This is the passing of an absolute Titan of 20th century music. A musician of the highest order. Not to mention his unique and unmatched gifts as an entertainer.
Among his contributions:
Sure he has roots that lead to it but he flat out invented the style and remains it's greatest practitioner: everyone was trying to reach his level in it - no one did.
Minimalism in Popular Music:
Sitting in a repetitive groove forever as in Machine is to me the greatest form a minimalism. In the Classic movement things shift and go out of phase. In James' music it doesn't have to because the goal is attained straightaway and doesn't need to go anywhere else. Sort of like arriving in Heaven - it was for me as a 12 year old boy any way.
If you think his brass and rhythm players came up with those seminal parts and figures think again. He was all over every aspect of his music and if things weren't right he would change it. Not to minimize the contribution of his great players but James was like Miles Davis or Louis Armstrong: it was his ears that said 'this is my sound right hear so yeah that's the part' or he would flat out write it or whatever.
James Brown is one of those guys you just can't stop talking about because everything he did was teaming with effortless, original, genius. His songwriting, singing, dancing, studio and live music, chart topping success and influence on several generations of musicians all stand alone as the fruit of a stunningly God-gifted musician who indeed brought a whole lot of Heaven to this difficult Earth. I guess he's just gone back now.
He is certainly timeless. It's funny, there are a couple of little pieces I give to my beginning classical guitar students by another guy who's name is James Brown. Even the youngest of them will often exclaim to me, "Is this THEEE! James Brown?" Or "Is this the real James Brown.?" Of course I can say yes. They go home and practice like hell. The next week when they come in I'll say, "Oh you mean the THEEEEEEEE! James brown?" He certainly had a way of making one want to dance.