“It ain’t braggin´ if you can back it up”
– Jaco Pastorius
Question to Jaco Pastorius: “Would you ever consider playing a 5 string bass?”
Jaco answers: “What for? Low E’s been good enough for the last 200 years, what are you trying to prove?”
Jaco Pastorius is one of my absolute heroes in music. He was a fantastic bass player, multi instrumentalist, composer, arranger and a very sensitive human being. Unfortunately his life tragically ended when he was only 35 years old (September 21, 1987). In 1982 he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic depression).
It was Pétur “Island” Östlund (a great jazz drummer in Sweden) from USA/Island who introduced me to the music of Jaco Pastorius. When I was a Kid we were neighbors in a place called Kummelnäs located just outside Stockholm. Pétur was married to Anja Notini (Swedish writer and artist), and by that he got a stepson named Nicko Wallin and a common child by the name of Basse (also a good musician). Nicko became positive influenced by Pétur´s drumming (like most of the great Swedish drummers), and he was just 12 – 13 years old when we started to play together in a band that later become the fusion group Aura (band members were; Nicko Wallin, Peter Stedt, Björn Axelsson, Ulf Kronman and myself Torbjörn Fjeldgård Andersen). Nickos real father is Bengt-Arne Wallin (a famous Swedish jazz trumpeter, arranger and composer). Nicko is now using the name Nicci Notini Wallin since many years. But when we played together (1979 – 1983), he called himself Nicko. Pétur “Island” Östlund is famous for his seriousness about music and he has teached and helped many of the great drummers and musicians to develop their musicanship. Pétur have a very open mind for different kind of music and that was very stimulating when we were together. At the bottom on this page is a video of Pétur to give you a flavour of his musicianship.
In 1981 Weather Report had a concert in Stockholm at “Hovet”. It was the first time I saw Jaco Pastorius perform live (and it was a wonderful memory). The same night there was another great consert in Stockholm with a band called “The Brothers Johnson” who I will write about later. The Brothers Johnson worked together with Quincy Jones during the 70´s and 80´s (Louis Johnson on Bass and George Johnson on Guitar had a sofisticated funk style).
I have spent extremely long time listening to Jaco Pastorius music, reading books and magazines about him, talking with people who played with him (when I was travelling with my work in the US during the 90´s). On each trip, I spent days in various record stores to find all recordings that Jaco Pastorius been on. I managed to get all seven CD’s where Jaco playing “Live in New York City” with various configurations (and all the rest of his albums). Since I play bass, I remember when he released his first solo album (1976), which was and still is a musical masterpiece! Jaco played the bass very innovative in a way that no one else before him ever done. His timing, sound, harmonics and groove is “one of a kind”. I spent many hours practicing on my bass to songs like Donna Lee, Teen Town, Continium, Portrait of Tracy and others during my teens and even still today.
I spent some time 1990 in a small town called Boulder in Colorado. The company I worked for (Storage Technology) had the Head Office not far away from Boulder. Boulder is located at the foot of Rocky Mountaing and is a very nice and beautiful town with a great university. During one of my first trips to Boulder, I met a guitar player by name Lenny Charles. We were playing at some jam sessions (mostly Jimi Hendrix music) at a small club in Boulder. Lenny told me that he had lived in New York and played together with Jaco Pastorius for some time and that Jaco also lived with him in his car (a van). He then told me that Jaco had lost some very valuable master tapes during that time. When I some years later (in 1995) read the book about Jaco Pastorius (by Bill Milkowski), there was a part describing that period with Lenny. It was a strange feeling. These master tapes did show up in Japan and the bootleg album “Holiday for Pans” was released. The music is quite rare but there is another bass player on the CD, not Jaco. Jaco had focus on writing an album for Steel Pans and was sad because his record company (Warner Brothers) did not support him. I have attached bellow a video there you can see how Lenny Charles plays today.
