Jaco Pastorius Bass Video

In 1985, DCI released Jaco Pastorius’ 50-minute instructional video, Modern Electric Bass, and it is a gem. Session bassist Jerry Jemmott (George Benson, Aretha Franklin, King Curtis) interviews, converses with, and performs with Pastorius during the instruction. John Scofield and Kenny Dennard joinPastorius on a few loose jams that close the video: “The Chicken,” “Fannie Mae,” and a piece that, in part, resembles “Leap Frog.” Dennard and Pastorius team up for “If I Only Had a Brain”/”Amerika,” andPastorius goes solo with “Portrait of Tracy,” “Continuum,” and, on keys, “Liberty City.” In teaching mode, Pastorius stresses the importance of learning the scales, learning the melody, reading music, finger spacing, intonation, endurance, harmonics, arpeggios (“the greatest”), and rhythm (“It’s the whole deal”). He also discusses the fretless bass, the fingerboard, double stops, picking technique, and choice of notes. Intermittently, Pastorius interrupts the teaching with interesting, humorous stories and personal anecdotes, explaining how he once broke his wrist, how his upright bass “blew up,” and reminding his students/viewers that he is “formally self-taught.” As of 1999, the video was still in print and usually runs around $60.

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