Funk Fusion Bass by Jon Liebman -- Book Review
Funk and Fusion Bass is a book aimed at helping those learning how to play bass master the fingerstyle funk sound, as opposed to the slap and pop style of playing. The book starts out with exercises to master the basic two finger technique, progresses to exercises in string crossing, adds some sections on stylistic elements (e.g. the hammer on, the pull-off, the slide, the trill, the shake, and the bend)..
Then we get to the meat of the book in many ways which is Chapter 5. In this section there are a bunch of grooves and lines for you to learn and master. Each of these lines is recorded on the accompanying CD so you can hear how they should sound.
Additionally there is a smaller section aimed at kick starting your development of more soloistic type phrases. Though the Author is at great pains to remind us that our job as bass players is to hold down the groove.
How Is Funk And Fusion Bass Presented?
Funk and Fusion Bass is around 100 pages, and my copy has a typical Hal Leonard 'soft' binding. Which means it's not as useful as a spiral bound book for when you're actually working with the material in the book. And spend a lot of time with the book and it will start to fall apart.
All of the musical exercises are presented in standard notation and the obligatory bass tab. One thing Hal Leonard are very good at is printing music with a high clarity. And this book is no exception, the quality of the music printing is excellent - all of the examples are clear and very legible.
The CD that accompanies the book has drums and bass on it, and as well as being well recorded they are also presented in different stereo channels so you can pan and play along with just the drummer if you wanted to.
How Could Funk And Fusion Bass Be Better?
There are a few amendments that in my opinion would turn a good package into a great package.
Firstly the grooves that form the heart of the package could be set to typical real world chord progressions - and those chord progressions could be reflected on the recorded CD by harmony instruments such as guitars and keyboards. That way the player would get some subliminal ear training whilst playing them with the CD, and start to get a sense of how these lines would sit with other instruments.
Secondly a section aimed at the beginner/intermediate player explaining how to transcribe the grooves for different keys and different qualities of chords would be a great addition.
Thirdly: MORE GROOVES! A lot of time is spent on basic exercises aimed at developing technique. That could be shortened slightly and would allow more space for the meat of the book, the grooves.
Fourthly: spiral binding please! It's really annoying to get books you want to work from and have to damage the spine to get them to lay flat on your music stand. These days I've taken to simply destroying the binding and spiral binding them myself.
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