When I was in Nice 2002 (I worked for an American company called Unisys), I spent some hours in a record shop called Le fnac. They had a great jazz department and due to all the jazz music I was buying, the person who was in charge for the jazz department, asked me if I was interested to listen to a local musician from Nice. I said of course yes, and he started to tell me about an incredible musician named “Marc Guillermont“. Marc had recorded three album until 2002 and one of them had a lot of influences from Weather Report and Jaco Pastorius. I was stunned about the music, and after a while, the man in the record shop told me that Marc was playing all the instruments by himself. How can one person play at the same level as a whole band? The man also told me that he was a close friend with Joe Zawinul and that he had played Marcs music for Mr. Zawinul and that his reaction was, “man, this guy is playing Weather Report better than we do”. When I came home to Sweden I wrote an email to Marc and asked him If it was possible for me to buy one of his albums that was not available any more. Marc answered me polite and fast with the result that I bought the album from him. We have since then being good friends and we met when I was working in Nice. Unisys owned a very nice hotel in a small village called Saint-Paul de Vence, just outside Nice. We arranged to meet the next time I went there and we both had dinner together and Marc invited me to his apartment where we played and recorded some music. Marc did play everything live. He played the drum part on the keyboard in real time (sounded like Peter Erskine) for the full song and with great groove and timing. Then he played some incredible bass parts, keyboards and finally guitar (his main instrument). He is also a saxophone player! I will write more about Marc later and share with you some great examples of his musicality, compositions and arrangements.
I could use many many hours presenting the music of Jaco Pastorius and stories about him. But for now, I will stay with these tasteful, rare and interesting examples below. I hope you are enjoying them as much as I do.
To give you an understanding about how and when Jaco started to play fretless bass, you should listen to this interview.
Allyn Robinson was Robert Sturcken’s radio guest on “Nightlife and Music with the Maestro” on The Lake 94.7 FM on January 31, 2012. Allyn discusses his time playing with Jaco Pastorius in Wayne Cochran and The C.C. Riders and shares several classic anecdotes.
Jaco Pastorius & Tommy Strand – “Higher” (1971)
Here is a 19-year old Jaco (Jocko) Grooving on a spectacular four minute extended solo. Over a funky tho-chord pattern Jaco has a ball playing around with the time as he is allowed to play indefinitely until Tommy Strand decides to reel hum back in. You can almost get inside Jaco’s head as you hear his ideas unfold one bar at a time. This is a rare opportunity to check out Jaco’s extraordinary beginnings as soloist
Jaco Pastorius with Wayne Cochran (band) in a rare recording (1972?)
This is the original “Three Views” written by Charles Brent that years later Jaco used (with permission) to the title for his song “Three Views Of A Secret”. This is a crude cassette recording of a very young Jaco playing Charlie’s tune when he was with Wayne Cochran.
Jaco Pastorius live with The Ira Sullivan Quintet(1973), very rare
Little Beaver feat Jaco Pastorius – “I Can Dig It Baby” (1974)
Jaco Pastorius, Pat Metheny & Bob Moses – “Bright Size Life” (1976) / Full album
Bright Size Life is Pat Metheny’s debut album, released in 1976 on ECM, when Metheny was only 21. It is notable for the maturity of its compositions as well as the strength of Metheny’s sidemen, as fellow fusion pioneer Jaco Pastorius was on bass along with drummer Bob Moses.
1. “Bright Size Life” (Metheny) — 0:00
2. “Sirabhorn” (Metheny) — 4:44
3. “Unity Village” (Metheny) — 10:14
4. “Missouri Uncompromised” (Metheny) — 13:54
5. “Midwestern Nights Dream” (Metheny) — 18:15
6. “Unquity Road” (Metheny) — 24:17
7. “Omaha Celebration” (Metheny) — 27:52
8. “Round Trip/Broadway Blues” (Ornette Coleman) — 32:10
Jaco Pastorius – “Jaco Pastorius” (1976) / Full album
1. Donna Lee 00:00
2. Come On, Come Over 02:27
3. Continuum 06:24
4. Kuru/Speak Like A Child 10:56
5. Portrait of Tracy 18:42
1. Opus Pocus 21:06
2. Okonkole Y Trompa 26:38
3. (Used To Be A) Cha Cha 31:03
4. Forgotten Love 40:01
10. (Used To Be A) Cha Cha (alternate take) 42:19
11. 6/4 Jam 51:09
Tom Scott with Jaco Pastorius – “Lost Inside The Love Of You” (from the album “Intimate Strangers”, 1978)
Jaco Pastorius & The Dixie Dregs – “12 Bar Blues Jam” (1982)
In September 1982 Jaco Pastorius joined the Dixie Dregs for three encore songs during one of their concerts. This energetic 12 bar blues-jam is one of them.
