Sunday, June 22, 2014

Forever Inspired by Jaco Pastorius

Many of my business associates and even many of my close friends have no idea I was a professional bassist for many years.

My first paid gig as a bassist occurred in the 8th grade, which in the music biz, made me a professional musician on that night in 1977. I went on to learn the basics of other instruments, like piano, guitar and drums. I was interested in learning composing & arranging like my early music mentor, Shorty Rogers. I had thoughts of someday becoming a professional studio/session musician.

Shorty guided me into spending two summers between junior high and high school, studying jazz and playing bass at the Stan Kenton Jazz Clinics, which was a summer camp for high level jazz music. I got to learn from wonderful jazz educators such as Hank Levy, Leon Breeden and Stan Kenton.

Later, I went on to study bass under legends like Ray Brown and Max Bennett. I eventually ended up studying Jazz Composition & Arranging at Dick Grove School of Music, a leading music school of it's day, situated not far from the major film, TV and music studios of the West Coast.

Up until my mid twenties, I played in a wide variety of amazing bands and did some session work. Thanks to Shorty and his son Michael Rogers, I got to work as a bassist on enough film & TV sessions, and some advertising campaigns that I fell into through other channels, to realize session work for advertising, TV and films was not exactly what I wanted to do.

The band I loved playing in the most was a high energy be-bop jazz trio with a truly amazing guitarist named Bob Williams. Bob was one of the most gifted players I have ever known, even though I have not heard about him for close to 30 years now. I loved it with Bob on guitar, me on bass and a rotating list of drummers that included one of the finest drummers in the world to this day, Steve diStanislao, who currently plays with Crosby Stills Nash and on David Crosby's solo gigs. And, we often played with another wonderful drummer named Pete Pfiefer who was so subtle with his with his excellence. Occasionally we would organize a quartet or a quintet adding keyboardists and/or sax players that included super guys like Karl Denson who got famous playing for Lenny Kravitz. And there was a saxophonist I loved to gig with named Doug Webb who is making the jazz charts these days. And, there was another great sax player named Kenny Flood who I enjoyed playing with very much. All these guys were great musicians who taught me a lot. There were many thrills. I had the time of my life.

That is a small part of my life as a bassist that leads me up to introducing Jaco Pastorius, one of my favorite bassists.

I still remember the first time I heard Jaco's bass playing. It was extremely humbling and inspiring at the same time. Every bass player I knew was trying to cop Jaco's groove, but nobody had it like Jaco.

As most bassists know and artists who got to play with him knew, Jaco Pastorius was one of the most prolific electric bassists in the history of electric bass, if not the greatest. He is at the very least in very the top few genius level bassists ever. I believe that everybody has some potential for hitting their inner genius. Jaco tapped his.

Everything Jaco played was different from that of other players. He was always unique and lead the groove with style. His death in 1987 was a tragic loss for modern music.

The first video below is a treat for those who know about Jaco's music, but who have never had a chance to hear Jaco speak at any great length. For any bass player wanting to learn, this video is it! It is also a unique window into what mattered to Jaco musically, as well as other parts of his life. The video also shows, up close, how he developed and carried out his technique that delivered his trademark sound.

Jaco played with a wide variety of artists and groups. I really liked his stint with Pat Metheny.

Another neat Jaco performance is with Joni Mitchell in 1979 on her Shadows & Light tour at the Santa Barbara County Bowl. Watch the full concert at this link:  TheQuietStorm.Com/2014/05/shadows-and-light.html

Just below is one of the first Jaco songs I had heard just after it came out. The song titled Come On Come Over was track #2 on his 1976 solo debut simply titled JACO PASTORIUS. This song had a very cool, funky and soulful sound that I still love. It came out around the same time I was getting more interested in Weather Report, a great band that Jaco had joined and helped their popularity quite a bit, in my opinion.

Jaco Pastorius - Come On, Come Over

But, Jaco with Weather Report was pretty fantastic. It was probably his best stuff.

Weather Report - Birdland (Live in Offenbach, Germany, Sept. 29, 1978)

And here at that same concert in Germany, he blows everyone's mind, with his use of loops (the way artists like Bernhoft now copy). Listen to the audience go crazy at the end.

Weather Report - Third Stone from the Sun

And, yet some more excellent concert takes of Jaco performing with Weather Report Montreux Jazz Festival in 1976.

Weather Report - Elegant People (Live At Montreux 1976)

Weather Report - Black Market (Live at Montreux 1976)

Weather Report - Badia (Live at Montreux 1976)

Connect direct with Jaco's official legacy website at JacoPastorius.Com


Friday, March 21, 2014

Quote of the Century (For artists of substance)

"The truth is, if you're afraid to be hated, your art is going to be worthless."

Quote by Bob Lefsetz from his March 18, 2014 post on The Lefsetz Letter titled Being Liked.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Trixie Whitley

Photo of Trixie Whitley by Gregory J Chamberlain

Had one of those months where a song is heard and played dozens of times a day since love at first listen struck. Went to a early December show to see Trixie Whitley at The Satellite in Silverlake. Was already a huge fan of her songs and had never seen her live, but had featured her music videos on MusicLoad.Com, MusicTelevision.Com and TheIndies.Com more than a few times. After the show, bought all of her fan swag including 3 albums, a t-shirt and poster, which is very rare to go overboard like that, but she was just that good live and more that imagined. One of the albums had a live recording of that song not yet heard. It is titled "Breathe You In My Dreams". It was a stripped raw version with just Trixie on the piano (like the take in this first video below) and her seriously passionate voice. It set the hook and it has dominated the stereo systems and headphones all month long.

Finally found the studio version of Breathe You In My Dreams that was released on her most recent Fourth Corner album. The recording as well as the official music video shot by photographer Anton Coene is total excellence. Can't get great songs like this out of the mind.

Trixie Whitley Photo by Gregory J. Chamberlain

I shot the above photos of Trixie Whitley and all rights are reserved and © by me, Gregory J. Chamberlain.
 Please ask for permission before reallocating them, or I will hunt you down and chop off your willie, for reals.