Working together with Chaka Khan for the very first time, Anthony Jackson was likely both thrilled and daunted to be given the chance to cover Stevie Wonder's "I Was Made To Love Her," a song that James Jamerson - one of AJ's musical idols - had already made his own. (AJ himself dissects Jamerson's style and it's influence on his own playing in the highly recommended book Standing in the Shadows of Motown.)
Chord-wise, I generally notate what the band plays as a whole, which can give rise to some involved looking symbols due to band members adding in their own extensions to enhance simple chords and progressions. However, it's likely that the charts used by the musicians on these sessions were much plainer fare. For example, the succession of punctuated chords first seen in bar four: D#9/F# | G add9 | D#9/A | G6B probably would have been notated far more simply, such as D/F# | G | D/F# | G, or perhaps even a super-simple D | G | D | G with the musicians or producer suggesting or trying out lines during the rehearsals or inevitable run-throughs before the recording engineer hit the scary big red button.
While AJ is happy to retain the gist of the original tune's main riffs he gives a nice twist to Jamerson's rising arpeggio figures over Bb7 and C7, first seen in bar 7. (Chaka's version is in D, whereas the original was played in F.) While Jamerson was content to outline a simple root-third-fifth triad on both chords (Db to Eb in the original), AJ, instead of playing a straight 1-3-5 rising triad on the Bb7, opts to dive to the major 3rd below the root, emphasizing the low detuned D and giving the song considerable more weight than the Stevie Wonder version. AJ's treatment of the C chord is also interesting; again, he eschews Jamerson's original straight triad and, after sounding the inevitable C on the third beat of the bar, sidesteps expectation by anticipating the looming D chord in the following bar by playing A and D eighth-notes, respectively, on the last beat of the bar. This serves to momentarily destabilize the harmony, before falling back into place on the downbeat of bar 8. This is typical AJ - introducing a subtle deviation that, while perhaps not overtly discernable, nevertheless registers on a subliminal level, keeping the ear on its metaphorical toes.
Like Jamerson, AJ is no stranger to the world of jazz. As such, he employs a lot of chromaticism including approach notes and bebop-style enclosures to evoke tension and give rise to areas of harmonic piquancy. For example, in "I Was Made To Love Him" he often utilizes the bluesy minor third as an approach to the major third of particular chords, as seen with the D7 in bar 13.
Bar 43 showcases another fine example of AJ's sense of drive and direction. Starting on the first beat of the bar on a high D, he unleashes a cascade of sixteenths that tumble down through the stave - scooping up F-naturals and G-sharps along the way - before landing squarely on a satisfying F-sharp on the first beat bar of bar.
In bar 65, another spectacular run demonstrates AJ's inherent understanding of tension and release: Starting again on a high D over a D7 chord, he lands on the 7th (C) on the second beat of the bar and rocks between this and the minor 3rd (F) for a whole beat; resolves onto the expected F# on beat three; and then anticipates the coming G of the next bar during the fourth beat of the measure. All this in one bar! Though there are many parallels with Jamerson's version, AJ actually takes more liberties with the harmonic foundation than his predecessor, who - on the original of this track at least - tends to land on a triadic tone on the key beats.
AJ stretches the ear's harmonic credulity even further when after setting up a solid sense of D7 in bar 48, he plays through another whole bar of the same chord using nothing but A, G, and a G-sharps. This kind of audacity is typical AJ - pulling the listener's ear around like a rubber band only to snap it satisfying back into place a few seconds later; though not always where one might expect.
On a final note, a long-running controversy over who actually played bass on Wonder's original hit ("I Was Made To Love Her"), looks like it's finally been laid to rest: Check out this page for a fascinating read featuring top musical sleuthery and lashings of common sense.
Transcription © Stevie Glasgow 2009