Jaco Pastorious


Photo credit: “The Basslink” via FaceBook

Hello again world of WordPress, I’m taking the time to write a fan admiration piece for the late, great Jaco Pastorious. While I’m primarily a rock bassist influenced by players like Steve Harris and Cliff Burton, I have nothing but respect for the players who pioneered the bass guitar into it’s own solo instrument. This is what Jaco Pastorious did with bass in the early 1970s, not just by being an amazing player who helped re-define and revive Jazz, but did so on his own terms (including his own unique sound in that he made the fretless bass guitar popular).

What does “fretless” mean? It means that the bass guitar has no metal lines to keep the bass strings intonated and that the fingerboard is just bare wood. Fretless creates a “smoother” sound than fretted instruments. See below:

What amazes me about some prodigious musicians like Jaco is how they they never let their fame go to their head.

In this video Jaco stresses that there aren’t any shortcut to greatness in musicianship, Jaco himself spent many long hours to learn how to read music (starting at 4 minutes and 40 seconds in the video). Jaco also learned intonation for the notes on the fretless using a fretted bass (8 minute mark and onwards)  His response to being told how successful he was in this video was a sentiment that all musicians feel; “Hey, just get me a gig, man!”

Jaco struggled with manic depression and bi-polar most of his life, and was killed by a club bouncer in 1987. He left behind a wonderful legacy with his music, and I hope more people who chime in elitist comments like “Jaco never needed to slap or use a five string bass” will realize Jaco was just a normal guy who eloquently played what he wanted too. Other musicians shouldn’t be criticized for their preferences on technique or style, but instead on how much they dedicate themselves to excelling with that style or technique (withholding conversations about auto-tune).

While Jaco never directly influenced my playing styles (I’m a heavy metal bassist), his words about hard work ring true to me in how I should apply myself musically from now on. I had a hard time being a music major in college in that I couldn’t read music on a professional level, but if I had known that even the greats of bass got stuck on reading, and busted their asses off; it probably would have helped me get over my mental blocks with sheet music.

I hope this blog has spread some awareness into the mind of bass players for all of you non-bassists out there in the world. They say bass is often felt and not heard, and I find this to be true until people are made more aware of bass through being told what to look for.

RIP Jaco Pastorious, I’m sure you’re jamming somewhere in heaven with the other greats of jazz.


RIP Jack “The Cool Cat” Card (January 1992- June 2010)


Warning: very schmaltzy. Today marks the three year anniversary of my childhood companion Jack passing away. Below, I posted an edited version of an old Facebook note I wrote back right after he died in 2010.  

Also, here are a few songs that remind of him that help make the note more sentimental. 🙂 

Jack first came to my family in the summer of nineteen hundred and ninety four. I was four years old at the time. He belonged to another family for a year, but they moved away without Jack (heh, their loss). The only collar that he had was a purple one with bells on it with no name tag. So we don’t know his original name, though that remains irrelevant because Jack suits him the best. It was my sister and her friend that named him Jack. I gave him the middle name Jason, I liked this kid in the neighborhood named Jason, but in retrospect he wasn’t that great. Jack was a billion times better. lol

[Jack] was a one of kind of cat, for instance his stripe patterns were unique for a male because normally cats with his stripe pattern are female brown tabbies. Jack is still the most beautiful brown tabby I’ve ever seen. I know everyone thinks that their first pet was the best in the world to them, but Jack is the King of All Cats in my eyes. The reason is not just because I was raised with him, but also because he was the most affectionate cat on the planet towards humans. If you had the capability to feed him, then he loved you automatically.

When he saw you he purred and his entire head moved from the purring, he had this habit of titling his head forward slightly. He also smiled at every human he knew, meaning he trusted you. Jack always licked people showing that he considered people a worthy part of the pack and to be respectful, it was his way of grooming people. Lol Though Jack was affectionate towards humans, he was also very vicious towards other animals. My neighbors considered him a “bully”. But what can one expect from a cat? They are very territorial creatures.

Jack was the alpha cat of my house and my entire neighborhood. No creature, cat nor dog would mess with him. The only creatures that messed with him unscathed were magpies, and that’s because they flew too high for Jack to catch them. (Though I never saw them in my neighborhood after 2001.)  In 2002,Jack was standing on one side of a road, and a neighbor’s cat was standing on the opposite side. Jack put one paw forward casually and the other cat went running to the hills. In his youth he was an extremely good hunter. My dad remembered a time when Jack climbed up a tree halfway, hit a squirrel with his paw, and the squirrel fell to the ground and broke its neck. He also caught quite a few birds and gave them to us as “gifts” around supper time. When he got on to his older age he was a master at slaying chipmunks, mice, and baby possums. Jack was also fearless. So much so that he would always get in front of cars that I was in. I thought it was from stupidity, but now I like think it’s that he didn’t want me to leave him. Jack loved eating, and he loved people.

Thankfully, he also loved eating people. <Just kidding.

He died of failing kidneys. Instead of facing 2-4 years of torment he decided it would be easier to fall asleep behind the tire of a car in my neighborhood. Jack loved my family; he picked us out of all the people that fed him after his old family left him when he was a stray. And he chose to save us the torment of having to put him asleep by choosing the fate he wished for (cats are fascinating creatures to say the least).

In death Jack was smiling and bared a very peaceful expression when we laid him to rest in the backyard. We placed brick and a giant rock as a grave stone to make sure no coyotes would disturb his resting place. I like to think that Jack was a super strong genius that loved all humans that could feed him, and he brought my family extreme amounts of joy. Personally, Jack taught me to love unconditionally, and for that, I am forever grateful. 

I wuv you forever more, fattest kitty. 
R.I.P. Jack Jason Card

Jack sleeping on an English book I never really liked. Cats always know 🙂
My pros was very different back then since I had a leaning towards passive voice and didn’t care for common grammar themes (it looked worse before I edited it, lol). But, the message that I loved Jack definitely still shows there in the eulogy I wrote him and that’s what matters most. After three years I think I’m finally ready to let go of the past and let Jack enjoy the big scratching post in the sky, where the Chicken Salmon are abundant and there is always a comfy spot to sleep. =D  
Lastly, I find it to be a good omen that from what was once dead soil there are flowers now growing from his grave.