Jaco Pastorius (Weather Report, Joni Mitchell)


By Thomas Semioli

“I’m not a star. I’ll never be a Frank Sinatra or Elvis Presley or a Ray Charles. I’m just an imitator, man. I’m doing a very bad imitation on the bass of Jerry Jemmott, Bernard Odum, Jim Fielder, Jimmy Blanton, Igor Stravinsky, Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, James Brown, Charlie Parker… the cats, man. I’m just backing up the cats…” Jaco Pastorius


Jaco’s influence is, in a word, incalculable. Drawing on his deep reference for Cuban music (especially percussionists), jazz, rhythm & blues, Frank Sinatra, big-band, funk, rock, pop, soul, and every permutation thereof, Jaco brought an exciting, fresh voice to the instrument akin to his artistic peers Jimi Hendrix and Charlie Parker, to reference two.


On the technical side, Jaco’s virtuoso application of harmonics, chords, advanced harmonies, and lyrical improvisations all coaxed from a battered fretless Fender Jazz – known as the “Bass of Doom,” shook the foundation of popular music. On stage, he was a master showman.


Jaco’s work with Weather Report, Joni Mitchell, Ian Hunter, and as a solo artist and collaborator  remains watershed, and still inspires scores of players to this day.   


Kudos to film makers Paul Marchand, Stephen Kijak and Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo for telling Jaco’s story with the grace, dignity, and respect he so richly deserves (Jaco  – Passion Pictures / 2014).    


Jaco Pastorius Sound & Vision…


Jaco and Joni: “Shadows & Light”  https://youtu.be/bLKb9Ms68ME


Ian Hunter “All American Alien Boy” https://youtu.be/i9y7IIjS3Kk


With Weather Report


“Teen Town” https://youtu.be/a3113eNj4IA


“Birdland”  https://youtu.be/SvhmaNlLgRM


Solo Jaco:


“Donna Lee”  https://youtu.be/dGbCxcuNjBU


“Portrait of Tracy” https://youtu.be/IqndXUPBjIo