10 Things That All Bass Players Should Know About Jaco

1)  Jaco was hired by Joe Zawinul of Weather Report to play bass on the award winning jazz record Heavy Weather as a session bassist.  Jaco ended up contributing as a composer with two of the most iconic tunes in jazz fusion history- Teen Town and Havona.

2)  Jaco’s musical personality connected in such a deep way with Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter that he ended up getting credited as co-producer for Heavy Weather and Mr. Gone.

3)  Jaco was playing the fretless bass six and a half years before he joined Weather Report.  Imagine what that was like considering that when Jaco hit the international jazz scene he changed history forever for the electric bass guitar.

4)  Jaco’s musical influences weren’t bass players- as he put it, “I just listen to music.” Succinctly put, music (melody, rhythm, harmony, counterpoint & form) was at the forefront of Jaco’s musical development.

5)  Most of Jaco’s early musical influences came from listening to television theme tunes were he learned from great TV and film composers like Henry Mancini, Earle Hagan and Allyn Ferguson.

6)  Jaco’s musical influences aside from TV and film music were Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, James Brown, The Beatles, Miles Davis and Stravinsky chronologically in that order.

7)  Jaco’s two main personal triumphs in his life ( ‘brags’ as he put it) were that he hadn’t been out of work a day in his life as a musician since he was 15 and that he taught himself everything in regard to his musical skills, both instrumental and compositionally.  Although he never took a music lesson in his life, he was always hanging out with the best musicians who steered him in the right direction.  That is quite an accomplishment considering that he taught music at three different music colleges in America.

8)  A very important aspect of Jaco’s musical evolution was that he started to compose music from the age of 15.  By the time he was 25 years old, he had developed the skills to compose for a full orchestra.

9)  Jaco was known as one of the best music readers in the world on the bass guitar- both in bass and treble clef.  Jaco sight read Birdland from the Heavy Weather sessions in treble clef in one take!

10)  Jaco was also an amazing drummer.  When a jazz journalist asked world renown drummer Steve Gadd who his favourite drummer was, Gadd quickly said that Jaco was at the top of his list!

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2 Responses to 10 Things That All Bass Players Should Know About Jaco

  1. I’ve never heard this statement before: “9) Jaco was known as one of the best music readers in the world on the bass guitar- both in bass and treble clef. Jaco sight read Birdland from the Heavy Weather sessions in treble clef in one take!” Can you please, Joe, quote your sources?

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