JACO PASTORIUS

by Jim Michaud
(Madawaska, Maine, U.S.A.)

Jaco on the fretless Jazz Bass

Jaco on the fretless Jazz Bass

I first picked up the electric bass in September of 1975. Although I loved music, it was more of a social thing than anything else. It did not take long for that to change,however. Gary Thain of Uriah Heep was the first one to floor me with his playing, to be followed not long thereafter by Chris Squire and Jack Bruce. These men, especially Thain, became my bass heroes, and gave me a playing standard to endeavor to attain. Heh, I even combed my hair like Thain. By the latter part of 1976, I was already envisioning doing something different and personally unique on the instrument. By early 1977, I had turned on to Alphonso Johnson, and what he had done with George Duke/Billy Cobham. Al was a huge influence, as was Stanley Clarke, not too long thereafter, not withstanding, I had much in the way of woodshedding to do, if i were ever to even remotely approximate the playing of these two great trendsetters of modern electric bass. As great as their playing was, and as much as their influence was strong, theirs were not the sounds that I was hearing in my head... AND THEN I HEARD JACO!!!!! It was a Saturday evening in around April of 1977, when I purchased "Heavy Weather" by Weather Report, not knowing what kind of a treat I was in for. When I first heard "Teen Town", my thoughts screamed out..." MAN, THAT IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN HEARING IN MY HEAD!!!!!" Since that night, I have viewed Jaco Pastorius as the beginning and the end of modern electric bass. What Jimi Hendrix did for modern electric Rock/Blues guitar, Jaco did for the modern electric bass. As revolutionary as the playing of Charlie Parker and John Coltrane was, so was the playing of Jaco Pastorius, and his contribution to modern music is of equal impact and significance to that of the three musical icons mentioned just now. Since the untimely and tragic passing of Jaco Pastorius, there have arisen hordes of phenomenally talented "killer" electric bassists, but he was the one that set the pace for the others to follow. Like Trane, Bird, and Jimi, his music lives on! Jim Michaud, Madawaska, Maine .

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