Thursday, July 2, 2009

Good Morning, Jaco....

Well as final exam day is upon me today (Jazz Apprieciation class), I decided that I wanted to share this beautiful gem with all of you.

Entitled "Portrait of Tracy" it is one of the most beautiful and moving  electric bass guitar solos that I have ever had the pleasure to lay ears on.

Pastorius was a true innovator in his craft -- utilizing harmonics on his fretless bass to turn the bass into a melodic instrument.  A big part of Jaco's genius is that he could make the bass "sing" unlike anyone that I have ever heard of.  Previously the bass had largely been a rhythm instrument -- but with Jaco , it was the main attraction.

It is not surprising that he was recently voted "The Greatest Bass Guitar Player Who Ever Lived" in a 2006 issue of Bass Guitar magazine.

The above track is taken from his self-titled debeut album (1976).  I have been listening trough  a lot of the tracks on that album and have just been completely blown away and moved.  If you want to hear something that will take your breath away -- then I highly suggest looking into this classic album (and his full discography for that matter -- it's all amazing stuff).

Pastorius moved on to create more amazing music as the bass player for jazz mega-group, Weather Report.

However, drugs, alcohol and severe mental illness shortened his life and career tremendously. Jaco was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder in 1982, but had since been nursing a bad alcohol problem well before that diagnosis. 

 Towards the end of  his life he was  living on the streets -- pretty much out of his mind from all of the drugs and the mental instability. He died tragically in 1987 as a result of head injuries he received in a fight with a bouncer at the  Midnight Bottle Club (Florida).

He was only 35 years old. 

If there really is a fine line between insanity and genius -- then I believe that Jaco ultimately personified a life spent tip-toeing on top of that line.

Still -- there is no denying the musical legacy he left us with.  His technical innovations opened up a world of possibilities for bass players and musicians everywhere and the music that he left us with is just astounding.  

Definitely pick up this guy's albums and do a little homework on him some time.  He's definitely worth the listen and the investment of your time. :)


  1. he changed the world with only four strings... be sure to listen to his cover of Charlie Parker's Donna Lee :)

  2. I completely agree. I will definitely have to sit down and listen to his Charlie Parker cover. Thank you for the heads up! :)