HG Thor Epoxy Fretless: Jaco Stories!
Friends of the Lab share their memories of Jaco encounters. Please send me yours if you have one! HG THOR
"In 1980 I bumped into Jaco a dozen or so times at studios and venues when I lived in Redondo
Beach. At a NAMM show he invited
me to spend the day with him and his wife Ingrid. He was very intense, yet totally effusive
and generous as I quizzed him (he told me about Petits... showed me how he played stuff that
I had worked out differently etc.). I played his bass (the doom one). The neck was loose
and wobbly at the heel. One interesting
thing I noticed about him was that he always walked very, very fast and held his bass in a
stock Fender case at his side as though it didn't have a handle."
Skinny Bishop, AZ
"I was playing a club, The Flying Machine, in Ft. Lauderdale back in
spring 1971. As my band was finishing our sound check a guy came up to
me (didn't introduce himself) to look at my factory-made '70 Fender
Precision fretless which I had just recently purchased. He told me he
had a fretless bass but had pulled the frets. Then my band left the
club and I didn't hear the opening band do their sound check. Coming
back a little early before our set, I met some people in the parking
lot who were coming to see the opening act, a pickup (trio) band of
local musicians. Going into the club, I went backstage and watched the
opening band from behind. Now, I realize the bass player was surely
Jaco although I didn't even know his name at the time. He even picked
up our sax and played a solo!"
Gale Barchus, Kita-ku, Kyoto, Japan
"I met Jaco in March 1975 through his first wife Tracy. Tracy was a
waitress at a well known Fla. club at the time. I was in Fla. on spring break
with some friends. I struck up a conversation with Tracy, and at some point
said I just started to play bass. She said: "Come back tonight and
meet my husband who is the best bassist in Florida."
So, later that night, I go back to the club. The band was on break when I walked in. Tracy comes by, sees me, and walks me backstage to me her husband. She says: "Jaco, this is Tom. He just started playing bass." I had never heard of Jaco before. We talked briefly: "...where you from, who you listen to, what type of bass you got?" Jaco, goes out to play his next set. !!!!!!!BOOM!!!!!!! To see Jaco live, for the first time? Its hard to explain. It was the same as seeing Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Led Zepplin, James Jamerson, Miles Davis... Just, One of a kind. The skill, tone, voice on his instrument. You knew you were seeing something new. After the set I simply say to him: "You are the best bassist I've ever seen." (A big smile from Jaco, and "thanks."}
Forward to Fall 1975, Boston (where I'm from). Pat Methany Trio is playing (Paul's Mall). I'm with my older brother who is a guitar player. I look at the bar and say to my brother: "That's the crazy bass player I met in Fla." We walk over to bar. Jaco sees me. Before I say a word, he says: "I remember you, Tom. Are you still playing bass?" (for real)
I saw Jaco a few more times "live" after that. (Weather Report, Word Of Mouth Band, Joni.) We never spoke again."
Tom Howland , Edgartown MA.
"In 1982, I had the great pleasure to meet
Jaco Pastorius and his Word Of Mouth
band members at a practise space in Manhattan.
I was there recording with The Cerbonauts for about an
hour when songwriter and lead vocalist Todd Bludeau mentioned he saw Jaco out in the hall.
A bit nervous I slipped out there for a
peek. There I saw the seated and sunlit orange haired head of Jaco himself (strange that the only
sunbeam from the single-windowed and dusty wooden stairwell fell on him) with his mates standing around him. I approached
him and said: "Hi. You're Jaco right?" (duh...) He says: "Yah man" with an big
smile that beamed as bright as the light he was bathed
in, and he introduced me to his band members. He said they were bone-ing
up for the Blue Note gig that night. I nodded in approval while searching
my brain for something to say. Then he said in a very earnest and interested way, his
eyes fully alert: "So what do you play?" I humbly replied that I play guitar, with a bit of an "its
nothing" inflection. Quickly changing the subject, I told him that I "really dug" his
work with Weather Report and Joni etc. He simply smiled and nodded. There was one
of those short awkward moments of silence when you are standing face to face with
a legend where seconds are hours, my brain still refusing to come up with
something intellegent, so I took that opportunity to say "Great meeting you" to which he responded
quite careingly "Yah, you too man". I split in a gesture of giving the guy
some space. (You may be wondering why I hadn't discussed epoxy fretless tech, but
this occured at a time when I had made only one experimental epoxy converted bass, and hadn't
yet considered lutherie as a business let alone assume I could offer Jaco any
quality service he already had access to.) That recording of ours turned out fairly
well inspired, and when we were done he and his band were gone. I consider
myself fortunate to have had this honest and pleasant encounter, especially in the light
of some of the stories that have painted him a negative light. I know
in my heart I met the true Jaco who was kind, spirited and gracious.
His body of work is a testament to his genius and hard work, and I am honored
to offer this service which helps keep alive his unique and groundbreaking
methodology on the bass. Enjoy!"
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