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Jaco Gossip - from Bobby Colomby...

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Mike Flynn, Jul 22, 2005.

  1. Hey - I was lucky enough to meet and chat with Bobby Colomby the other day - who if you don't know already - he produced Jaco's solo debut album - and he was a lovely guy. We met at a showcase for the trumpeter Chris Botti whom he's producing at moment - and of course I had to ask him about Jaco. He was more than happy to tell me a few things - that I'm sure have been written about elsewhere (and yes, I have read the Bill Millowski book!) but he told me that alot of the album was jammed - and he (Colomby) actually constructed a lot of stuff into 'songs' from ideas Jaco was just jamming.

    The most interesting thing he told me was about 'Portrait Of Tracy' though - basically he got Jaco to start playing a load of his ideas he had with harmonics - he just kept saying "play something else" and Jaco kept coming up with stuff - but luckily Colomby had hit record so got it all down on tape. Afterwards - without telling Jaco - he edited it together to create 'Portrait Of Tracy' - then he called Jaco back into the control room and said "Listen to this..." then played Jaco the tune - to which Jaco kept saying "This is bullsh*t!" and didn't get it - but Colomby kept saying - "No listen to it again" and slowly Jaco started to get the tune. When he finally got excited he suddenly said "Wait, I have to add one more thing..." ran into the booth and played, of course, that amazing last chord...

    I'm sure he's told that story before but it was so cool to meet him - he was very cool and was really happy to rap about that period - he's obviously very proud of what he did and he literally created that record and helped make it as varied as possible, thus showing all of the different sides to Jaco's music.


  2. j-raj

    j-raj Bassist: Educator/Soloist/Performer Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2003
    Indianapolis, IN

    that's absolutely hip... where did you bump into him?
  3. Ben Vail

    Ben Vail

    Jul 29, 2005
    Los Angeles
    That is an amazing story... I love that song. Very interesting to how it came about.
  4. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    That's awesome. I just finished the Bill Milkowski book earlier this week. I dig reading about Jaco and am beginning to read into the other greats. It's amazing. [just everything-it's amazing].

    That's all
  5. Jimbo


    Dec 4, 2000
    Philadelphia, PA
    wow thats amazing. i think we should start shelling some credit to bobby colomby

    "colomby only needed 4 strings"... :bag:

  6. It's great that Colomby caught onto the genius of Jaco Pastorius and left the record on.
  7. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    That's an awesome anecdote. Thanks for sharing.
  8. I was invited to a showcase of that trumpeter Chris Botti - he;s payed witrh Sting and he's a very nice guy - had a chat with him as well - my friend who used to run Sony Jazz UK introduced me to Mr Colomby - he said; "This is Bobby, he's a producer of some note..." - then as I stood there listening to them chat, Bobby kept saying things like, "Well the drum sound on those early Blood Sweat and Tears albums was blah blah..." and I tought - "Sh*t, this is the guy that produced Jaco's first album...!" So I took the plunge and asked him straight out - with "I'm probably going to sound like a total idiot, but was it you who produced Jaco's first album...?" which to my relief was YES - he was a great guy and very together and looked like he'd had a happy and successful career - I took his email address and sent this clip opf Laurence Cottle playing 'Used To Be A Cha Cha' - which he said he has but hasn't watched yet - I'll bug him for a reaction - anyway I have a new famous producer friend now...;)

    Glad you guys dug the story - pretty interesting considering what accalim that album brought Jaco - when actually Colomby really pulled all this stuff together - he said that there maybe one whole song that Jaco brought in - the rest were seriously edited and arranged by BC - Jaco was a totally raw talent that needed someone with more experience to bring out - nice job Bobby!

    Have a cool weekend

  9. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    I hate to hijack.....but what's Laurence Cottle doing these days? I love his playing! I have the Fents and his solo album, plus a few others, but I haven't seen his name around in awile.
  10. Futurebass


    Jun 22, 2005
    I don't get it....Jaco's great "composition", upon which much of his early notoriety rests, turns out to be a cut and paste job which was actually composed by the producer? And people think that's cool? To me it's slightly disillusioning.