Jaco Pastorius and Mike Gerber performing jacos original “Las Olas” (1984)
Jaco Pastorius – “Mr. PC” *Rare recording*! (1985)
Live performance by Jaco Pastorius and his band. Jaco Pastorius (b), Azar Lawrence (ts), Jon Davis (p) Paco Sery (dr).
Videos with and about Jaco Pastorius
Joe Zawinul (1932 – 2007) and Marcus Miller talks about Jaco Pastorius (very nice)
They left out the part in this video with Joe Zawinul where he said; “get the fuck out of here”. Later they become very good friends and team mates in Weather Report!
Verdine White (Bass player with “Earth Wind & Fire”) talks about Jaco Pastorius and gives good advice to young bass players
Jaco Pastorius – 2010 Hollywood FAME Posthumous
Almost 27 years after his death, Jaco Pastorius still appears on magazine covers several times per year. His absence from this earth does not diminish his memory or his influence on multiple generations of bass guitarists. This video as a rare display of his work and the diverse nature of his various styles of playing.
Weather Report – Live at Montreux (1976) / Full Version
This video with Jaco Pastorius and Weather Report are in very high quality and shows a Jaco in a healthy and good shape.
Musicians are; Joe Zawinul (keyb), Wayne Shorter (sax), Jaco Pastorius (b), Alex Acuña (dr), Manolo Badrena (perc, voice)
01. Elegant People
02. Scarlet Woman
03. Barbary Coast
04. Portrait Of Tracy
05. Cannon Ball
06. Black Market
07. Drum And Percussion Duet
08. Piano And Saxophone Duet
09. Dr. Honoris Causa And Directions
Weather Report – “A Remark You Made” (1978)
Jaco Pastorius – Live at Montreal Jazz Festival (1982) / Full concert
Musicians are; Jaco Pastorius (b), Randy Brecker (tp), Bob Mintzer (sax), Peter Erskine (dr), Othello Molineaux (steel dr) & Don Alias (perc)
Jaco Pastorius – “Amerika” live at 55 Grand Club NYC (February 29, 1984)
Gil Evans Orchestra with Jaco Pastorius “Soul Intro, The Chicken & Bass Solo” at Live Under the Sky (1984)
When you see how Jaco looks like, you understand he was very special!
Jaco Pastorius, John Scofield and Kenwood Dennard – “The Chicken” from the instruction video “Modern Electric Bass” (1985)
The first thing Jaco says in this original video is “Gimme a gig” (not showing here)
Jaco Pastorius on piano – “Liberty City” (1985)
From the same instruction video above
Jaco Pastorius Band – “Dolphin Dance” (1985)
From a televised concert Jaco did in Belgium
Musicians are; John Davis (p), Paul Musavizideh (g), Paco Sery (dr), Jaco Pastorius (b), Azar Lawrence (ts)
Jaco Pastorius Band – “If You Could See Me Now” (1985)
Same concert as above in Belgium
Musicians are; Jaco Pastorius (b), Jon Davis (p), Paco Sery (dr)
Jaco Pastorius Band – “So What” (1985)
Same concert as above. Musicians are; Jaco Pastorius (b), Paul Mousavizadeh (g), Jon Davis (keyb), Azar Lawrence (ts), Paco Sery (dr), Toots Thielman (harm), Michael Hatzigeorgio (b)
Duo (Jaco & Toots) – “Three Views of a Secret” (1985)
Same concert as above. Jaco Pastorius (p) and Jean ‘Toots’ Thielemans (harm)
Jaco Pastorius solo “Chromatic Fantasy & Blackbird” live in Italy (December 1986)
A series of 10 rare videos with Jaco Pastorius being interviewed, gives me a strange and a little sad feeling (but what he says, has something behind it)
# 1 Jaco Pastorius
# 2 Jaco Pastorius
# 3 Jaco Pastorius
# 4 Jaco Pastorius
# 5 Jaco Pastorius
# 6 Jaco Pastorius
# 7 Jaco Pastorius
# 8 Jaco Pastorius
# 9 Jaco Pastorius
# 10 Jaco Pastorius
Interesting video mix with two masters, Jaco Pastorius and Michael Jackson
Special mix of sound and pictures about Jaco Pastorius
Inspired by the Einstein of Bass and the Bad Boy of Jazz: Jaco Pastorius, check it out & play it loud.
(Of course this is not the World’s Greatest Bass Player himself playing)
Lenny Charles on Guitar with “Buck Charles Band” (2012)
Pétur “Island” Östlund – A Short Ad-Lib in 5/4