Yesterday, went to see ‘The Queen of Motown’ Martha Reeves at the Jazz Cafe in Camden. Really great set in a brilliant, tiny venue. Had a good chat with the excellent bassist Chris Blair who has the unenviable job of doing justice to the bass lines originally played by the legendary James Jamerson. If Martha is the Queen of Motown, Jamerson must surely be the King…. he played on more number one hits than anyone, and made the Motown sound what it was… Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops, the Temptations, the Supremes all owe a tremendous amount to him.
I had the privilege of meeting Martha and talking about her music and the role of the bass. And, of course, asking her about her memories of James (more about that another day). She agreed with the idea that Motown songs are a duet between the vocals and the bass. As she put it, “if the bass ain’t right, I can’t sing”. Amen to that.