These are WristRock's selection for the Grand Masters of Bass covering all genres of music. The criteria? Influence
on other bassists,
Innovation (creativity of bass lines), Technical Skills (speed, precision, versatility of time
Style (slap and/or fingerstyle techniques, pocket work and solo capability). We categorized the remaining
Best of" into Top 10 Bassists of Rock, Metal and Jazz . We combined Jazz, Fusion, Blues and R&B simply as "Jazz".
After sneaking onstage at a Santana concert on September 11, 1987, and being
ejected from the premises, Kaxo went to the Midnight Bottle Club in Wilton Manors,
Florida. After reportedly kicking in a glass door after being refused entrance, he got
into a fight with the club bouncer, Luc Havan. Jaco was hospitalized for multiple facial
fractures and injuries to his right eye and left arm from being thrown through glass
doors..He fell into a coma, developed a brain hemorrhage and died 10 days later on
September 21, 1987. Havan  was arrested and sentenced to 22 months  with five
years probation, but was released after only 4 months for good behavior.
(Remember, this
is Florida we're talking about....)
John Francis Anthony "Jaco" Pastorius III was born in Norristown,
Pennsylvania and grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His father
was a big  band drummer and Jaco also began his music career as
a drummer. ,After a football injury in high school making playing
drums nearly impossible, he picked up an electric bass for $15 at a
pawn shop and joined the band,
Las Olas Brass.
1976 saw Jaco guest on many diverse recordings including Ian Hunter (Mott the Hoople) on All American Alien Boy, Joni
Hejira album, and an incredible solo LP by Al Di Meola. After Mr. Gone (1978), Weather Report's 8th studio
album, he went on to perform on three critically-acclaimed Joni Mitchell LPs:
Don Juan's Reckless Daughter (1977),
Mingus (1979) and the live album Shadows and Light (1980), His high-neck bass solos were also a force in Airto
I'm Fine, How Are You? (1977) and Brazilian Jazz vocalist, Flora Purim's Everyday Everynight (1978)
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Before he left Weather Report in 1981, Jaco dabbled in a few
pop-oriented jazz albums. His last album,
Holiday For Pans, recorded
from 1980-1982, was not even released. After this experimentation in
pop-jazz, Jaco pursued a big band solo project,
Word of Mouth, with
Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Hubert Laws, Chuck Findley (trumpet),
reed man
Tom Scott, tuba player Howard Johnson, Jack DeJohnette and
Peter Erskine (on drums) and harmonica virtuoso, Toots Thielemans.
This project allowed Jaco to express his writing and production talents
and focused more on his skills as a composer than on his virtuoso
playing, like in the lengthy
Liberty City and John and Mary. In 1982,
during a tour of Japan, the albums
Twins I and Twins II (combined in the
US into one album,
Invitation) was compiled. After the release of
Amerika" (1982) and a full set filmed at the 1982 Montreal Jazz Festival,
Word of Mouth disbanded in 1984.
His fretless bass style was unmistakable. The "Jaco growl" was achieved by
using the bridge pickup exclusively, and plucking the strings right above the
bridge. His innovations included the use of
natural and false harmonics (as in
Portraits of Tracy").
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Some great collaborations were with John McLaughlin, Bireli Lagrene, and Flora Purim.
Jaco's world began to change when diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. Strange behavior
became more frequent... from shaving his head, to painting his face black, to throwing
his bass into Hiroshima Bay. Alcohol abuse exacerbated the condition, leading to
increasingly erratic behavior. By 1986, he lost his home and often lived in the streets.
Jaco  Pastorius
Pg 1
December 1, 1951 - September 21, 1987
At only 19 yrs old, after stints with Wayne Cochran & The C.C.
Riders and a 9-piece R&B band,
Tommy Strand & Upper Hand,
Jaco hooked up with jazz guitarist and lifelong friend Pat Methaney.
