He lay motionless on the concrete, as if sleeping, his tangled shoulder-length hair ringed by a halo of blood. He lay there peacefully for a while, in the darkened alley in a strip shopping mall in Wilton Manors, Florida, on the morning of September 12, When the bouncer chased the man down the alley, the man threw a glancing blow at him. The bouncer shoved him and he fell backward, hitting his head on the concrete. Bruises were everywhere.
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He was the oldest of three boys born to Stephanie, his Finnish mother, and Jack Pastorius, a singer and jazz drummer who spent much of his time on the road.
His family moved to Oakland Park near Fort Lauderdale when he was eight. In , he began spelling it "Jaco" after it was misspelled by his neighbor, pianist Alex Darqui. His brother called him " Mowgli " after the wild boy in The Jungle Book because he was energetic and spent much of his time shirtless on the beach, climbing trees, running through the woods, and swimming in the ocean. He attended St. He was intensely competitive and excelled at baseball, basketball, and football. The damage was severe enough to warrant corrective surgery and inhibited his ability to play the drums.
Its deep, mellow tone appealed to him, though it strained his finances. He had difficulty maintaining the instrument, which he attributed to the humidity in Florida.
When he woke one day to find it had cracked, he traded it for a Fender Jazz Bass. After the concert, he approached keyboardist Joe Zawinul , who led the band.
After listening to the tape, Zawinul realized that Pastorius had considerable skill. Pastorius made his band debut on the album Black Market Columbia , , in which he shared the bass chair with Johnson. Pastorius was fully established as sole band bass player for the recording of Heavy Weather Columbia, , which contained the Grammy-nominated hit " Birdland ". This was the group that recorded his second solo album, Word of Mouth Warner Bros. While in Japan, to the alarm of his band members, he shaved his head, painted his face black, and threw his bass guitar into Hiroshima Bay.
Warner Bros. As alcohol and drug problems dominated his life, he had trouble finding work, finding people who would tolerate his shenanigans, and he wound up homeless. In , while filming an instructional video, Pastorius told the interviewer, Jerry Jemmott , that although he had been praised often for his ability, he wished that someone would give him a job.
A brain hemorrhage a few days later led to brain death. After serving four months in prison, he was paroled for good behavior.
Problems playing this file? See media help. Until about , most jazz bassists played the acoustic, upright bass, also known as the double bass. With the exception of the bass players in the trios Bill Evans led, bassists remained in the background with the drummer, forming the rhythm section, while the saxophonist, trumpeter, or vocalist handled the melody and led the band. Pastorius had other ideas for the bass player. He played an electric bass from which he had removed the frets. He played fast and loud, sang, and did flips.
He spread powder on the stage so he could dance like James Brown. He joked around and talked to the crowd. A self-described Florida beach bum, he often went barefoot and shirtless. He was tall, lean, and strong, and for someone who played sports the nickname "Jocko" fit. His thumbs were "double jointed" and his fingers were long and thin.
Natural harmonics , also known as open string harmonics, are played by lightly touching the string at a fret without pressing it to the fretboard, resulting in a note that rings somewhat like a bell. Artificial harmonics, also called false harmonics, involve lightly touching a string with one finger, then using another finger to play the note,  simultaneously playing and stopping the note.
He played these with a "movable anchor" thumb technique on the right hand, anchoring on the bridge pickup while playing on the E and A strings and muting the E string with his thumb while playing on higher strings. Pastorius played a number of Fender Jazz Bass guitars over the years, but the most famous was a Jazz Bass that he called the Bass of Doom.
When he was 21, Pastorius acquired the bass, which was modified to remove the frets. It is unclear when the frets were removed, as his recollections varied over the years. A common story is that he used a common butter knife to remove the frets, and sealed the fretboard with epoxy resin.
In the bass was repaired by luthiers Kevin Kaufman and Jim Hamilton, after it had been broken into many pieces. It was found in a guitar shop in , but the shop owner refused to give it up. The Pastorius family enlisted lawyers to help but nearly went bankrupt in Robert Trujillo , bass guitarist for Metallica , considered Jaco Pastorius to be one of his heroes, and he felt that the family ought to have the bass.
Trujillo helped pay to have it returned to them. These instruments were modelled on the Bass of Doom, with the Custom Shop version featuring a fretboard sealed with epoxy resin. He also controlled his tone color with a rackmount MXR digital delay unit that fed a second Acoustic amp rig. During the final three years of his life he used Hartke cabinets because of the character of aluminum speaker cones as opposed to paper speaker cones. These provided a bright, clear sound.
He typically used the delay in a chorus -like mode, providing a shimmering stereo doubling effect. He often used the fuzz control built into the Acoustic He has been called "arguably the most important and ground-breaking electric bassist in history" and "perhaps the most influential electric bassist today".
Who Killed Jaco Pastorius?
The program continues like that for three-quarters of an hour, each track heading off in a different direction -- each one a masterpiece that would have been a proud achievement for any musician. What made Jaco so exceptional was that he was responsible for all of them, and this was his debut album. Beyond his phenomenal bass technique and his surprisingly mature compositional chops he was 24 when this album was released , there was the breathtaking audacity of his arrangements: "Okonkole Y Trompa" is scored for electric bass, French horn, and percussion, and "Speak Like a Child," which Pastorious composed in collaboration with pianist Herbie Hancock , features a string arrangement by Pastorious that merits serious attention in its own right. For a man with this sort of kaleidoscopic creativity to remain sane was perhaps too much to ask; his gradual descent into madness and eventual tragic death are now a familiar story, one which makes the bright promise of this glorious debut album all the more bittersweet. Track Listing.
So why is everyone still talking about Jaco 30 years after his death? What made Jaco So Great? Voicings like which combine fretted notes with harmonics have become mainstays of the electric bass, and it was Jaco that brought them to our attention. Here, Jaco leaves his opening groove behind and gives us another great 2 bar vamp that combines propulsive 16th note playing with chromaticism and some simple, yet effective rhythmic displacement: Displacing the opening of bar 1 ahead by a 16th note transforms this from a stock Em funk groove into something special. After 12 bars of this, Jaco cranks out a variation on this line that gives a nod towards what would become a cornerstone of his style… 5.
He was the oldest of three boys born to Stephanie, his Finnish mother, and Jack Pastorius, a singer and jazz drummer who spent much of his time on the road. His family moved to Oakland Park near Fort Lauderdale when he was eight. In , he began spelling it "Jaco" after it was misspelled by his neighbor, pianist Alex Darqui. His brother called him " Mowgli " after the wild boy in The Jungle Book because he was energetic and spent much of his time shirtless on the beach, climbing trees, running through the woods, and swimming in the ocean. He attended St. He was intensely competitive and excelled at baseball, basketball, and football. The damage was severe enough to warrant corrective surgery and inhibited his ability to play the drums.