Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Jaco Pastorius & 9/11

I've recently been at a Billy Cobham show. Great technique. A real rhythm machine. Not so great when talking about emotions. Drum is a rhythm tool. Not a lead instrument. A drummer cannot be the main attraction in a band. The same is for bass guitar. It cannot be the lead instrument. Otherwise it could turn out to be really boring. This is the rule.

But any good rule has its own exception. In this case the only exception is an American guy quickly destroyed by his own madness during a short life dominated by any kind of excess. Jaco. For the ones with a minimum musical knowledge it's useless to tell anything else. Behind this name there is the greatest bass player ever. The only one able to break all the rules. The only one to turn bass guitar into a lead instrument. Simply incomparable.

Like it's said for Jimi Hendrix for Jaco Pastorius too is true that:"...the star that shines the double lives half time!". And his life has been too short. As soon as he did reach some fame madness started to appear. In a few months his decline has started. He introduced himself to Joe Zawinul as the greatest bass guitar player in the world. And he has shown to be it despite of the initial fu...ff received as an answer. With success he did also experience some mental disease that shortly took him away from the showbiz. And from his own life too. In the very last months of his life Jaco lived like a homeless. Without a dime in his pocket. Deeply addicted to alcohol and drugs. At the age of 35 he did meet his Death. Early. Too much early. And violently.

Jaco's legend started in 1976 when he was only 25. In that year he released his own masterpiece: Jaco Pastorius. This album kicked him directly into history. To hear Portrait of Tracy could be a shock. The way he plays the fretless bass, the deepness of his sound and the emotions coming out from his music could drive anyone to stop playing bass guitar. For ever. No human being can reach such a level. It's not a problem of technique. It's something related to feelings. No one can learn it! From this point he started many projects with well known musicians. Weather Report, Pat Metheny, Joni Mitchell just to name a few.

As long as his success got bigger also his mental disease did. Favored by the alcohol and drugs (ab)use. He always walked on the razor's edge. Until the final day. 9/11 is without any doubt related to NYC and the Twin Towers. Anyway also music has its own 9/11. On 9/11/1987 Jaco had a violent fight with a security guy outside a disco. He was seriously wounded and the result was his death after a few days. Twenty years ago, during another sad 9/11, has been killed the greatest bass guitar player ever. Jaco Pastorius. One & Only!

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