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A Tribute To Jaco Pastorius
by Graham Allen


The Americans have been privy to a number of tribute evenings to the late great self proclaimed  “Greatest Bass Player in the World,” however Europe has been distinctly lacking despite a huge following and tours from Jaco with Weather Report and as a solo artist.   

The tribute was the idea of Modeste a bass player himself, based in Holland and was initially scheduled to take place to celebrate Jaco’s 50th birthday on 1st December 2001, however time and money ran out. So when  Modeste put together this ambitious project over 1000 enthusiasts filled the cosy Melkweg theatre in Amsterdam on a spring Sunday evening. It was a tribute to his ambition and tenacity that the place was heaving in anticipation of a true bass bonanza. 

Billed as a tribute evening, expectation was running high with Victor Bailey making the trip from the US and most tantalising, Jaco’s twin teenage sons Felix (bass) and Julius (drums), already immortalised by Jacophiles in the naming of his Double live Japan concert recording “Twins.” 

People watched in awe of the twins at the sound check running through Barbary Coast – one of Jaco’s early contributions to Zawinul's flag ship fusion band, Weather Report. The track captured all the magic of Jaco  - muted funk, all swagger and attitude. 

The evening kicked off with footage of Jaco on a big screen, showing him in Weather Report and solo settings, virtuosity itself but always underpinned by a metronomic time and a sense of melody and harmony not matched by many subsequent bass virtuosi.

Pat Metheny had described his solo debut as a 26 year old as the most audacious jazz debut album of the last 25 years.

The live tributes were many and varied  - the New Cool Collective Big Band providing a funk backdrop, horns punctuating, treating us to latin, jazz and swing. They played as a unit but the bass chair was rotating with Victor Bailey, Felix Pastorius and Michel Hatzigeorgiou taking the hot seat for renditions of Jaco compositions. 

Prior to the most ambitious 50 bass player tribute to Jaco’s “Portrait of Tracy,” the harmonics showpiece dramatically reproduced by the players on stage and in the balcony, Ingrid Pastorius, Jaco’s second wife (and mother of the twins) had been relayed direct from the US by telephone link. She sounded almost overwhelmed with emotion, the audience falling silent to hear her words of gratitude that his spirit lived on through his music. 

Michel Hatzigeorgiou had toured with Jaco in the mid eighties and played a blistering bass & drum workout, slotting in a stunning version of Donna Lee, Jaco’s jaw dropping opening to his solo debut album. Jaco’s uncanny use of Harmonics was replicated on Okonkole Y Trompa to great effect. Interspersed between set changes Marc Kregting read lines of poetry inspired by Jaco from his book Hakkel je, hakkel je.   

Perhaps the highlight was the late night appearance of the twins. They covered Come on Come Over and Felix stunned the assembly with his musicality, muscular slapping (something Jaco shunned) and fleet dexterity. Julius likewise provided a syncopated backbeat, the twins clearly feeding off each other and their father’s spirit. They left the stage to a rapturous applause returning for an encore and to draw a winner for a Jaco replica Fender Bass. 

Overall the evening was a huge success and it was only at 2.30 in the morning that the place was cleared, people reluctant to leave a venue that had hosted over 4 hours of Jaco inspired music, talk and poetry. For many the footage of Jaco on the big screen would have been enough, a unifying force which had won so many admirers after his trailblazing entry into the world of Jazz or as he saw his music “Punk Jazz.” 

Jazz, Fusion, Jazz Rock or indeed Punk Jazz the man and his music lives on. 

Running Order. 

Animated Film  - Used to be a… by Marc Kregting and Femke Hoyng.

New Cool Collective bigband playing their own and Jaco’s music.

Barbary Coast with Felix Pastorius on bass

Three Views of a Secret with Michel Hatzigeorgiou

Liberty City with Victor Bailey

Footage of Word of Mouth tour in Japan , Jaco and Toots Thielmans

Poet Marc Kregting

Mark Haanstra trio with Gustavo Gimeno and Lorenzo Ferrandez on percussion playing a piece by Rafael Reina

Portrait of Tracy by 50 bass players

Footage of Weather Report from 1976

Marc Kregting reading from his book

Michel Hatzigeorgiou duet with drummer Stéphane Galland

Michel with his band; Eric Legnini on keys and Jeroen van Herzeele on sax.

Isabel Loute vocals and Michels band.

Julius and Felix on drums and bass

Solo Victor Bailey.


Endings and Thank Yous.


Graham Allen is based in London and has been a Jaco fan since hearing Birdland on Heavy Weather by Weather Report.
Hobbies include playing bass and drums. He has contributed to websites on Jaco and Emerson Lake and Palmer.
He works full time and is currently studying to teach and lecture in Psychology and counselling.





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