Today marks the 25th anniversary of the passing of one of jazz music’s brightest lights in its rich history, Jaco Pastorius, who in his short life became as important a figure on his respective instrument, the electric bass guitar, as Charlie Parker had been on his saxophone, Jelly Roll Morton on the piano, Louis Armstrong on the trumpet, and Jimi Hendrix on the electric guitar.
For about ten years on the jazz/fusion scene, Pastorius pioneered sounds and a feverish, almost robotic attack to the instrument, creating sounds and an approach unlike anything heard before it or since. There were legendary figures on the instrument before him, who also became his influences – Paul Chambers, who played with Miles Davis; Charles Mingus; Gary Peacock; Dave Holland; Ron Carter – all masters of the upright bass, and the early figures on electric bass, famed session players like Jerry Jemmott and Tommy Cogbill, Paul McCartney and Donald “Duck” Dunn. But Pastorius took all that he learned, especially playing night after night in cover bands all throughout his home state of Florida growing up as a teen, and he made it original and jaw droppingly astonishing, bringing the bass guitar, usually relegated to the “backbeat” of a musical ensemble, to a lead instrument of sorts.
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