One of my Christmas presents was a copy of the Anniversary Edition of Jaco by Bill Milkowski. This revised and expanded biography of the great but troubled electric bass guitarist Jaco Pastorius is well worth reading, even if you have read the previously published version of this book. Pastorius was, of course, far more than just a great bass player. He possessed a formidable musical mind which produced many superb compositions and arrangements, as well as inventing an entire new vocabulary for his chosen instrument which irrevocably changed the way the electric bass is played.
I don't intend to repeat the Pastorius story here - if you want to know more about his life then read the book - but I did find myself having a bit of a 'Jacofest' on the CD player and thinking about some of the bassists that rushed through the door that he opened. My late friend John McCartney was one of them and I will be writing about him in the near future, but for the moment I have an abiding memory of the expressions of astonishment, disbelief and then delight that chased across his face when we saw Jaco perform with Weather Report at Hammersmith Odeon (as it was then) in 1980. Incidentally, I rate this gig as probably the best I have ever attended, and I've attended quite a few. I've not been able to locate any clips of that concert (although I've discovered that a bootleg recording of it does exist) but here is a Clip from German TV c. 1978 which does give flavour of the band in full flight.
And here is Jaco's Word of Mouth Big Band live in Japan in 1982, playing the Pastorius composition 'Three Views of a Secret'. This features the great Toots Theilmans on harmonica.
Here is another of my favourite bass players of all time - Nico Assumpção. The Brazilian 6 string bass maestro is seen here in Salvador in 1992, playing with Larry Coryell and an all star line up. Alas, Nico died of throat cancer in 2001.
Ney Conceição is another great Brazilian 6 string electric bass player. Here he is with João Bosco's band performing a Bosco composition - Incompatibilidade de Gênios.
Ney, fellow Bosco band members, guitarist Nelson Faria and drummer Kiko Freitas also perform as Nosso Trio. Here they are playing the classic Roberto Menescal composition 'O Barquinho' (My Little Boat).
Anthony Jackson is credited with inventing the 6 string bass and he's another of my favourites Here he is playing with Michel Camilo: piano and Horacio Hernandez: drums.I'm afraid I can't 'name that tune', but I'd be grateful if anybody else can...
Finally, here's a clip of Abraham Laboriel with Lee Ritenour in Japan. I don't know when this was recorded, what the tune was or who the other musicians are (although I'd guess at Patrice Rushen on keyboards) but it's a fun solo and incredibly 'high energy' Given that he's been cutting these capers for many years (I saw him play in London in about 1980 and he was leaping about a bit then) you'd think he'd be a bit slimmer!
These are by no means the only great electric bass players around: they just happen to be some of my favourites - and if regular readers of this blog are surprised by the absence of Richard Bona from this posting, it's only because I've covered him exhaustively elsewhere ( a quick search within the blog will reveal at least three mentions (including a concert review) and a number of clips). In the meantime I hope you enjoy this selection.