Dismiss Notice

Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

A Tribute To Jaco - Brecker, Scofield, and Methany Remember Jaco Well

Discussion in 'Features' started by TalkBass, Oct 18, 2004.


  1. TalkBass

    TalkBass News Poster

    Mar 12, 2004
    <p align="center"><strong><font size="+2">A Tribute To Jaco - Brecker, Scofield &amp; Metheny Remember Jaco Well</font></strong></p> <p align="center"><em><font size="+1">Contributed to TalkBass.com by Mike Flynn </font></em></p> <p>When recounting the events of a life story so tragic, and not for the first time, one can only feel still further saddened at the loss of a soul so bright and brilliant as that of Jaco Pastorius. Never had someone possessed so much potential and squandered so much of it on drink and drugs and most tragically of all, to a mental condition that he was powerless to overcome. However, the beginnings of his rise to becoming (in his own words) &quot;the world's greatest bass player&quot; was a trajectory created by a god-given gift and years of dedication to his chosen instrument. Just as we look back on the likes of Jimi Hendrix - an equally pioneering voice of the guitar, so Jaco Pastorius reinvented the bass. The 'Hendrix of the bass' - the oft-muted phrase still rings true today - his later notoriety based on his own equivalent of throwing lighter fluid on his career and setting fire to it.</p>
     
