Name a player who could....

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by misterCRUSH, Jun 7, 2020.

  1. misterCRUSH

    misterCRUSH It's all's ALL jazz...

    Dec 27, 2015
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    i am always looking for bassists i haven't discovered. i know i will be getting a lot that i know as answers, but maybe some will surprise me.

    Name a player (past or present) that could sight read Jaco's Portrait of Tracy.

    Thanks :)
  2. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    I would contend that that's kind of a trick question: Any bassist who has the skill to sight read Jaco Pastorius' solo bass arrangement of "Portrait Of Tracy" is already familiar with "Portrait Of Tracy" ...because as a student of bass evolution you would have to have your head buried in the sand to not be aware of that milestone in the instrument's development. And so they wouldn't really be "sight reading" it, and it's entirely plausible that they've already played the tune at some point in their life.

    But if you asked about sight reading a new, unknown composition that is technically and stylistically similar to "Portrait Of Tracy" I would venture that Jimmy Johnson, Jeff Berlin, Hadrien Feraud, and Ric Fierabracci could probably sight read it.

    And if we include upright bassists, I would bet that Marc Dresser could sight read it with his eyes closed! :)
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  3. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    Bob has a good start to the list. It will probably end up numbering in the hundreds.

    I'll suggest Michael Manring
  4. FrenchBassQC

    FrenchBassQC Supporting Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    Gatineau QC CA
    A few of them from Brazil...
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  5. Sursonique


    May 17, 2020
    Any bassist or musician for that matter who has trained extensively in Solf├Ęge can sight read it. I trained for years in a classical conservatory. I can sight read Portrait of Tracy or any piece of music however complex it might be...

    Now playing it just like Jaco is a totally different thing
    garp likes this.
  6. The thing about "Portrait of Tracy" (PoT) is that it's not actually very difficult to sight read, except for all the *@%# harmonics! Some of the harmonics are in between frets, and some of them are artificial harmonics. So there are probably quite a few bassists, who are top-tier musicians and expert sight-readers, but who would struggle to sight-read PoT because they don't have the niche skill set of an encyclopedic knowledge of harmonics.

    I bet you there are lots and lots of bassists, who could easily sight-read PoT on the piano (assuming the harmonics were notated as they sound, at concert pitch) but who wouldn't be able to sight-read PoT on the bass, for technical reasons. Or another way of phrasing it, in my opinion, PoT is easy to sight-read (in the sense of looking at the sheet music and knowing what notes to play) but difficult to sight-perform due to its technical challenges.

    In my opinion, a much better test of a bassist's musicianship would be, can they sight-read something like "Donna Lee"?