Sunday, June 22, 2014

Inspired by Jaco Pastorius during my younger years as a bassist

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. I went on to learn to play 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.

More than session work and writing/arranging for TV/Film, I loved playing in certain bands that played occasional gigs. The one I loved 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 many 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 rehearse and 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 giving tribute to 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 laid down a groove with distrinctive style. His death was a tragic loss for modern music.

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

A 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 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