Their first recording,
Bright Size Life, with Pat and Bob Moses in
1974, was a trio album. In 1976, Blood, Sweat & Tears drummer,
regarded as the best electric bass album and one of the most
innovative ever recorded by a bass player..
Yes, They SaiD It...
  • "Jaco Pastorius may well have been the last jazz musician of the 20th century to have made a major impact on the
    musical world at large." --- Pat Metheny, liner notes to the 2000 reissue of  the debut album, "Jaco Pastorius",
The album included "Okonkole Y Trompa" with Don Alias (drums) and Peter Gordon
(French horn), a cover of Miles Davis' "
Donna Lee",, "Kuru/Speak Like a Child" with
Herbie Hancock and "
Opus Pocus" with Wayne Shorter and "Come On, Come Over"
with David Sanborn. The album consisted of bold arrangements and an eclectic array
technique. His solos in the higher registers and the fat, colored tones that turned into
his distinctive
growl like on "Cha Cha", popularized the fretless electric bass, and
turned the bass into one of the most expressive instruments of the fusion era. Jaco's
dense, eerie chords and harmonics, combined with his rhythmic and textural playing
is still unmatched by contemporary bassists.
Jaco Pastorius (1976)
Word of Mouth (1981)
The Birthday Concert (1982)
Invitation (1983)
Black Market (1976)
Heavy Weather (1977)
Mr. Gone (1978)
8:30 (1979)
Night Passage (1980)
Weather Report (1982)
Bright Size Life w/ Pat Metheny (1975)
All American Alien Boy w/ Ian Hunter (1976)  
Hejira w/ Joni Mitchell (1976)
Land of the Midnight Sun w/ Ai Meola (1976)
Don Juan's Reckless Daughter w/ Joni Mitchell (1977)
Sunlight w/ Herbie Hancock (1978)
Mingus w/ Joni Mitchell (1979)
Shadows and Light Live w/ Joni Mitchell (1979)
Mr. Hands w/ Herbie Hancock (1980)
This is a tribute video from his peers. Miles Davis honored on his album Amandla with the Marcus Miller composition  
Mr. Pastorius", as Jaco was an inspiration for Marcus Miller. Victor Wooten, #2 in our Top 10, also honored Jaco on
Soul Circus with the track "Bass Tribute", thanking Pastorius several times. Wooten and Steve Bailey's Bass Extremes
includes the tracks "
Glorius Pastorius", "Portrait of Tracy," and also a tribute to Pastorius' interpretation of Miles Davis's
"Donna Lee" titled
"Madonna Lee". The Pat Metheny Group also honored him on their album Pat Metheny Group with
the track "
Jaco joined Weather Report in 1975 and played on the cuts, "Cannonball" and "Barbary Coast", on the album, Black
co-producing credit with Joe Zawinul and played drums on his own composition, "Teen Town." If this just whet your
appetite for Jaco's years with Weather Report, we offer you the entire 1978
two-hour live concert  from Offenbach,
Germany featuring Jaco on bass with Joe Zawinul (keyboards), Wanye Shorter (tenor and soprano sax) and Peter
Erkskine (drums). Enjoy!
Live in New York City, Vol. 1: (1990)
The '82 Birthday Concert
A number of posthumous releases represent some of Jaco's greatest stage moments.
The Birthday Concert is a  live album by Jaco recorded in Florida in celebration of his
30th birthday. The album was released pby Warner Bros. in September, 1995.
(1986) is the best of Pastorius' post-big-band live recordings. The CD features the
only available live recordings by Pastorius of "
John and Mary," Herbie Hancock's
Speak Like a Child," and  "So What?," by Miles Davis.
the slap and pop style predominant in the R&B and Jazz community at the
time. He became the only electric bassist inducted into the Down Beat Jazz
Hall of Fame in 1988. An interesting documentary was produced by BBC in 4
1, 2, 3 & 4. For more on Jaco's meteoric career, visit his official website.