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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Jaco Pastorius "Modern Electric Bass": Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

This is an incredible interview with Jaco Pastorius, arguably the greatest bass player to ever live.  His bass playing is interspersed throughout the interview.  He was a transcendent talent that has inspired countless players of all instruments. The number of subjects he touches on is incredible.  He talks a lot about bass playing but his message also speaks to the mastering of any instrument.  Talk about someone who never accepted the limitations of his instrument. 

I particularly love his discussion about learning how to read music to such an incredibly high level.  One of his bands, Weather Report, had really intricate lines that many bass players can't even begin to read or process let alone play.  This exchange happens just a little ways into the interview:

Interviewer: "What did you use to get to that (high level of reading)?"

Jaco: "Believe it or not it sounds corny but just hard practice.  You've got to put in lots of hours."

He then goes on to describe reading anything he can get his hands on in any clef.  How many electric bass players practice reading out of books written in alto and tenor clef?! There is a reason he was such a virtuoso and it wasn't just the luck of the draw.  He also worked harder than just about anyone else.

There is more stuff in this interview than you can imagine.  I think you'll be riveted even if you've never touched a bass in your life.

The flow of his bass playing in this interview is inspirational for any musician but especially for a tuba player.  There truly are no limitations to any instrument if you simply insist there aren't any and then do the work to back it up.  What an inspiration!

Enjoy!