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Jaco Pastorius

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I found this image over on the SH forums earlier today. It's in a discussion about the rock group KISS and vintage pictures of them without their makeup. Apparently Peter Criss was the drummer on this '79 album by tv's Lenny & Squiggy - though I'm not entirely convinced that's him.

But I did notice that the bass player looks like Jaco, at least to me. Does anyone know whether he actually did this gig or not? Seems curious, but I wouldn't put it past him.

Also interesting to see "Nigel Tufnel" on the credits, who as we all know would go on to play with Lenny/David St. Hubbins in Spinal Tap!

I found credits as....

Lenny (Michael McKean) - Guitar/Harmonica/vocals

Squiggy (David L. Lander) - Squigophone/vocals

Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest) - Guitar/Clarinet/vocals

Ming the Merciless (Don Poncher) - Drums

Lars Svenki (Murphy Dunn) - Keyboards

Dwight Knight (Steven Banderworth) - Bass/vocals

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Thanks for the info, Chris.

I dunno who "Steven Banderworth" is, but he sure looks just like Jaco to me!

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Thanks for the info, Chris.

I dunno who "Steven Banderworth" is, but he sure looks just like Jaco to me!

Pseudonym for contractual reasons? Looks exactly like Jaco.

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Thanks for the info, Chris.

I dunno who "Steven Banderworth" is, but he sure looks just like Jaco to me!

Pseudonym for contractual reasons? Looks exactly like Jaco.

That seems very possible. I Googled him and the only thing that came up was what I found for the Lenny and Squiggy album.

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Doesn't look that much like Jaco to me. Kind of like him, but not really. No "llama lips", as we used to say back when he first hit the scene...

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That's not Jaco. While this guy resembles him a bit, Jaco's facial features were more severe, more angular.

bigtiny

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That's my opinion too.

And Jaco play that bass? NO WAY. ;)

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I saw Jaco a couple of times in the 70s at The Greek Theatre in Berkeley. WR, and also w/ Joni Mitchell ( can't remember if Mike Brecker was there ). Jaco was electrifying -- there is no question who the vast majority of the crowd came to see.

I didn't see Jaco live in a nightclub, but I'm not sure I agree that Jaco was better in the studio -- after all, 4 of his best recordings are live ( Trilogue Live , Birthday Concert , Twins , 8:30 ). From what I've read , few jazz musicians ever enjoyed the luxuries of production Jaco did on Word Of Mouth -- so figure that into the mix.

I've read Mikowski's book twice and I think it's brilliant. I can understand why anyone who was friends with Jaco would perhaps would be dissappointed & angry because Bill just lays it all out -- all of his extensive experiences and knowledge about Jaco -- and the 2nd half is a painful read. But don't forget that Bill was a close friend of Jaco , just like Metheny , and much closer to him than Jaco's family. I don't think Bill did it for the money or the fame. I think it was both joyous & painful for him to write the book -- a true labour of love. Check it out for yourself and perhaps you'll agree with me.

In the 1st half of the book, Jaco's life is like a supernova. I grew up in the 70s , and I can see how Jaco was The Sun -- a kid from truly modest beginnings who fabricated his own dreams and propelled himself into the stratosphere on positive thinking alone. In my opinion, someone like Jaco comes along in this world maybe once a century. Miles wasn't a virtual rockstar in his 20s ... and what other jazz musican ever pulled that ?

The most interesting thing I read in the book is the recollection of a name musician who knew Jaco well that Jaco never equaled his form in '73-'74 in Florida when he was teaching at University of Miami, before he got famous.

My favorite Jaco is the playing on Trilogue Live in '76 which I find truly transcendental. My favorite Jaco composition is Liberty City.

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I just finished reading "This Is Your Brain On Music: The Science Of A Human Obsession," by Daniel J. Levitin.  (Good book, btw.)  In it, I found a discussion about Joni Mitchell and Jaco that I found fascinating:

Joni Mitchell had sung in choirs in public school, but had never taken guitar lessons or any other kind of music lessons. Her music has a unique quality that has been variously described as avant-garde, ethereal, and as bridging classical, folk, jazz, and rock. Joni uses a lot of alternate tunings; that is, instead of tuning the guitar in the customary way, she tunes the strings to pitches of her own choosing. This doesn’t mean that she plays notes that other people don’t—there are still only twelve notes in a chromatic scale—but it does mean that she can easily reach with her fingers combinations of notes that other guitarists can’t reach (regardless of the size of their hands).

An even more important difference involves the way the guitar makes sound. Each of the six strings of the guitar is tuned to a particular pitch. When a guitarist wants a different one, of course, she presses one or more strings down against the neck; this makes the string shorter, which causes it to vibrate more rapidly, making a tone with a higher pitch. A string that is pressed on (“fretted”) has a different sound from one that isn’t, due to a slight deadening of the string caused by the finger; the unfretted or “open” strings have a clearer, more ringing quality, and they will keep on sounding for a longer time than the ones that are fretted. When two or more of these open strings are allowed to ring together, a unique timbre emerges. By retuning, Joni changed the configuration of which notes are played when a string is open, so that we hear notes ringing that don’t usually ring on the guitar, and in combinations we don’t usually hear. You can hear it on her songs “Chelsea Morning” and “Refuge of the Roads” for example.

