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Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Rav, Feb 8, 2005.

  1. Rav


    Dec 29, 2004
    Aurora, IL

    Before I started reading talkbass I'ld never heard of Jaco. I own some victor and some les claypool and a bunch of other bass music that I considered pretty high end. After seeing everyone "Jaco this..." "Jaco that ..." I got excited and went out today to track down the holy grail of bass playing to hear for myself.

    My god it sucks.

    Let me clarify. Its technically pretty over the top hard. I agree he was a master of his particular play style.

    Its just about as interesting to listen to as crickets mating.

    let me give you a comparison to let you know where I am on this. mmm Gymnastics, its hard ( I certainly can't do them ) very demanding and takes a lot of physical talent 999k out of a million don't have. But its about as fun to watch as Oprah talking to Dr. Phil about hemmoroids.

    And in case your a Dr Phil/hemmoroid/Oprah/Gymnastics fan let me give you another example.

    Its kind of like Joe Satriani on guitar. Joe had a couple of really awesome songs but most of them are so "out there" that you just can't enjoy them. You might listen to 15 seconds of it and go "wow he is awesome good" [trackskip] "woah this one is even harder" [trackskip] .. "hey lets listen to some AC/DC" .. "yea"

    Not implying that everyone is a ACDC fan, if you hate ACDC insert the name of any band that grooves and isn't too complicated but you love them just the same.

  2. I have heard those sort of sentiments regarding Jaco's playing before, but you have to realize how much Jaco innovated bass playing and how much he added to the world of bass playing.

    Read some of the liner-notes on the "Jaco Pastorius: Word of Mouth Revisited" CD: (please excuse any spelling errors I may have made while typing these in)


    "If you play the electric bass, you have to come through Jaco. He made innovations on the instrument that had never been made before him, or after him, if you really want to make a true statement. Nobody has ever innovated on that instrument like Jaco Pastorius." - Christian McBride

    "For as great of a player as Jaco was, I think a lot of people overlook his writing. His writing even surpasses his playing. That's just a gift. You either have it or you don't, and he had it." - David Pastorius

    "He made no pretenses about what he believed in and how he wanted to play his music. He plugged in his amplifiers and took off -- no holds barred, all the time." - Jeff Carswell

    "I remember the first time hearing Jaco... That was the day that I turned into a different bass player" - Victor Wooten

    "He had everything -- great sound, great touch, a great feel, unique ideas. He kind of played lead bass, but still in a way that was functional and provided the groove and the energy for the band that the bass player is supposed to provide." - Victor Bailey

    "I think Jaco Pastorius is one of the greatest bass players to have ever lived... Jaco was definitely beyond the scope of anyone else. He was definitely off the radar, and those are the kinds of people you gravitate to." - Jimmy Haslip

    "He was very daring in his approach to the instrument, and there will never be another one like him... People need to get a taste of what Jaco did to really understand what bass is supposed to be like and what jazz composition is supposed to be like." - Gerald Veasley

    "The first time I heard Jaco, I was fourteen years old. I had never wanted to play bass before. I used to play guitar back then, and then this guy played a tape of Jaco. It was 'Portrait of Tracy,' from Jaco's solo debut, which is still my favorite album. From that day on, I quite playing guitar. I played bass from then on." - Richard Bona

    "Most musicians that I know absolutely appreciate the contribution Jaco made to music. I feel like every year, his memeory gets stronger. It's up to us to make sure folks don't forget." - Marcus Miller


    I do realise you are entitled to your own opinions, just thought I'd share these thoughts with you.
  3. Rav


    Dec 29, 2004
    Aurora, IL
    I'm not saying he's not a great writer or musician. Hes just a bit too avanteguard. I suspect some people pose like they like him just because they think they are supposed to.

    As for me I'll scratch him in the category of French food. Not enough main course, too many sauces and too complex for my pallete to apreciate.

    I'll be in the corner listening to Otis Redding and eating a steak.