  2. TalkBass

    TalkBass News Poster

    Mar 12, 2004
    <p>The shockwaves caused by his reinvention of the bass guitar has enslaved as many bassists as it freed, such is the magnetism of his sound. The singing, sliding, rubbery, vibrato laden punch of Jaco's fretless '62 Fender Jazz is still being felt today through bassists who were either taught by him or who've adopted a similar throaty timbre as 'their' sound. His replacement after he left fusion super group Weather Report, Victor Bailey, despite not actually using a fretless, has a very similar sound. As does one-time right hand man of Miles Davis, bassist and producer Marcus Miller whenever he goes near a fretless. In fact, every bassist who's electrically inclined has in some way had to acknowledge Jaco's influence either on themselves or on the instrument as a whole, and for that matter music as a whole.</p> <p>September 21 st rolls around again, and passes just like any other day, here in England we're bracing ourselves for a stormy autumn, bemoaning another disappointing summer. Yet this anniversary is another year after Jaco's untimely death in 1987, and one is easily distracted by other, grimmer, annual reminders of almost daily tragedies far worse, in a world with an increasingly pessimistic point of view. Yet the volcanic creative fire that leapt from Jaco's bass is still running wild through a new generation of players who, perhaps technically, have exceeded the standard set by the master; but few have yet to cause the same hurricane effect on music that Jaco's talents did. <br> <br> With the reissue of his eponymous first album on Epic, recorded in 1976, remixed and remastered from the original analogue master tapes, the time is always ripe for a reappraisal of his influence, and the eclectic and masterful body of work he left behind. As with all great musicians, Jaco worked with a diverse range of artists, from vocalists Flora Purim and Joni Mitchell to guitarists Pat Metheny, Mike Stern and John Scofield, fusion virtuosos Weather Report, saxophonists David Sanborn, Michael Brecker and Bob Mintzer amongst many, many others - leaving behind many varied and enthralling performances in as many styles as there are artists. In the last year, I've been lucky enough to talk to a few of the people who had direct contact with Jaco at various stages in his life and their reactions and memories are further testimony to this beacon of musical inspiration.</p> <p>Guitarist John Scofield was a contemporary of Jaco's and recalled the sheer self-confidence that made Jaco such an imposing figure, even before he played the bass! </p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <p>&quot;I was up in Boston living up there and Pat Metheny came up there and we became friends. And Pat Metheny told me, he said, 'you know there's this guy from Florida who I think he is like the greatest musician I ever met!' Pat was like really amazed by this guy. He said 'problem is, he's really out there! (Laughs) He'll like tell you he's the greatest musician you ever met!' Because all the other really great musicians we had met were really humble and were these kind of guru type guys and Jaco was different. Then Pat recently afterwards got him to play on his record, then I heard the record, I said 'you're right he is really, really good.' And then Jaco's record came out, and that blew my mind! Because I said here is somebody who has done what I wanted to do. I mean this guy on one track, he was playing with Herbie and playing just unbelievable. He was playing the bass the way I wished I could play the guitar. Then he had Sam and Dave on another track and I said 'Holy s***' because I had been a big soul music fan too at that time. Then he played Donna Lee and it was just like it was all there. And this guy was literally coming out of the blue and he changed music at that time. And then I met the man because then I got the gig with Billy Cobham's band and he joined Weather Report and we started to do all these gigs opposite each other. Then I got to know him a little bit and yeah, it was true, here was this guy who came up and said you know 'I am the greatest bass player in the world. I know you been playing with some of those other guys but man, I'm the man!' I was like 'who is this guy?' And then it really intimidated me because he was the man. He was completely the man! And he was this insane guy! (Laughs) He just played it all man, he had it all and he burned up and he's gone.&quot;</p> </blockquote> </blockquote> <p>He was one of the brightest flashes in the history of modern music, I add. </p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <p>&quot;Yeah, that I ever saw, like that (snaps his fingers) and it was over&quot;, Scofield confirms. &quot;He got into getting high. When I first met him he didn't get high on anything. He was like 'I don't do that stuff, that's for assholes!' Then I met him, like a year later and he was like 'hey man, I've got me some incredible cocaine, check this out!' Just completely gone, he was completely out of it. But you know, the years that he was with Weather Report and when his album came out, there was nothing like it. It was just completely unbelievable, and his compositions the whole deal, he was the greatest ever, you know?&quot; There are plenty of imitators and great bassists around today though. &quot;But there's nobody like Jaco. There was so much soul in that stuff and it was all the beautiful harmonics stuff too. It was Latin music, it was funk he played with Wayne Cochran and the CC Riders, which I was real into them, because he was like the white James Brown, but it was from this really slimy, Southern thing, it was so funky and then Jaco was in on that! Because he lived in Florida which was the South and the real R&amp;B stuff was down there in the Deep South . And there was still the Criterion Studios down there where they made a lot of really heavy R&amp;B stuff so his R&amp;B stuff was just incredible. And all the chords that everybody heard like Joe Zawinul and Herbie and those guys I think they couldn't believe it. I was lucky to be there.&quot;</p> </blockquote> </blockquote> <p>Indeed, Jaco had started his musical career with the sincerest intentions, a clear head and the dedication and ability in every area he explored to back up any of his ideas, no matter how ambitious. &quot;Bass playing then was just like a hobby to me back in high school, but I've always been the sort of cat that whatever I wanted to do something, no matter what it was, I always tried to do it good. So like I was always good at baseball and football when I was a kid; just the way I was, I just wanted to get in there and do something, no matter where it was, I just wanted to do it good. So it was the same thing with music; when I was learning, it really didn't matter, it was just something I was doing.