~by Dann Glenn
Happy Birthday, Jaco.
I thought it fitting to write this month's column in honor of Jaco Pastorius since his birthday falls on December 1st.
Like Mozart, Jaco never saw his 40th birthday. They both died far too young and in many ways parallel each others lives.
Wolfgang passed over 200 years ago and much of the facts about his life are hazy at
best. Jaco's life, however, is extremely well documented as we live in modern times.
Having said this I am amazed, frustrated, and saddened about how much misinformation is tossed around about Jaco on a daily basis.
This is common place in the story telling of legends. What's strange for me is that the
true and factual account of his life is far more interesting, incredible, and mesmerizing
than any of the false crap that is out there spinning around.
I feel strongly that musicians have a responsibility in educating themselves about
those that have given so much to the world of art and music.
Also the inspiration harvested from listening to and absorbing the music of people
such as Jaco is deeper and stronger if we have a much clearer picture of them as human beings.
Yes...human beings. After all that's what they are. It's unavoidable for movie stars
such as, say, James Dean not to be worshipped, commercially packaged, and kept forever young.
Dean's persona was the ultimate in terms of Hollywood cool. Jaco on the other hand
not only redefined our instrument, he left many brilliantly composed master pieces
behind for all to hear. For me...this is the ultimate in cool. Substance rather than style.
I'm sure that someday Hollywood will make a movie about his life. Let's hope and pray
that if this comes to pass it is done with taste and accuracy. Also let's hope whoever
portrays Jaco can actually play the bass well enough to pull off miming his playing.
One can only wonder what that will be like. Nothing like a little pressure.
I had the privilege and honor of knowing Mr. Pastorius. What a character he was.
He liked the fact that I hadn't learned his "greatest hits" verbatim. This was a prophetic
lesson that I have carried throughout my career to this very day.
Yes it's sad that this wonderful cat was afflicted with a horrible BI-polar disease.
It's even sadder that his flame was extinguished so violently.
For now let's try and muster a smile, a wink, and a silent prayer as we celebrate the
birthday of Jaco Pastorius...the world's greatest bass player.
Happy birthday, pal.