  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    But what albums or tracks did you listen to??!! :meh:

    Jaco has a pretty large discography which encompasses some beautiful tunes, funky R&B, exciting fast Jazz, pop/rock with Joni Mitchell etc etc

    But he also did some pretty awful stuff which I wouldn't give house room - especially towards the end of his career when suffering from manic depresssion coupled with drugs/drink....:(

    With Jaco - you have to be careful - nobody doubts there is rubbish out there - but also some of the best and most beautiful bass playing ever recorded! :)
  5. Rav


    Dec 29, 2004
    Aurora, IL

    Oh I agree wholeheartedly that I didn't exactly sample all of his work. I downloaded a full CD from Apple Itunes. The name of the CD was Jaco Pastorious ( Remastered ). I assumed a sort of greatest hits from the way it was portrayed. Pretty much everything on it sucked pretty bad.

    I'm not saying he can't sit in a band and sound bad assed. But if this CD was any representation of his solo work you can have it.

  6. Rav


    Dec 29, 2004
    Aurora, IL

    I think maybe this is why a comparrison to Joe Satriani is a valid one. Everyone loved surfing with the alien. Besides that most of it sounds like well played but worthless crap. And Joe is on a ton of other peoples records as a studio guitarist with flawless execution. Just don't let him go on stage alone.

  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    If it's the album I am thinking of, then it's official :

    You have no musical taste whatsoever!! ;)
  8. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I'm assuming it's Jaco's debut album...which put all of us playing bass back then on notice; the very same record that Marcus Miller kept on his turntable for a year, etc.

    It's funny; whenever people hear something outside their 'comfort zone'...they say they would rather hear "crickets mating".
    Trust me, I know. Been there, done that.
    The first time I heard Coltrane, the first time I heard Bitches Brew...it was "Terrible". I'd rather hear a buzz saw 2ft from my head.
    Eventually, I realized the problem was me.
    Sorry, not all musicians are gonna want to conform to my myopic standards of what sounds "good". I had to get with the program.
  9. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    What's wrong with that? Pushing the vanguard or enevelope is a bad thing?
    Certain artists will change the landscape...Louis Armstrong, Bird, Ellington, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Miles, Coltrane, Ornette, Cecil Taylor, Jamerson, The Beatles, Hendrix, etc blahblah & dare listeners to come aboard. It's a nice ride...if you dare.
    Ya gotta let it all go, Neo.

    It's not 'the Emperor's New Clothes".

    ***PUNCH IN***
    ...just read your comments in the "Does One Need To Read Music To Be A Great Musician"(or whatever). You mentioned Engineering School & the 12-year old savant.
    You mention you are still WORKING on & trying to figure out what he did. Why is this any different? In short order, it will take some work & effort on your part, the listener/student(I assume). It's a guarantee that we will be exposed to sounds that won't sate our own particular taste. As I mentioned above, Bitches Brew was 'terrible' to my then 18-year old ears. Eventually, I made a choice to investigate why I didn't like it(plus I was totally bored with everything else I had always liked to that point).
    I'm assuming(still) you didn't give this Jaco record a real chance...example: There's a pert in "Kuru" where he changes his 4/4 groove into a 3/4 groove while the drums stay in 4/4. That's the sorta thing that makes me go "Hmmmmmm, now that was happenin'".
    Anyway, I don't think me(or even Bruce) are trying to bust yer chops...right now, it's early here & I'm still on my 1st cup.
  10. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    My experience was identical when first hearing Jaco. And while I can't say I listen to him everyday, my feelings have changed dramatically over time.

    Download "Black Market" if you can, off the 8:30 CD. Listen to it CLOSELY about five times, realize that it's live and this guy is jumping all over the place - then come back and see if you still feel the same way. Also, as people already said listen to some other stuff too, he's done lots of work and some of it, well, I gotta say too - kinda sucks. If you watch him play at the end of his instructional video, IMO - it kinda sucks.

    The thing that got me about jaco was his impeccable groove as in the above song. It seems almost inhuman. Like a machine, but with heart. There's a lot of feel in the thousand notes a second he plays, unlike a lot of other bassists I've heard. I still have a rough time making the Stanley Clark connection (I think he plays blizzards of nonsense), and while I can appreciate Victor Wootens technique his music does squat for me. I listen to it once, go "WOW" and that's pretty much it. Jaco gets under my skin.