&quot;</p> <p>At the time of recording his first, now legendary album, saxophonist Michael Brecker, the foremost voice of the tenor sax working today, played on the sessions at producer (and drummer for Blood, Sweat and Tears, who Jaco had played with briefly) Bobby Colomby's house. When I spoke to him he recalled when he first met him at the recording sessions: </p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <p>&quot;I first met him on that session. And I had heard about him, but that I believe was the first time I met him, that was at Bobby Colomby's house, he was the producer and he had a studio in his house. It was in up state New York so I went up there and I liked him. Then he played me the recording of 'Donna Lee' and I completely flipped…I had never…it was not just that he was playing it on the bass but it was just so great. And you know, he set a new standard and continued to, and he was probably the most powerful musical presence I have ever been around. And that can't be overstated and I used to say it then, so I'm not saying it in retrospect, he was a powerful presence - it's sad that he was ill. I really cherish the times I spent with him.&quot; </p> </blockquote> </blockquote> <p>They met again on Joni Mitchell's 'Shadows and Light' tour, in a band featuring himself, Pat Metheny, Don Alias, Lyle Mays and Jaco, then in the early '80s again as part of the band assembled to celebrate Jaco's 30th birthday. Brecker elaborates on that explosive and hugely enjoyable, unique gig: </p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <p>&quot;Oh yeah, that was a good one. That was never meant to be a record. At the time I think it was meant to be a present for his mom - it was some kind of crazy thing. But it was good that it was done - even though it was a big party, but it was recorded well, and was nice because there have been so many Jaco, kind of crappy sounding, awful things from clubs that were never supposed to be released, and his record 'Word of Mouth' was such a classically, incredibly great record.&quot; An awesome record by any standards, I concur. &quot;Awesome, awesome album and he was a highly, highly accomplished composer and he was also a very giving human being in spite of some of the demons, he was tremendously generous and caring.&quot;</p> </blockquote> </blockquote> <p>Another hugely influential artist, who was also about to change the face of the guitar as we know it, Pat Metheny - was a close friend of Jaco's during his musically formative, teenage years. Pat recalls those early days: </p> <blockquote> <blockquote> <p>&quot;Well, we were best friends for four or five years when we were both really young before anybody would have known anything about either one of us. I met Jaco when I was seventeen. He would have been about nineteen at the time, he was a couple of years older than me. We very quickly developed a not only strong personal relationship but musical relationship because we had so many things in common in the sense that we were both pissed off (laughs) at the development of our respective instruments in jazz. We felt, almost kind of reactionary to the jazz scene at the time, which was ironically what now has become, what they call now 'fusion', which of course now most people include he and I both in that thing! (Laughs.) Which is sort of a weird thing that's more or less just a historical anomaly. Yeah, we were both really interested in harmony, which at that time was not very much of a thing a lot of, cos I'm talking '72, '73, '74 which was sort of when people were really playing mostly one chord kind of vamps, sort of the post Mahavishnu thing. I was personally, as much as I love John McLaughlin, I was like Wynton Marsalis, (laughs) I didn't want to know about fuzz tone and all that. I wanted to play in chords, I wanted the groove to come more from the cymbals rather than the backbeat. And Jaco was doing things way differently in another way, which his whole thing was more of a lighter kind of funk thing you know, as opposed to a rock and roll thing. We had a lot of very strong similarities early on and continued to be very, very close up until the time he joined Weather Report and then his lifestyle went in a different direction. I was always very straight, as was he up until that time, and when he started drinking and stuff he really became a different person and we were less close you know. Although we were always tight, I was one of the few people that I think could really talk to him because I knew him from so many years before he became 'Jaco', you know, and also because we really did have this very special musical relationship. It was a very unique time.&quot;</p> </blockquote> </blockquote> <p>To tell the whole story would take more time and space than we have here, but like others before him, Jaco's time amongst us was running on a meter much quicker and more productive than most, and at the same time fated to end in tragedy. Just as Van Gough never sold a painting until he was dead and buried, so Jaco died a broken individual who slipped through the net, too taciturn and probably too far gone for anyone to catch him before he met his demise at the hands of bouncer outside a nightclub. The fact he wasn't recognised by the guy, the fact he had a death wish, the fact the bouncer exacted such a brutal beating on one so gentle and caring are all things that we cannot change. However, his music lives on and as you sit reading this, somewhere some 15 year-old kid is hearing Jaco for the first time. They'll be thinking 'how the hell am I supposed to compete with that?', yet at the same time be inspired beyond belief that with his or her bare hands they might just change the face of bass playing, the way Jaco did. In an interview in January 1977 with Neil Tesser of 'Downbeat' magazine, Jaco was still lucid and perhaps unwittingly, perhaps not, described the vibe of his Florida home, and in many ways himself. &quot;The water of the Caribbean is much different from other oceans. It's a bit calmer down there, we don't get waves in Florida , all that much. Unless there's a hurricane. But when a hurricane comes, look out, it's more ferocious than anywhere else. And a lot of music down there is like that, the pulse is smooth even if the rhythms are angular, and the pulse will take you before you know it. All of sudden, you're swept away.&quot; </p>
     