But there is something more to it than that—lots of guitarists use their own tunings, such as David Crosby, Ry Cooder, Leo Kottke, and Jimmy Page. One night, when I was having dinner with Joni in Los Angeles, she started talking about bass players that she had worked with. She has worked with some of the very best of our generation: Jaco Pastorius, Max Bennett, Larry Klein, and she wrote an entire album with Charles Mingus. Joni will talk compellingly and passionately about alternate tunings for hours, comparing them to the different colors that van Gogh used in his paintings.

While we were waiting for the main course, she went off on a story about how Jaco Pastorius was always arguing with her, challenging her, and generally creating mayhem backstage before they would go on. For example when the first Roland Jazz Chorus amplifier was hand-delivered by the Roland Company to Joni to use at a performance, Jaco picked it up, and moved it over to his comer of the stage. “It’s mine,” he growled. When Joni approached him, he gave her a fierce look. And that was that.

We were well into twenty minutes of bass-player stories. Because I was a huge fan of Jaco when he played with Weather Report, I interrupted and asked what it was like musically to play with him. She said that he was different from any other bass player she had every played with; that he was the only bass player up to that time that she felt really understood what she was trying to do. That’s why she put up with his aggressive behaviors.

“When I first started out,” she said, “the record company wanted to give me a producer, someone who had experience churning out hit records. But [David] Crosby said, ‘Don’t let them—a producer will ruin you. Let’s tell them that I’ll produce it for you; they’ll trust me.’ So basically, Crosby put his name as producer to keep the record company out of my way so that I could make the music the way that I wanted to.

“But then the musicians came in and they all had ideas about how they wanted to play. On my record! The worst were the bass players because they always wanted to know what the root of the chord was." The “root” of a chord, in music theory, is the note for which the chord is named and around which it is based. A “C major” chord has the note C as its root, for example, and an “E-flat minor” chord has the note E-flat as its root. It is that simple. But the chords Joni plays, as a consequence of her unique composition and guitar-playing styles, aren’t typical chords: Joni throws notes together in such a way that the chords can’t be easily labeled. “The bass players wanted to know the root because that’s what they’ve been taught to play. But I said, ‘Just play something that sounds good, don’t worry about what the root is.’ And they said, ‘We can’t do that—we have to play the root or it won’t sound right.’ ” 

Because Joni hadn’t had music theory and didn’t know how to read music, she couldn’t tell them the root. She had to tell them what notes she was playing on the guitar, one by one, and they had to figure it out for themselves, painstakingly, one chord at a time. But here is where psychoacoustics and music theory collide in an explosive conflagration: The standard chords that most composers use—C major, E-flat minor, D7, and so on—are unambiguous. No competent musician would need to ask what the root of a chord like those is; it is obvious, and there is only one possibility. Joni’s genius is that she creates chords that are ambiguous, chords that could have two or more different roots. When there is no bass playing along with her guitar (as in “Chelsea Morning” or “Sweet Bird”), the listener is left in a state of expansive aesthetic possibilities. Because each chord could be interpreted in two or more different ways, any prediction or expectation that a listener has about what comes next is less grounded in certainty than with traditional chords. And when Joni strings together several of these ambiguous chords, the harmonic complexity greatly increases; each chord sequence can be interpreted in dozens of different ways, depending on how each of its constituents is heard. Since we hold in immediate memory what we’ve just heard and integrate it with the stream of new music arriving at our ears and brains, attentive listeners to Joni’s music—even nonmusicians—can write and rewrite in their minds a multitude of musical interpretations as the piece unfolds; and each new listening brings a new set of contexts, expectations, and interpretations. In this sense, Joni’s music is as close to impressionist visual art as anything I’ve heard.

As soon as a bass player plays a note, he fixes one particular musical interpretation, thus ruining the delicate ambiguity the composer has so artfully constructed. All of the bass players Joni worked with before Jaco insisted on playing roots, or what they perceived to be roots. The brilliance of Jaco, Joni said, is that he instinctively knew to wander around the possibility space, reinforcing the different chord interpretations with equal emphasis, sublimely holding the ambiguity in a delicate, suspended balance. Jaco allowed Joni to have bass guitar on her songs without destroying one of their most expansive qualities. This, then, we figured out at dinner that night, was one of the secrets of why Joni’s music sounds unlike anyone else’s—its harmonic complexity bom out of her strict insistence that the music not be anchored to a single harmonic interpretation. Add in her compelling, phonogenic voice, and we become immersed in an auditory world, a soundscape unlike any other.

 

 

 

Edited by mjzee

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I thought that book was great and remember that passage as one of the highlights for me.   BTW I heard Levitin speak on an entirely different topic. he's a very smart dude. 

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I remember how "Donna Lee" played by Jaco Pastorius influenced a lot of bass players here. Mostly Fender bass Players. So guys who first were deeply into rock-jazz/funk got an interest in some be bop too. Both styles are great Music and it´s great how Jaco Pastorius could Play anything and could dig anything. 

About his collaboration with Joni Mitchell, well it seems Joni Mitchell was not so much on my Focus, Maybe because she could not be called a typical jazz singer, and that makes things very very hard for me. 

As everybody around here, all of us who bemoaned Mingus´ prematury death after there  was Nothing new left from Mingus bought that Joni Mitchell LP "Mingus" since we hoped to hear something Mingus still had composed and had somehow contributed to, at least mentally. This "Mingus" Album also has Jaco Pastorius on it, I think he even arranged one of the tunes, very fine. But Joni Mitchell, she just didn´t have the voice to sing "Mingus" , that´s my opinion, Maybe I´m wrong since many People dig her. It´s just not my Kind of Music, not the voice I "need" to hear…..

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