I’ve been a fan of Pino Palladino since I first heard his fretless playing on Paul Young’s Wherever I Lay My Hat and Tear Your Playhouse Down. There were quite a few UK fretless players in the 80s but Paul Young’s record was the first time the bass was so far forward in the mix in a pop tune. Pino went on to play with so many great artist. The Pino Wiki is worth a read. It’s a who’s who of pop music.
One of my favourite records from the last few years is The John Mayer Trio – Try. It’s a live recording with Pino and Steve Jordan on drums supporting John’s guitar playing and singing. I expect John’s playing on this record surprised a lot of people who were used to hearing his Top 40 pop tunes. He can play!
I decided to lift and transcribe this tune to get a better insight into what Pino does. Pino and Steve make for a formidable rhythm section and I love that they are both busy but very much in the pocket. They are locked in and super tight. I wonder how much they rehearsed to get the show to this point?
Pino’s delivery of the funky 16th note patterns is a masterclass in time and groove. Every 16th is in exactly the right place for the entire 4 minute plus recording. He never lets up. What stands out for me in the transcription is his use of chord tones and ghost notes. There are lots of subtle changes to the bass line all through the tune. I’ll be practicing this one for a while to try and make it feel as relaxed and flowing as Pino does. Here’s a link to my Pino Transcription. The transcription starts when the bass comes in, after the guitar intro.