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Anthony Jackson - "Move Me No Mountain"

As featured on "Naughty" by Chaka Khan
Warner 7599-26747-2 (1980)

Chaka Khan - Naughty

"Move Me No Mountain" is yet another song in which Anthony Jackson employs his detuned 4-string Fender to seat-shaking effect, tuning down two whole steps to C, F, Bb and Eb.

Harmonically, the song is pretty simple and is based around a C minor groove moving to a Bb-flavoured chorus. However, the basic chords are once again embellished and expanded by the players to elevate the track from the realm of the ordinary into something special.

As with a lot of the songs on this album, "Move Me No Mountain" abounds with harmonically rich suspended chords creating a sense of harmonic fluidity and musical openness. In particular, Chaka Khan's music abounds with 9sus chords. Many folks choose to notate these chords with slash chords, such as using the alternative spelling of Bb/C for C9sus. I don't have any particular problem with that. However, personally I prefer to use the sus9 spelling as it better represents how the harmony is functioning.

The C minor groove is based on the II chord of Bb, and the keyboards and strings in particular exploit this Dorian dimension by using triads based on the V and VI chords of Bb (F and Gmin) to create harmonic movement above AJ's underlying C minor groove. (These triadic shapes can also be thought of as the upper extensions of the Cmin chord.)

AJ breaks up the long single-chord sections through the clever use of rhythm, alternating three tight sixteenths to outline the root and dominant, as first seen in bar 3 (a move often used by his hero James Jamerson), which in turn contrasts with a broad sweep down through a Cmin triad, often using an F# to approach the 5th of the chord (G) as the run starts its descent to the low detuned C.

Although AJ'spart contains copious amounts of sixteenth notes, he also presents us with another master class in the use of space. For example, in bar 11, just before Chaka makes her entrance, most bassists would likely stick in a fill, a glissando or something to bridge the gap between the two sections. However, instead of doing the obvious, AJ merely sits back and lets the music breathe naturally - a small gesture that makes a huge difference.

As most bassists will likely play tracks from "Naughty" on a conventionally tuned 5- or 6-string instrument, ways will have to be found around the often tricky fingerings necessary to emulate a detuned 4-string.

Good luck! ;-)

May 2009 update: For quite some time now, I've been trying to get my hands on a copy of the issue of Bass Player containing Chris Jisi's analysis and transcription of "Move Me No Mountain." Though I've so far been unsuccessful, I did however discover that there's a - completely legitimate - online service called that archives a multitude of articles from various magazines; luckily, Bass Player is among them. For a nominal fee (in this case a measly $1) you can download this extremely interesting article (minus the transcription) here.

Chris evidently spoke at length to Anthony about the track and the circumstances surrounding the "Naughty" sessions, turning up some priceless nuggets of information in the process: I for one was unaware that AJ had played this track with his fingers! (I've already altered my transcription to reflect this revelation...)

Transcription © Stevie Glasgow 2008