December 25, 2006

James Brown: Master of Precision

James Brown died earlier to day. Long live James Brown! His life is not only a significant loss to those close to him, but to all who appreciated his genius. Rest in Peace.

I played in my high school marching band in the late fifties. The thing you have to know is to play in tune and play in time. During practice sessions, the drum line ( click on video) played their complicated cadences. Playing those intricate patterns was not a problem, the problem was keeping the drums in time; otherwise you would have chaos. The drummers aspired to play as tight as James Brown’s band. All band members who had seen his shows were in awe. Brown had raised the bar. His band had two drummers on either side of the stage in older venues. Not only did the drummers have to be in time, the rest of his band had to hit those notes precisely. This along with Brown’s silences (I think that what those in hip hop call breaks) and use of rhythm; is what made him a great musician.

If the YouTube video is not visible here is the link for Sex Machine.

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