    Cool story though.
  11. Laurence is very well and playing with the likes of Bill Bruford and his own big band - I've actually got Laurie a gig in Thailand in September and I'll be supporting him with my own band which will be both amazing and incredibly scary! He's playing a Goodfellow bass at the moment - see www.gbguitars.co.uk for more on them - and he's also endorsing EBS amps - I filmed a clip of him in action playing Jaco's "Used To Be A Cha Cha" at a guitar show here in London - check it out:



  12. fraublugher


    Nov 19, 2004
    ottawa, ontario, canada
    music school retailer
    me thinks the cutting and pasting was being called BS , just to be clear
  13. Well he actually 'edited' it - cutting and pasting is what they do to Britney's Spears' vocals to make them sound vaguely in tune...they didn't actually use computers in 1975 / 76...

    OK - that's your opinion and you're entitled to it - but I spoke to the man face to face and I'm certianly not going to call him a liar, he seemed very cool a genuine - take what you like from this but it's pretty much as he told to me - if you know otherwise then let us know - I'd be interested to hear the 'real' story from someone else who was actually there, were you? If so let us know...I just thought this would be of interest to some people.

  14. I know I'm new here and generally "noobs" don't hold much credibililty, but I think that story's bogus. Jaco wrote POT and played it for Tracy months before it was ever recorded. She called it the "Bathtub Song" because he played it for her when she was in the bath. He wrote the song for her, hence the name. I don't believe he would've named the song after his wife if it was created the way you said.
  15. Futurebass


    Jun 22, 2005
    Teo Macero put together many of Miles Davis' recordings in the same way contemporaneously so that was a method that was in the air those days. Sounds possible and why would Colomby lie?
  16. I didn't mean Columby was lying...
  17. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    Bobby Colomby explained POT the same way in a back issue of BP. It is nice that he isn't changing his story! But the Teo Macero reference is spot on. Miles didn't lack for ability, vision, or inspiration, but Miles ended up with 15 minutes of music when it came time to edit Bitch's Brew! It was something like 20 hours of tape.

    Teo had the luxury of having been in the booth, listening and observing, and was able to assemble the pieces in a pleasing and interesting way. I'd put Bobby in the same camp. Since I don't think you can find a recorded version of Jaco ever playing POT exactly like the studio cut, it makes sense that he did not work it out as a continuous composition.

    And if you think it is somehow a knock on Jaco, because you probably are on the lookout for ways to chip on a bass legend, here is a similar piece of music lore:

    Guitarist Joe Walsh was, like most other rock guitarists of his era, a big fan of the Beatles. One song that really caught his ear was "And your bird can sing", and Joe learned to play it, including the solo. He probably spent a lot of long hours at the turntable working it out. Later on when on tour with the James Gang he met George Harrison and asked him about the track and played him the solo. George was apparently shocked because he said it was double tracked and had several edits and he never thought about playing it live. Walsh was playing the track with all of the double stop bends.

    My point is that the studio is a tool, but when push comes to shove you have to be able to play your damn instrument. When you hear POT you hear a nice consistent tone, unprecedented use of false and natural harmonics, and a nice consistent tempo. No ProTools, NUendo, pitch and tempo correction,... just a bass, a tape deck, and a razor blade.
  18. Believe me, I'm not looking to put down Jaco. I'm a huge fan of his, he's by far my favorite bassist, his compostional skills were nothing short of genious, and I fully understand and appreciate the impact he had on the world of bass and music in general. I just heard a different story regarding POT, and this one didn't match up. I didn't think the story as a knock on Jaco, I'm just not so quick to believe it.
  19. djcruse


    Jun 3, 2002
    Norwood, MA
    I'm in contact with Bob Bobbing and just emailed him to see if he had any insights on this.
  20. RHFusillo

    RHFusillo Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Phoenix, AZ
    One thing to remember here is how startlingly original Jaco's first solo album was in 1976. Relatively few bass players at that time knew of some of those harmonics he was using, and fewer still knew about techniques such as the "false" harmonics. And nobody else that I had heard of the time could use them in as musical a context as "Portrait of Tracy." So even if Colomby did aid the composition process, a la Teo Macero, that was still Jaco Pastorius who came through in the recording.