Jaco Pastorius is one of the more influential musicians of the 20th century. If you’re an electric bass player, you know Jaco is the most influential musician of the 20th century.
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His sound and musicality changed how the electric bass is played. You can still hear Jaco’s sound, his techniques, and his licks in many different styles of music today, from hip hop samples to hard rock to jazz and pop. Check out his discography, and don’t forget to search for Weather Report, too. The tune below is on one of their best albums, Heavy Weather.
I don’t know much about how Jaco practiced, but I do know he grew up in a musical household (his dad was a big band singer and drummer), and that Jaco also played drums until a hand injury forced him to take up the bass. I like to think that Jaco’s early rhythmic practice on drums can be heard his bass playing style.
It’s tough to overestimate Jaco’s contribution to our current musical soundscape, especially for those of us who weren’t hip to him (or even alive) when he came on the scene in the mid 70s. Take it from an early bandmate, Pat Metheny, who wrote a wonderful bio on Jaco. The dude’s approach was completely unprecedented.
When choosing a video for this post, I went with the iconic tune Birdland, from Jaco’s time with Weather Report. Yeah, there are other tunes that show more of his technique, or obscure tunes that hipsters wouldn’t scoff at, but I don’t care. I love this tune, and will always love this tune. In this live version, Jaco is killing it, as usual.
Thanks, Jaco, and happy birthday.
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