EPIC Michael League Lick!

We all know Michael League as the power house bassist behind Snarky Puppy, but did you know he also has some serious jazz chops? The kind of chops that make these kind of faces…

Oh yeah!

We’re going to take a look at a lick that I took from a jam with Cory Henry (that you can listen to here), the lick comes in at 06:55 and is a swinging chromatic line that makes the crowd explode, you can’t miss it! Let’s check it out.

Download the backing track from the video here!

So why is this lick so awesome? Let’s break it down.

1. Target notes on strong beats.

A G Lydian sound is implied in the opening bar by targeting the first four scale notes (G A B C#), these notes all land on the beat giving them more weight than the other notes in the bar. The backing track I’m jamming to in the video is over an A7 groove, the target notes would then be b7 (G) R (A) 9 (B) 3 (C#).

2. Approach Patterns

League uses a variety of approach patterns to arrive at his target notes, all of which come from the bebop tradition. Ascending and descending chromatic approach notes are used along with an enclosure.

3. Sequence

The repeating pattern in the first measure provides a solid foundation for the lick which helps engage the listener, the ascending pattern also builds excitement.

Learn more about Using Sequence In Your Improvisations here!

4. Harmonic Structure

The second measure outlines an E major chord before descending the E Mixolydian scale. (NOTE! The D natural in this run is pretty difficult to hear and could well be a D#, making it and E major scale but D natural seems a better fit!)

Using this technique League is implying a | I | VI7 | progression. At this point in the lick, Cory Henry (the awesome keys player) lays out giving League space to bring in whatever harmony he likes before resolving to the G in the final bar.

5. Long Double Time Line

This lick is played in double time, or all as semi quavers, rather than the expected quaver based lines commonly found in jazz. Playing in double time you burn through your ideas in no time at all! League glues together three separate ideas (chromatic approach notes, scales fragments, scale runs) to create one long line, as each idea comes to an end the excitement is built further by the delayed resolution as he runs seamlessly into the next phrase.

Download the backing track from the video here!

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24K Magic Bass Transcription and Playalong

Hey bass fans!

I’ve just finished the transcription to the awesome bass line on 24K Magic bass line by Bruno Mars.

The transcription is available as TAB an notation to my Patreon supporters for $1 a month. Click the logo below for access to all of my transcriptions and to support MattLawtonBass.com!

Check out the play along below!

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3 Killer Louis Johnson Licks – Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough

Hey bass fans! In this lesson we are going to look three super funky bass licks courtesy of Louis Johnson from the song ‘Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough’. You can find a link to the full transcription for this tune at the bottom of the post.

This track has a killer groove and uses a combination of synth bass (possibly played by Louis Johnson – leave me a comment and let me know!!) and Louis’ signature Musicman funk tone. The song is in B major and the main body of the tune only uses two chords, A/B and B.

A note about slash chords… 

Slash chords are usually a short hand way of writing other chords, usually if a specific voicing is required by the composer, A/B can also be thought of as B7sus.

A/B = B7sus

B (R)  C# (9) E (4) A (b7)

What scale to use?

This track is in the key of B Major, so what scale are we going to use to build these funky licks with? B Major, right?! Wrong!

Check out the string melody to the tune below.

Note the use of the Bebop Scale, using both the major 7th and flat 7th. A G natural, or b13, is also used and although it functions as a chromatic approach note, it’s fairly safe to say that both chords in this tune are being treated as dominants and that means we can give them all kinds of tasty alterations.

Check out the licks below, notice that all three make use of the b3 (D) and the b7 (A).

1. This lick makes use of the B Minor Pentatonic scale with the first grouping of sixteenth notes accenting the sus (E) quality of the chord and the second grouping outlining a B-7 arpeggio. Minor scales are commonly used over dominant chords when playing the blues and the same concept works great for funky fills!

2. This cheeky lick targets the b3 and b7 with some funky articulations, again from the B Minor Pentatonic scale.

3. The final lick begins with octaves on the root and b7 before descending the A Major Scale, implying a ii minor sound or B Dorian.


The full transcription to this tune is available to my Patreon subscribers from $1 per month!

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Spanish Joint Bass Transcription – Marcus Miller

While Marcus Miller is known for his killer slap technique and his signature tone, he is also an incredible bassist in a more traditional sense. Check out his killer groove on David Sanborn’s latest record, “Time and the River” – specifically the cover of D’Angelo’s track, “Spanish Joint”.

Full transcription available for Patrons! (more info here!)

Miller plays most of this track palm muted and creates a line with subtle but effective developments as the track progresses.

Read more

New eBook! Walking Bass For Minor Blues – Style Of Paul Chambers

I am very pleased to announce the launch of my newest ebook!

All of the material in this book comes directly from transcriptions of Paul Chambers’ bass lines.

In your download you will get…

  • 35 pages
  • 30+ exercises
  • 4 etudes
  • 3 study pieces
  • 48 backing tracks
  • 2 midi files

For this week only, get it at the discounted rate of £7.50!

The Reviews Are Out!

The past few months I’ve been working on as MD on a pantomime at The Epstein Theatre, Liverpool. Last night was our press launch and the reviews are up from last night, very relieved to get 4 stars and looking forward to another three weeks of shows!

Liverpool Echo

“In fact this year’s show, supported by a live band, is packed with tunes, particularly a medley at the start of the second half which includes Atomic Kitten numbers The Tide is High and Right Now.”

Wirral Globe

“The three-piece band under the leadership of Matt Lawton were spot on for the wide range of songs – a disco medley especially.”

Good News Liverpool

“Musical Director Matt Lawton heads the 3 piece pit band who pack quite a punch in some clever arrangements.”

Liverpool Sound and Vision

“…it is rare in the world of pantomime to find such generosity of spirit for another’s work but in this year’s Aladdin at the Epstein Theatre it is one that is finely tuned and one of positive illumination.”

Write Base Theatre

“Although the humour was a heavy aspect of the show, and a strong one at that, the music was good too. The stand-out musical performance came from Aladdin and the Princess joining to sing Whole Again; of course, with the Princess being Atomic Kitten star Natasha Hamilton, this felt more like a mini-concert than a panto rendition, and therefore was probably the strongest musical moment ever for an Epstein panto.”

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