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A lesson from Jaco Pastorius

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by superjam144, Jan 24, 2021.

  1. superjam144

    superjam144 Tele-Afflicted

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    So I discovered Jaco this year. It was surreal... Who is this guy that everyone keeps talking about? The greatest bass player ever? What? What about Victor Wooten? Oh, Victor looked up to this Jaco? What?!?!

    So a couple things after diving into his music and being absolutely blown away.

    -Get a good tone, and stick with it.
    -Modulation can distract from being creative with your playing, a lot of the time you don't need it!
    -Music is much broader and complex than originally understood.
    -Don't limit yourself, Jaco played in bands for years of every style, and took a little from each one, musically.
    -Jazz is cool.

    I couldn't helped but be moved by his tragic and early death. Especially the brutal way that he died that night at the hands of a martial artist bouncer, who didn't know how to stop before it was too late... A life lesson that I gathered about family is that we need family more than everything else, and the fact that Jaco was estranged from 2 beautiful families is, in my mind, what drove him over the edge so to speak.. He needed to be with them and live life with them.. The road killed him!

    Any thoughts on Jaco?

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  2. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Jaco suffered from some untreated mental illness, exacerbated by drug abuse. mental health care is very hard to get if you don't have health insurance. sad end for a great musician.
     
  3. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    As a wannabe bass player, Jaco’s playing amazes me.
    He playing was so creative, confident, forceful and utterly unique.
    I first became aware of him after hearing Weather Report (Heavy Weather).
    I was about 20, and I was just beginning to explore jazz.
    When I first heard that album, I wasn’t even sure it was an electric bass.
    There’ll never be another like him.
    RIP, and thanks, Jaco.
     
  4. superjam144

    superjam144 Tele-Afflicted

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    Someone told me that he is a virtuoso in every genre, but with a sense of adventure. Really summed it up there.. He was very free and inventive. I think that is what is so impressive.
     
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  5. Allan Allan

    Allan Allan Tele-Afflicted

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    Can't stand his music. Loved the documentary.
     
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  6. 57fenderstrat

    57fenderstrat Tele-Holic

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    Love him , especially on Joni Mitchell’s hejira. Such a good album. Joni, Jaco, Larry Carlton! even Neil? So great
     
  7. Mad Kiwi

    Mad Kiwi Friend of Leo's

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    I used to feel the same but suddenly from a thread here last week have been enjoying listening to it out of the blue.

    I'm not sure if it's age or a new found desire to find music to just chill too.

    edit: AND it's kind of nice to listen to music I'm not compelled to study and try and learn how to play, no matter how badly. This just seems like a level beyond what I might be capable of or have the patience to add to the list of things I'm trying to learn!
     
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  8. Cadillac_Mike

    Cadillac_Mike Tele-Meister

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    That's like having a basketball lesson from Michael Jordan lol... "Hey kids it's easy; all you gotta do is win 6 championships and start your own shoe company!"
     
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  9. Dano-caster

    Dano-caster Tele-Meister

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    Always dug Jaco.I remember when he was killed, and it really bothered me . Read the book.Very troubled man who actually lived up to his proclamations.Just saw the video with Joni Mitchell,Pat Metheny and Jaco again and it was refreshing to see them all at their best.You gotta listen to Jaco to get Jaco. RIP...
     
  10. srblue5

    srblue5 Tele-Meister

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    Very true. I read somewhere it was bipolar disorder that he was suspected of having but don’t quote me on that.

    Very sad ending for an outstanding musician and composer who rewrote the textbook on bass playing.
     
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  11. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Love Jaco.
    I'm not sure now what all but I know I learned stuff from his playing and interviews.
    Harmonics on bass in particular, but that learning technique stuff is just a little side benefit compared to his musicianship and musical contributions to our community.

    The mental health stuff is tragically awful, how big he was compared to how little help he got when he really needed it.

    A reminder that when we see others suffering with those problems we might need to go out of our way to help them.
    Might have to drag them to a hospital even if they protest.

    And maybe it's a reminder to not condemn those who struggle with substance abuse and erratic behavior, since those could be signs a person is bad, or maybe signs a person is sick.
     
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  12. superjam144

    superjam144 Tele-Afflicted

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    Someone commented about this, saying in so many words, "where were all those friends of his, those jazz musicians??". Where were all the people who benefited from his enormous talent... As soon as he fell off the radar, he was abandoned by every single one of them..

    Perhaps he burned those bridges, but it makes me upset that he had noone that could have let him couch surf for a while until he cleaned his act up..

    For goodness sake, he could have joined any band in the world, or made his own and been a millionaire... Maybe the failure of his project "Word of Mouth", financially, with the big record label was enough to dishearten him permanently.

    Maybe he was travelling down a path that he devised on his own, in his depression and mental anguish, and before it was too late to turn back, he was destroyed...
     
