Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Jaco Pastorius With Weather Report

I have a thing for the electric bass...and certain bassists...

I really didn't know Jaco Pastorius until I saw him on tour with Joni Mitchell in 1979, for what has become known as The Mingus Tour. What he added to Joni's compositions couldn't have been more perfect in atmosphere; nor his interpretations more stellar. And while I'm not, as a rule, heavily into the technical aspects of music, it's easy to recognize Pastorius's genius. Above all, he was an intense, soulful, passionate player. It is for those qualities I admire him most.

Pastorius is perhaps best known for his work with the jazz-fusion band Weather Report. He was with the band from 1977 until 1981. He is recognized as being responsible for the band's success in the late 70's and early 80's.

I knew a little about his life from having read and commented on what was at that time the first blog-style web page I'd ever seen. It was written by his wife Ingrid. I either never knew or had forgotten that he had bipolar disorder; of which I was reminded in the youtube comments. In his later years, Pastorius' drinking and drugging caused his mental health to reach a devastating level. He died as a result of injuries sustained in a confrontation with a nightclub bouncer.

This is a little tribute, if you will. Just because I felt like it. :-)


  1. nice, very nice. bittersweet tho.

  2. I saw Jaco play with Weather Report in Milwaukee, Wi, in... I don't remember what year it was. I'm pretty sure Heavy Weather had already been released.

    I've been playing fretless bass since 1980 and people always assume Jaco was my inspiration. Nothing could actually be further from the truth. While I acknowledge his technical skills and his influence on people's awareness of the instrument, I never was all that taken by his playing. Percy Jones (Brian Eno, Brand X, and others) was actually much more of an influence in my decision to play fretless, along with my belief that by playing fretless there is one less obstacle between the player and the sound he or she is creating.

    Regardless, it's tragic that Pastorious died so young and, if I recall correctly, he was virtually homeless at the time. Even though I wasn't a big fan, there is no denying his abilities, nor his significance in musical history. I really ought to revisit his work someday soon. I recently heard on my local listener sponsored radio station a recording of the Trio Of Doom (John McLaughlin, Jaco Pastorious and Tony Williams) and it was pretty darned impressive. Who knows what he would have done had he lived longer.

  3. Sherry: Yeah, Jaco is a tragic figure in many ways but like so many creative, mad people, he gave it his all.

    Ed: As I said, I'm not into the technical aspects of music in any big way.I think because I'm a huge Joni Mitchell fan and also Weather Report was reaching their fame in that period of the 70's when I was a teenager, I find something to reminisce about with Jaco. Also his connection to Pat Metheney , whom The Cunning Runt and I saw live many times, and that they both toured with Joni. I was so blown away by that concert, the first time I saw my musical hero, Joni Mitchell.

    I'm now inspired to check out your blog, as I'd forgotten you are a musician. Looking forward to it! And thanks so much for your comment. You added a lot to this discussion. Thank you.

  4. Thanks for posting this. My tastes have changed over the years and I expect I may find that I feel differently about his music than I did way back in the dark past. I certainly have found that to be the case with other artists. I'm now feeling inspired to see if I can appreciate his music better than I did when I was a youngster.

  5. Ed: there's so much music to explore. One of my favorite past-times. It's too bad that I can't figure out my MP3 problem. I have a friend who has said he'll look into this for me, but he keeps procrastinating a visit. I'm not expert in the music files department. I used to do great when I worked at an all Mac school. Everything was easier than a PC. Anyhow, I digress.

    I want to check into Brian Eno...I know there is a song or two that I know and like by him, will be fun to do a youtube search for him. Thanks. :-)

  6. Sorry about digressing from the original topic, but I did some poking around for Brian Eno stuff on YouTube a month or two ago and found that there was very little out there that is actually Eno. Lots of clips of other people doing Eno, singing along to Eno, putting their own video images to Eno.

    Probably my favorite Eno albums are Before and After Science and Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy. (B&AS is an unusual album in that, when listening to it on a vinyl record, each side has a different feel. The 2nd side has a moody, ethereal sound I like a lot, while the 1st side has a more pop/rock kind of feel.) I also like the David Byrne & Brian Eno album My Life In the Bush of Ghosts quite a bit. They're all pretty old, but I wouldn't think they would be too hard to find. You probably have some friends that own some of them.

  7. Hi, Ed
    Not a digression at all. We used to own a copy of bush of ghosts but I think my ex got it after we split up.
    We're friends, so he may loan it to me one of these days. Truthfully, I have little recollection of the music but I know I liked it.


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