker recommended him to Motown arrangers. Additionally, Wilton Felder gave Edwards his session work whenever he hit the road with the Crusaders.

Along with his favorite drummer, Ed Greene, Edwards really hit his groove when the disco scene exploded, leading to seminal sides with reigning dance divas Gloria Gaynor and Donna Summer, and a key role in the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. When the disco backlash swept out many of the producers and contractors he knew, Scott’s worked slowed down and he graciously stepped aside. “It was time to pass the mantle to new players, like Nathan East.” Today, the 61-year-old lives in Long Beach, doing tracks in his home studio for industrials and enjoying his residual-fed retirement.

Among the most stylistically revealing Edwards tracks is the Johnny Mathis/ Deniece Williams ballad, “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late,” a stand-alone single that reached #1 in spring 1978. Scott, who recorded his ’59 P-Bass with LaBella flatwounds direct, recalls, “We had a great Gene Page arrangement, but producer Johnny Mandel encouraged the rhythm section to put our personalities into it.” The under-three-minute cut consists of an intro and alternating verses and choruses, with no bridge. As the only instrument providing contrary rhythmic and melodic motion to the vocals, Edwards’ bass is a key third voice in the mix.

Example 1 shows the intro figure and a typical verse part. Note how Edwards subdivides by 16th-notes, astutely applies chromatic passing and leading tones, retains the classic root-5thoctave shape in most bars, and issues a killer fill in bar 5. “I’d hum the part in my head first and then try to find it on the neck.” He continues, “All of those moves can be traced to Jamerson’s upright-bass-influenced style, especially the way I used open strings to navigate the bar 5 fill.” In Ex. 2, the chorus, Scott’s busier staccato part provides almost a reggae bounce. Standout measures include another cool open-string-pivoting fill in bar 4, and chord-tone movement in bar 8. Overall, he advises, “There’s a lot of space between notes, so be sure to breathe in there and not rush the next note.”

Hey, Where are the Music Examples? Sometimes the music examples that run in Bass Player magazine are licensed only for print, and cannot be distributed online. You can head on down to your local music shop or magazine stand to pick up the copy of Bass Player containing the lesson you're after, or better yet, subscribe to Bass Player magazine, and never be without the music examples for the best bass lessons on the planet.

Related

Learn To Play Charles Mingus “Haitian Fight Song”

WHEN IT COMES TO HARDCORE bebop bass cred, Charles Mingus is one tough cat to beat. A prodigious and adventurous composer, a bold and outspoken social critic and jazz iconoclast, and one hard-swinging mofo, Mingus first became a fixture following his early days touring with luminaries Louis Armstrong and Lionel Hampton. He later formed famously tumultuous partnerships with Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, and Max Roach, and ultimately formulated ruthlessly rigorous curricula in his legendary Jazz Workshops, forums that served as launching pads for countless young lions of jazz. Viewed by some as Duke Ellington’s heir-apparent, Mingus firmly embraced big-band settings, scoring and arranging with an eye towards collective improvisation (à la Dixieland), all while attempting to elevate the art of jazz to equal or surpass the status of European-derived classical music.

/uploadedImages/bassplayer/articles/bp0210_Wood_Jaco_Ex-1.jpg

Lesson: New Jaco Early Years Discs

WHEN 17-YEAR-OLD JACO PASTORIUS laid eyes on his buddy Bob Bobbing’s Sony reel-to-reel tape recorder, he saw musical possibilities with unlimited potential. Fortunately for us, Bobbing had already recognized those same qualities in Jaco. Lugging the unit to Jaco’s initial gigs or loaning it to him for a sound-on-sound home version of “The Chicken” was the cornerstone of Bobbing’s 2002 landmark CD box, Portrait of Jaco: The Early Years. Ever since that superior sampling of pre-Weather Report Jaco, Bobbing has been eager to launch Jaco: The Early Years Series, featuring full CDs by the bands in which Jaco forged his seminal style. The first two releases, Woodchuck and Tommy Strand & the Upper Hand, have officially arrived [available on jacotheearlyyears. com and cdbaby.com]. Both live recordings are raw, revealing, and riveting, and serve as worthy style studies. Bobbing used the same taping method for each disc, setting up his Sony deck at a table in the cl

/uploadedImages/bassplayer/articles/bp1109_Wood_Kennedy_Ex-1.3.jpg

Tom Kennedy Masterclass, Neck Spans & Note Slurs

TOM KENNEDY WANTS TO MAKE you feel uncomfortable. But don’t worry, it’s all in the name of better bass playing. Since moving back to New York City in 2007, the St. Louis-native has been one of the most in-demand doublers around. When he’s not dragging his doghouse to Gotham gigs ranging from duets to big bands, he’s globetrotting with his Fodera 5 for Dave Weckl and Mike Stern (including Stern’s recent Heads Up DVD, New Morning: The Paris Concert), or he’s on the road doubling with Ben Vereen.