Thursday, April 26, 2007


I love bass players.

Whenever I listen to new music, I peel back the layers and try to find the bottom, the bedrock, the heartbeat of the band. Sure, those egotistical lead guitar freaks with their masturbatory ("I'll make it fit!") ten minute solos get all the glory, but it's those guys working in the background that are keeping everything together.

Who are my Gods? Jack Casady, Tina Weymouth, Larry Graham, Del Palmer, Booty Collins, and the great James Jamerson.

And Jaco Pastorius.

I think Jaco was the first four-stringed wizard who turned me into a drooling fanboy. One of the members of Weather Report, the groundbreaking jazz fusion group, it was his work on my favorite Joni Mitchell albums (Hejira, Shadows and Light, Mingus, and Don Juan's Reckless Daughter) that brought him to my attention. When I bought my first CD player, the first CD I thought worthy of this new technology was Jaco Pastorius, his solo album.

Jaco was a genius who broke the rules, made new ones up, and didn't pretend to be a lead guitarist. When an interviewer asked him once why he didn't play a six-stringed bass, he laughed contemptuously and said, "Why? I don't need to."

No, he didn't.