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Jaco Pastorious

Ok, I could go on and on about the current bizarre political-financial situation in America as we ride up to the election. But, frankly, I’m spent. I’ll spare you a rant.

Instead, I’d like to pay a brief tribute to Jaco Pastorious, arguably the greatest and most influential bass player of his generation. He suffered from various mental problems that grew exponentially as they were augmented by drug and alcohol addictions. He tragically died at the age of 35 in 1987 from head injuries suffered at the hands of a bouncer. The controversial life of this gifted musical prodigy is well-documented (to the extent that it can be) elsewhere.

But, man, when he was on he was ON. He worked with luminaries like Josef Zawinul and Wayne Shorter in Weather Report (my personal favorite album from them is Night Passage, but I think I’m essentially alone in that opinion) as well as Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, and John Scofield. He also worked with Jodi Mitchell, including her famous Charles Mingus tribute work. Jaco was a brilliant composer in his own right and he simply shines on his own solo albums.

Here are some tasty YouTube selections I hope you enjoy. Some are a bit long, so take your time groovin’ with Jaco.

Birdland was Weather Report’s only “hit” (made even more famous by The Manhattan Transfer):

“The Chicken” Jam with John Scofield and Kenwood Dennard + interview + Amerika, a tonally and technically complex bass solo riffing on America the Beautiful. There’s also a nice bit at the end showcasing his gifts on the piano:

Teen Town live with Weather Report. It has serious lead bass melody that makes your head spin:

One of his famous bass solos circa 1978:

A Fanny Mae jam (how appropriate) with Jimmy Page (!!) at the Lone Star Cafe, New York City, NY April 30, 1985! (audio only). The story from the YouTube page:…Here Jimmy Page sits in with Jaco. Jaco introduces him saying “In case he’s still in the house, I heard a rumor that Jimmy Page would like to sit in with us.” At the conclusion of the jam the crowd calls for more. Jimmy Page responds “Hey listen, this mans a monster, I really came to hear him play, not me”.

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