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  • Kristian K Lassen

BassTalk 28.12.2022

Jaco Pastorius is another one of the bass players who had a decisive influence on my way of understanding the instrument. In 1987 I lived in a small studio apartment in Overgade in Odense just opposite the old inn. I was young and thinking about music all day long. I practiced bass when I was at home in my room and listened to music when I went out at night among other places at the legendary Hansens Værtshus where there was always someone playing live. It was during this period of my life that I began to work more purposefully with my musicianship. Until then I had been primarily a musician by virtue of my membership in the band I had been a part of since my teenage years. The last reincarnation of this band was called Blue Chip and by the time we had produced our first vinyl record the energy was spent and we went our separate ways. Some went on to higher education I continued with music and small temp jobs in daycare centers. Well, back to Jaco Pistorius. The first time I saw his name was in a short obituary in the music magazine Rolling Stone in 1987. It was mentioned that he saw himself as the world's greatest bass player which made me curious to hear his bass playing. Next to it was a photo of Pastorius in which he had a very charismatic expression in his eyes. At that time we had a record store in Odense called Van Rock. The store was located in Vesterbro and distinguished itself by not selling any kind of disco. On the other hand virtually every other genre was represented and they also had a copy of Jaco's solo record, simply called Jaco Pastorius from 1976. It is said that the streets of New York were empty of bass players when it came out in 76'. Everyone was at home trying to figure out what Jaco was playing on that record. Jaco was first and foremost a bassist who played very lyrically. It was often as if he almost painted beautiful brushstrokes in response to other musical statements in the soundscape. Jaco himself said that he briefly played double bass but due to a shoulder injury he had to switch to electric bass. Here he chose a Fender Jazz Bass from which he removed all the frets to get the fretless sound that you also have on a double bass. Now a days there are plenty of electric basses that are built as fretless instruments. The Fender Jazz Bass has the advantage of having 2 pickups (microphones) on the bass which gives you more sound options. To get the nasal Jaco sound you have to turn down the front pickup a little and play close to the chair. It gives a nasal mid-tone sound that is a bit like a horn instrument. Check out 'Come On, Come On Over' from his solo debut. Jaco was also known as a member of the jazz/fusion band Weather Report. Listen to to 'Birdland' from 1977. Personally, I think Jaco did some of the most beautiful work with Joni Mitchell. Check out the album 'Hejira' from 1977, or the fantastic live album 'Shadows And Light' from 1980. Jaco Pastorius formed a school within modern electric bass playing via his sound, creativity and his lyrical playing, almost like a painter who paints with tones. To this day, it is still the case that as a serious bass player you have to deal with Pastorius and artistically speaking he is one of the greatest in my bass book.


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