  3. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ontario
    Are we supposed to reply to these? I'm not really sure...but anyway, I love reading recollections of Jaco by the people who really knew him well in his earlier years -- especially Pat Metheny. Their music meshes so well, it speaks more volumes about their relationship than any interview ever can. Bright Size Life is a great primer for people who've only read about their friendship, and not heard it first hand.
     
  4. Chef316

    Chef316

    Oct 19, 2004
    ah Jaco...my role model as far as bassists go...i dont really respect him as a person that much but as a bassist...he was AMAZING! EXTREME! INSANE!...so ya...thats what i have to say
     
  5. Anti_Wish

    Anti_Wish

    May 14, 2004
    Boston, Ma
    And it makes me think of where would he be know if he hadnt died that night? would he still be the greatest bass player in the world or would he be swept under the rug by people like wooten and Pope and Dickens?BTW could you see Jaco with a 9 string bass? that would be a hoot...
     
  6. Jaco was one with his 4 string bass and I think he would probably stayed playing it today.But, who knows?

    Pastorius was an incredible bassist and a composer and In my opinion his music would be a little more interesting than other excellent bassists like Wooten or Jeff Berlin. etc...
     
  7. I love prose that has the power to conjure emotion, and therefore thoroughly enjoyed these first-hand stories of Jaco's life and musical passion. Loss of life is tragic, always, but tragedy can influence men to do good. I hope the story of Jaco continues to influence me to enjoy music as well as reach out to those with mental illness, addictions, etc.

    Thanks for the post.
     
  8. Dbassmon

    Dbassmon

    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    Although there are many talented bassists out there right now, a talent like Jaco comes around once in a life time. I was lucky enough to be alive when Jaco was coming up and, from the first time I heard a note from this guy, realize how special he was. Wooten, Marcus and Victor Bona are undoubtedly great players. Jaco reinvented the bass as an instrument and took to unprecedented places. There are a few people that lay claim to that accolade, Charlie Parker, Jimi Hendrix to name a few. One can speculate about how many strings Jaco would have on his bass or what he might be doing if he was alive today etc, fact is all that doesn't matter. This man left his mark on every musician who ever heard him. One post suggests that Jaco wasn’t such a great guy. Unfortunately, he was a person with serious mental and emotional problems. Listen to “A Remark You Made” on Weather Reports “8:30”, tell me if you are not looking into the soul of a superman.
     
  9. Dbassmon

    Dbassmon

    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    Although there are many talented bassists out there right now, a talent like Jaco comes around once in a life time. I was lucky enough to be alive when Jaco was coming up and, from the first time I heard a note from this guy, realize how special he was. Wooten, Marcus and Victor Bona are undoubtedly great players. Jaco reinvented the bass as an instrument and took it to unprecedented places. There are a few people that lay claim to that accolade, Charlie Parker, Jimi Hendrix to name a few. One can speculate about how many strings Jaco would have on his bass or what he might be doing if he was alive today etc, fact is all that doesn't matter. This man left his mark on every musician who ever heard him. One post suggests that Jaco wasn’t such a great guy. Unfortunately, he was a person with serious mental and emotional problems. Listen to “A Remark You Made” on Weather Reports “8:30”, tell me if you are not looking into the soul of a superman.
     