    Give him a fair chance, I think you'll look back at this post and say, "oops".
  11. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    [thread hijack]

    Sorry, my teacher told me this story about Jaco cutting the skin between his fingers, in order to have a bigger stretch...is this true? I heard about applying chickenfat on his fingers before playing, but this story seems a bit extreme to me...is it true?

    [/thread hijack]
  12. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Never heard that one.
    He did possess double-jointed thumbs...if that matters?
  13. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    Check out Jaco's playing on "Shadows and Light" by Joni Mitchell ecsp. "Dry Cleaner from Des Moines". Also his playing on "Bright Size Life" (Pat Metheny) is unreal. I do feel Jaco's tone was not exceptional, mostly due to the equipment of that era, but it's amazing how his playing is still ahead of his time today. And he did break major ground. His solo album was a gold record (the equivilent of platinum by today's standreds!) , can you immagine that today. He had substance abuse problems and unfortunently surrounded himself with hangers on instead of people interested in him as a person, he was also mentally ill in and era when cocain was more common then starbuck's is today. But, in my mind the music he made in his prime (Heavy Weather, Bright Size Life, the first solo LP and Invitation) still stand as some of the best bass Albums ever! And unlike many of todays "hot chops" players he could write and had a sense of melody. I think Victor Wooten is a tremendous player but I can barely listen to one of his CD's all the way through. I want to hear grove (with a drummer), melody, quanity of notes only goes so far. Jaco was selling out small arenas in his hey day!! He is still the standred!!
  14. Lackey


    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Dude - I suggest you re-listen to the tracks from Jaco Pastorius, start with Continuum, then move on to Portrait of Tracy, then listen to the whole album. NOTE, this still isn't my favorite album from Jaco, but you can't deny the power and soul in his playing. Opinions differ, but if you can't appreciate and enjoy Jaco on his first LP, I feel you are missing out, and are probably missing something as a musician.

    Ok, I'd personally recommend Pat Metheny - Bright Size Life and Weather Report - The Jaco years as great albums to get into Jaco with.

    Or, just download Weather Reports song Birdland, that's not too avante garde.
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I tend to agree - but if you remember that this is a bass site - that applies even more to bass playing and being a bass player.

    I remember when Jaco first appeared on the scene and everybody was trying to work out what he was doing - the audiences for WR gigs in the UK, had every pro bassist in the country watching!! ;)
  16. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    as well, we should have him transcribe the whole album, play it like Jaco and then compare with les claybowl or whoever he was talking about, but go back 27+years. While he's at it, he can transcribe some Jamerson.

    as usual, JimK offers great posts and points - it' also helps that he's older than dirt! :D ;) :)
  17. willgroove2


    Aug 16, 2003
    chicago IL
    Endorsing Artist;Essential sound products,Dunlop, Ergo Instruments
    i think that jaco's at that point in time where his impact on music and the bass,much like charlie parker,has become a such a part of the standared way of playing bass that newer people don't understand the impact it had.when i started playing the two names i used to see mentioned the most were stanley clark and jaco,so i went to sears and got my mom to buy me "school day's" and "jaco pastorious".i was 13 and hadn't heard much jazz so when i put them both on i loved the stanley clark because it was like funky rock,but didn't like the jaco record because i didn't understand anything he was doing,hell i thought he was playing upright.to tell the truth i didn't really get jaco until i had been playing and studying for a few years and could understand more complex thing's.
  18. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    (BTW, Bruce is older!)

    Not too badger Ravi...but-
    It's one thing to listen & say "I don't get it; why is that?"
    It's another thing to listen & say "It sucks".

    But hey, if it doesn't float your boat...
  19. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    So did Joe Zawinul.
    (In Zawinul's book...after hearing Jaco's demo tape, he asked if Jaco also played electric bass).
  20. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    Remember, Jaco did this in 1975.
    He was a inovator, he created something new, changed the way people looked at the bass.
    The hardest thing to do in music is create you own style.
    Thirty-years later, there are many who play like Jaco, but he was the first.