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Standing In The Shadows Of Motown MOVIE

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Posted by BassLand on October 24, 2001 at 11:06:44:

Hi All,

I am BassLand, You may have seen my webpage dedicated to bassist James Jamerson. I have what I feel will be an announcement of interest to members of

I was privileged to attend an advance screening of the movie Standing In The Shadows Of Motown on October 18th 2001 and it was great. It was held at the Director's Guild of America here in Los Angeles. The movie is the story of the Funk Brothers, the house band for Motown Records in Detroit. These guys played on the vast majority of motown recordings from 1959 till 1972 and their story has not been told until now. I had seen raw footage of the movie (a documentary) but to see the finished product with all the voice overs and needle drops (what they call it when they play a record in a movie as part of the underscore) at the DGA state of the art screening theater was a different experience.

The title comes from the Book about the life and music of James Jamerson (by Allan Dr. Licks lutsky) and Jamerson is figured centrally in this movie (Jamerson died in 1983). For his time, James Jamerson was one of the most innovative bassist in history. Many modern bass stars we know of today site Jamerson as one of thier main influences.

This movie is scheduled for theatrical release. If you are a bassist, a musician on any instrument, or just a Motown fan, this movie is a must see. The release date is set for January 2002 after the Sundance Film Festival.

It was particularly interesting to me as Motown was the music I first played when I started bass in 1963. I had to learn all those records from sound alone and to "see" the originators of this music playing it on stage (There were 12 songs played in a concert setting) was a revelation. Some of these guys are in their 70's now and it was great to see them get their due while they were still with us (besides Jamerson, Funk Brothers Benny Benjamin [drums], Robert White [guitar], Eddie "Bongo" Brown [percussion], and Earl Van Dyke [keyboards] have since passed away) There is however footage of all but Benny Benjamin and Eddie Brown in an interview setting. With all the MTV generation of music today this movie may seem trite now but it was something I was lacking for all these years and I am elated to see those blanks being filled in.

The film has Motown music throughout Live and archive. The guest stars, Chaka Khan (Chaka was at the screening), Montell Jordan, Levert, Joan Osborn, Bootsy, Ben Harper, and Meshell Ndegeocello singing Motown songs backed by the Funk Brothers. They really performed very well, so did the Funk Brothers. They played the original arrangements with horns and strings recorded. There was interview footage of the Funk Brothers. It was great to hear Jamerson's unaccompanied bassline from Bernadette playing under part of the story (Dr. Licks, "they took it right from the multi-track master"). The opening theme was Pino Palladino playing some unaccompanied bass lines that were in the Motown Style.

Live performances include "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", "Shotgun", "Do You Love Me", "Reach Out, I'll Be There", "Ain't To Proud To Beg", "I heard It Through The Grapevine", "You Really Got A Hold On Me", "Whats Going On", "What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted", "Heat Wave", "Cloud 9", and "Cool Jerk".

Besides Chaka Khan, Doctor Licks, The Director and co-Producers Paul Justman and Sandy Passman, Executive producers David Scott and Paul Elliott, (Paul is also a bassist) were all at this screening. Also in attendance was Bill Leigh, editor of Bass Player Magazine and Detroit native bassist Al McGrier, Motown Alumni Association was represented by Cornelius Grant and Ruth Robinson.

see some photo's I took at the reception after the screening.

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