  10. demolition

    demolition Guest

    Jul 5, 2003
    Conn.
    When I was a little boy i started playing drums,and before I could appreciate the instrument my hero to be was already passed on,John Bonham was my idol,my teacher,and the person I wished was, or was to be,I missed out on one of the greatest drummers of all time,all I had to go by were old recordings and a radio special now and then(zen)to go by,I wished with all my heart that i could have seen Zeppelin in all their glory,and to hear MOBY DICK live.
    Many years later I decide to learn a new instrument,and as fate would have it, an old drum was found by me in the new house I was renting a room from and then was traded in for my first bass(my room was to small to accomidate me and a drum kit,and on my pay i coud'nt afford a electric one)and 3 years later I find myself looking up to a bass player and musician I once again will never get to see,meet,or look forward to a new recording by,another cruel joke fate has told me :( .
    Now that i am a man of 33, I dont look at my influences and idols with the same admiration and child like astonishment I once did,but the complete respect and passion for their music and what they did with their given instrument are still there,though I will never get to see JACO play live,his music and brilliance will continue to inspire and baffle me long after I master my own instrument.
    THANKS FOR EVERYTHING :bassist:
     
  11. funky plunky

    funky plunky

    Mar 18, 2004
    Maybe if jaco wasnt such a drunken *******, he wouldn't have had his ass handed to him by that bouncer. Let's face it people, as well as being a great bass player, jaco was also a great big prick.
     
  12. hey funky, I'm gonna have to disagree with you. You have to understand what was going on in his life personally. I don't think he was a drunken *******. He was a man who was used to everybody putting him up there as the greatest thing there was. When the people he loved the most (read: HIS WIFE) gave him the boot, that was a real breakdown for him. If you're gonna accuse him of something, it would be of being WEAK. And weak he was, be cause he wasn't into drugs or booz until he started having problems in his family. I don't blame Tracy, she had every right to deserve better, not everyone can marry a musician, even more a touring musician. So please think a little more deeply before you pass judgement as not everyone has the same level of strength to resist drowning sorrow on coke or whiskey.

    Wilser.
     
  13. I know I wrote this piece - so I hope this doesn't come over the wrong way- but I had an opportunity to interview these people - Brecker, Scofield and Metheny - and I couldn’t resist asking them about Jaco - and even though they all acknowledge the personal hell that Jaco went through and often made those around him endure as well, they all say he was an incredible force in music - full stop / period – Brecker calls him <b>The most powerful musical force he ever encountered</b> - do you know who Brecker is? For that to come from him is a pretty definitive summation of Jaco’s powers as a musician.

    To call him a drunken ******* is like calling a parent with Alzheimer’s a forgetful idiot - this is not something Jaco has much control over - so to judge him on his faults and not the immense achievements of his life is just stupid, naive and quite frankly annoying - <b>if you can do better then - let's hear it.</b>.

    I want to take this opportunity to say I find Talk Bass a very cool, often inspiring and friendly place in the main - but I am getting a little tired of negative and thoughtless statements by people who for whatever reason should know better. I do not want to sound like an angry parent but let's make this a bastion of positivity and knowledge - not a cliquey, bigoted and idiotic forum for misinformed statements.

    The music industry has for too long dumped on the people that made what it is - <b>the musicians</b> - and as such these are the people now paying the price <b> like Jaco did</b> for the mistakes/indulgences of others in the past – as users of Talk Bass we have strength in numbers - so let's use it for good - being a bass player is one of the best things in the world - let's keep it that way.
     
  14. I know I wrote this piece - so I hope this doesn't come over the wrong way- but I had an opportunity to interview these people - Brecker, Scofield and Metheny - and I couldn’t resist asking them about Jaco - and even though they all acknowledge the personal hell that Jaco went through and often made those around him endure as well, they all say he was an incredible force in music - full stop / period – Brecker calls him <b>The most powerful musical force he ever encountered</b> - do you know who Brecker is? For that to come from him is a pretty definitive summation of Jaco’s powers as a musician.

