Todd Smallie (JJ Grey and Mofro; The Derek Trucks Band)
Todd Smallie credits his grandfather for introducing him to Pastorius. “I had been listening to him before I knew who he was.” According to Smallie, his grandfather purchased a Ford Crown Victoria that came with a compilation cassette tape, to demonstrate the quality of the stereo. The cassette included Weather Report’s “Birdland.” He says, “I remember hearing ‘Birdland,’ and it blew me away; the deep bass and the harmonics coming in. I was probably 10 years old, and in a weird, weird way, without even knowing who Jaco was at that point or even for the next couple of years, it was one of the songs that really inspired me to play bass.”
Smallie states that Pastorius had a profound impact on the way he approached bass. “I realized that it was the spirit of the music more than just the notes or the technical side of it. It was more than the sound of the instrument, especially when you finally saw a video of him play and you realized, ‘Holy cow this guy is completely pouring his heart and soul out into this. No wonder it is so bad ass.’ It was no holds barred. He played the piano line, the sax line, the bass line, the guitar lines, even doing the rhythmic stuff…conga-style slapping he would do on the bass—all of it really opened up my mind to the possibilities of the bass being more of a lead instrument than just laying down the bass line.”
Smallie says he was influenced by “Birdland” and “Teentown” early on. However, “‘A Remark You Made’ would definitely be one of my top three,” he says. “To this day, it is one of my favorite ballads of all time. That one definitely grabbed me. And I always loved ‘Port of Entry.’ … It reminds me of an Indian raga feel in the composition where it would start off real mellow, real slow, low dynamics and they would build and by the end of it. It was a real frenzy.