mast top Japanese

Anthony Jackson - "I Know You, I Live You"

As featured on "What Cha' Gonna Do For Me" by Chaka Khan
Warner B7599-25867-2 (1981)

Chaka Khan - What Cha' Gonna Do For Me

"I Know You, I Live You" provides a great example of Anthony Jackson's "less is (sometimes) more" approach. Though there are occasional machine-gun bursts of excitement, on the whole, Jackson tackles the track in an expansive and rhythmically measured fashion, laying down long sections of half and quarter notes while letting the natural momentum of the song build on top of this simple foundation.

As such, the considered reticence of the first 12 bars or so is perfectly balanced by the occasional flurry of sixteenths, first seen in bar 13, and later in bar 21 and other sections. These intense explosive runs provide topographic relief while helping accelerate the track toward the chorus. Jackson's detuned Fender also gives the track added gravity with the low Ds that herald in the chorus, providing a miles-deep sense of stability.

Harmonically, the track starts off somewhat nebulously, and it's initially difficult to pin down the key. However, the guitar helps make things slightly clearer. The synthesizer plays the 7th and 9th of the Dmin chord, while the guitar riff contains the minor 3rd. Similarly for the Cmin11 chord, it's the guitar that's responsible for adding in the minor 3rd (Eb), which helps define the harmony. (As in "Fate," I've added in a rhythm line to indicate where the chord changes fall in relation to the bass.)

In bars 7, 9, and 15, the length of the long D varies with each appearance. While it's tempting to round each appearance up to a whole note, as in bar 15, I'm reticent to do so, as AJ may have been responding to changes only he could hear or sense. Therefore, in this instance, I'm leaving the notation as it is...

In the chorus, AJ avoids the obvious by-the-book root movement that many lesser players would likely have settled for. As such, the C# (first inversion of A) gratifyingly unsettles the ear when it leaps down to Bb, which initially is used as the flattened 7th of C7 - the V chord of the relative major of this D minor-based number - before becoming the root of the Bbmaj7 chord that follows. Here, less imaginative bassists might have been tempted to either play a dull D, A, Bb, A, C, progression in the first two bars of the chorus (or perhaps a D, C#, C progression). But, as ever, AJ does the unexpected. Of course, this bass progression could well have been Arif Mardin's idea, (Mardin co-wrote this track with Chaka), in which case, I'm barking up the wrong tree. In entirely the wrong forest. ;-)

This C# to Bb bass movement sounds slightly unorthodox in this pop-like setting because it utilizes the descending harmonic minor scale. This scale (for example D, E, F, G, A, Bb, C#, D in the key of D minor) has traditionally been employed as an ascending scale - at least in classical harmony. When descending, the melodic minor scale (D, C, Bb, A, G, F, E, D) was traditionally used in its stead. As such, the C# to Bb leap, though ostensibly a minor third, is actually an augmented second in this context.

Bach likely would have tutted mightily at AJ's audacity. Charlie Parker, on the other hand, probably would have given him a standing ovation. ;-)

In other areas of interest, check out the lovely rising figure played by keyboardist Larry Williams over the chord progression that unfolds during bars 53-58 (Gmin9, Emin7, Amin7, Bbmaj7, Gmin7, Emin 7, Amin7, Bbmaj7). It takes a lot of experience to voice chords in such as way as to yield internal melodies like this, and it's always a joy to stumble upon these flashes of understated artistry.

Also, check out AJ's fill over the A7#5#9 in bar 95, to which he adds extra colour by touching on the b9 (Bb), as well as helpfully emphasizing the #5 (written as F but theoretically an E#).

As the track wears on, AJ becomes slightly more animated in the chorus sections, giving rise to increasingly detailed notation. During bars 81-88, for example, sixteenths and sixteenth rests abound. While some transcribers are tempted to "smooth out" this kind of detail, I'm keen to keep it in.

"But why?" you might ask. "Doesn't it just needlessy complicate things?"

Well, let's take an example from this section: Try playing bars 85-88 exactly as written in this transcription. Then, play it again, and this time, instead of the eighth-note, sixteenth-rest, sixteenth-note, pattern found in bars, 85, 86, and 87, try playing a dotted eighth-note followed by a sixteenth - as it would likely be transcribed by a proponent of the "smoothing" approach, and you'll see what I mean. The result is very different in terms of rhythmic buoyancy and verve. And, even though AJ might actually play something similar to this imaginary "smoothed" version elsewhere in the track, it's not what he played here - just as the rhythm is intensifying in anticipation of the bridge section

"Yeah, but what's your point Glasgow?" you might ask in an increasingly weary tone.

Well, the point is that, in my example, AJ is introducing different rhythmic patterns as the song heats up, and to negate this fact in an attempt to please the eye in terms of dots on the page is a treasonable offence as far as I'm concerned. (Of course, I'm more than happy to contradict myself by adopting a different approach for other tracks if the occasion calls for it, but that's my prerogative, so there!) ;-)

But then you might say, "Hey baby, take a deep ol' swig from that bottle of perspective over there! You"re taking this whole transcribing caper, waaaay too seriously!"

And I'd likely sigh deeply, bashfully toe the ground and say, "Yeah, you're probably right..."

Transcription © Stevie Glasgow 2008