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  13. DHart

    DHart Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    I've been thrilled by Jaco's playing for decades. Such rich tones, such melodic playing, sweet soloing all over the higher bass registers, harmonics, harmonies... he had it all! His playing was so un-bass-like. He made that instrument into something far beyond a basic bass instrument.

    Check out his work with Joni Mitchell, for example. Sublime!
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2021
  14. superjam144

    superjam144 Tele-Afflicted

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  15. Matt Sarad

    Matt Sarad Tele-Holic

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  16. Robert H.

    Robert H. Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Jaco’s influence is immeasurable. I try to catch Stanley Clarke every time he appears in the Bay Area. A few years ago I saw him at Yoshi’s in Oakland where he had another base player with him so Clarke could carry the lead on his bass. That’s straight from Jaco.
     
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  17. DHart

    DHart Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    In so many passages, his bass sounds like a horn. Unbelievably beautiful.

    Of course, Joni's music is so enchanting all on its own. She is such a musical genius. Few popular musicians are anywhere near in her league. We've got to do Joni in a thread all her own... such musical and lyrical genius is truly unparalleled.

     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2021
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  18. kLyon

    kLyon Tele-Holic

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    I met Jaco when I was 19, after a Weather Report concert in Gainesville, Florida. It was his first tour with them; he wasn't famous yet, but we had all heard of him: the word was out, at least in Florida.
    He went to a bar with me and a friend and spent two hours talking to us. It changed my life; he talked me into leaving journalism school and coming to Miami to study music. (Was it a great idea? Maybe not... ))
    The next time I saw him was a couple of years later, in Ft. Lauderdale. He remembered my name, a kid he had met just once a couple of years before. That's how he was.
    Then I wound up playing calypso with a bunch of steel drummers, one of who was Othello, a good friend of Jaco's. He started showing up at our gigs, and was always cool and encouraging, even though I was just banging out Yellow Bird and Matilda on the bass pans.
    I met Tracy once and Ingrid once, but didn't know either. They both were very nice; Tracy made a joke about how when Jaco was mad at her he would play Portrait of Tracy with the distortion turned up on his Acoustic 360. (Anyone who ever had one of those knows how that sounded...))
    After I moved to the West Coast in 1980 I never saw him again. He had begun drinking and getting high, but I missed the whole trip down and only heard about the New York period second hand.
    There's this: I've seen a lot of great musicians in my life, but I've never seen anyone better than Jaco. He was one of kind.
    It really hurt when he was killed and it still does.
     
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  19. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Many here know I'm in 12 step recovery, was a street level junkie in NYC, suicidal etc.
    Helping me was frustrating/ heartbreaking/ impossible until I was willing.
    Bystanders/ friends/ family, are unprepared for being the middle man between the sick and the doctors.
    All the reasons that could be listed, reasons in the sick persons head, none of them really matter. Just excuses.
    Almost like shopping for gear expecting it will make us play better, same as needing medical help for mental illness and making lists of why it's the wrong time or whatever. Different consequences, but similarly meaningless excuses for putting off what's needed most in favor of what's not needed at all.
    I don't blame his friends and associates, though the fact remains that something could have been done, it's just harder than even most medical professionals can manage.

    Musicians are in a hard hit community.
    We can carry his history as a reminder to be kind to the seeming crazies.
    They did not choose that for themselves.

    Anyone who knows someone in that sort of shape can go to a hospital and ask to talk to maybe a social worker or a psych nurse about getting a patient admitted for psych eval. If there's substance abuse involved you can call an AA or NA hotline and explain, sometimes they can have a few members do a 12 step call and just talk with the person, sometimes peer recognition sparks hope, or a few understanding folks can cajole the sick person into a trip to the ER for eval.

    Might sound nuts but I've done this sort of thing. Many of us in 12 step recovery were once where Jaco breathed his last breaths, and would go to the ends of the earth to pull a peer back from the brink.
    We are all so damn tired of watching friends die, many of whom are sensitive creative kind people.
    There's also Alanon and Naranon, programs for families of drug and alcohol abusers. They can help family help family, where often those closest are the worst helpers, and need some training in not guilt tripping or placing expectations etc.

    The thing with mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and depression is that sufferers tend to self medicate, so they fit right in to 12 step programs which are full of similar folks, but who got a combo of medical and peer support along with the 12 steps and etc etc.

    Anyhow, back to his gifts!
    Not all lives are long lives but Jaco brought a lot in his short run...
     
  20. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I read in an interview where he said he had played trumpet and applied the harmonics sequence from trumpet to bass, or something like that, where he learned to play harmonics on bass from trumpet.
    Not sure that's exactly true, I read that and hunted around on bass for harmonics; they're everywhere!
    I was also playing trumpet at the time I read his connection and I found no relationship between trumpet and finding the harmonics on the bass.

    My sense was that his head was so packed with high speed thoughts like a blender on puree, and his life was a sort of race to keep ahead of the noise in there.

    He really was an inspiration early on when I was looking for my own voice.
    He sure found his own voice!
    Or voices...
     
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