I might be a little biased in the type of musician’s I choose to write about, but I don’t care. Which means, today, another bass player. Sorta. This guy was more than a bass player. One of the best players to have ever lived, A fantastic big band leader, an amazing composer, a noteworthy producer, and A psycho.
This edition of That is Ridiculous has been somewhat difficult for me to get out. I started writing this on Tuesday June 19th and it is now Thursday June 21st and I still don’t have it done. The reason this is so hard, Jaco! Jaco was an inspiration to just about every bass player out there. “I think I succeeded in finding my own sound, but I think it’s obvious that Jaco is a big influence when you hear me play (at least sometimes).” -Marcus Miller-
Jaco’s playing style grabbed everyone’s attention right out of the gate. His first Album, Jaco Pastorius (1976) got him two Grammy Award Nominations. (When the Grammy’s still meant something.) And Jaco was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1988. He was one of only four bassists get the honor, and the ONLY electric bassist to get the award.
Jaco has played with Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Joni Mitchell, Trio of Doom, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Word of Mouth, Al Di Meola, Ian Hunter, Biréli Lagrène, Mike Stern, Flora Purim, and Airto Moreira.
Sadly, in 1982 Jaco was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. His behavior and antics kept getting stranger and more erratic. There are rumors of him stripping naked on stage and coloring his face with magic marker…
September 11th, 1987 Jaco sneaked on stage at a Santana Concert, he was thrown out of the concert. He then went to the Midnight Bottle Club, where he and the bouncer Luc Havan got into a fight. Jaco was put into the hospital where he slipped into a coma. And on September 21st, 1987 Jaco Pastorius died of a brain hemorrhage. Luc Havan plead guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 22 months in jail, he served four of those months and was released on good behavior.
I know these articles are usually short. But I had to say more! IT’S JACO! All I can say, go listen to all the Jaco you can. Read what he had to say. Learn from him. He was such a great bass player it would be a shame to not learn from him.
Jerry Jemmott: “Any advice for musicians, young and old?”
Jaco: “Just to keep your minds open, keep an open head about music…
I grew up in Florida where there is no real musical prejudice,
there was all sorts of music, everyone was playing everything
from Cuban music to symphonic music…keep listening…
keep your ears open…”