    To call him a drunken ******* is like calling a parent with Alzheimer’s a forgetful idiot - this is not something Jaco has much control over - so to judge him on his faults and not the immense achievements of his life is just stupid, naive and quite frankly annoying - <b>if you can do better then - let's hear it.</b>.

    I want to take this opportunity to say I find Talk Bass a very cool, often inspiring and friendly place in the main - but I am getting a little tired of negative and thoughtless statements by people who for whatever reason should know better. I do not want to sound like an angry parent but let's make this a bastion of positivity and knowledge - not a cliquey, bigoted and idiotic forum for misinformed statements.

    The music industry has for too long dumped on the people that made what it is - <b>the musicians</b> - and as such these are the people now paying the price <b> like Jaco did</b> for the mistakes/indulgences of others in the past – as users of Talk Bass we have strength in numbers - so let's use it for good - being a bass player is one of the best things in the world - let's keep it that way.
     
  15. lowb1970

    lowb1970 Supporting Member

    Feb 29, 2004
    Columbia SC
    Thanks for reminding us there are still positive people in the world. :hyper: :hyper:
     
  16. ardorx

    ardorx

    Sep 23, 2004
    Sugar Land, TX
    he might have been a drunken ******* and a prick to you, but mabey you're one of the very few, close minded, great bass playing pricks who think that.
     
  17. wish

    wish

    Nov 28, 2004
    Augusta, Ga.
    I have had the pleasure of having Jeff Berlin as my teacher (fer 6 months), not only enjoying Stanley Clarke, but acually meeting him on a pro basis, and I still think Jaco WAS the innovator. No Jaco, nothing but Journey or Travis Tritt.
     
  18. mike sancho

    mike sancho SANCH

    Feb 10, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Having always been and remaining today totally in awe of Jaco, I recently purchased Young and Fine, Weather Report live in Germany DVD. After watching it several times I still say there is no one like Jaco. For me it's all about that magic feel the man had. It didn't matter what style the music was if Jaco was playing, it had so much soul it oozed. That is not to say that today we are not blessed with many amazing and gifted bass players because we are. But IMHO none of them are Jaco. It's that feel he had. Not to mention his amazing composing ability. He rewrote the book on electric bass. I miss him but I never forget what he did. Jaco was here and gone in an instant but the impact he had on so many of us says it all.
    Who loves ya baby!!!!
     
  19. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Jaco is probably one of the most powerful forces in my musical career. The first time I saw him play, in 1978, it changed my whole outlook and approach to the bass.

    It's a real shame that the "amazing musician" thing seems to have taken such a toll on him. That would probably be true for a lot of creative types. Sometimes we don't handle that kind of thing very well.

    I went through a sort of "personal hell" for a while too. I was homeless and penniless, and living in Tompkins Square Park in New York, right around the same time that Jaco was hanging out over on the West Side. We used to hear stories about this badass bass player that liked to play basketball. I had no idea it was Jaco at the time, or you can bet your bottom dollar I would have been across town faster than you can say "hero".

    Sure he had some issues. I even remember a buddy of mine, a young cat that was good friends with Hiram Bullock. He used to tell me stories about Hiram and Jaco, and the kinds of parties they had. It seems to have been a destructive path, in more ways than one, and it surely had all kinds of personal effects on Jaco and the people around him, but at the end of the day, Jaco was a musical genius. People will remember him for his music, not his eccentric behavior. His musical legacy survives in all of us. :)
     
  20. erikjfreed

    erikjfreed

    Sep 23, 2005
    I attended a small master class given by Jaco a very long time ago. He was friendly, gracious, alert, attentive, and immensely impressive. I remember the constant emphasis he put on chordal/apparegio structures and exercises as opposed to scales and linear movement. I will forever remember him and that vision. I have had so many friends and colleagues who succumbed to various personal weaknesses and temptations. To disrespect a talent like Jaco on that basis is very sad and I have to say just not very tuned into the vibrant and dramatic history of art in general.