As discussed in Chapter 8, Jaco Pastorius (1951–1987) is a pivotal figure in jazz bass. Virtually every music student who plays electric bass tries to copy Jaco's style at some point. Unfortunately, the great Jaco Pastorius led a very troubled life, and due to a combination of mental illness and substance abuse he died at the young age of thirty-five.
The last etude found in this chapter was written in homage to the master bassist. Without a doubt, it is the hardest etude in this chapter and one of the most advanced pieces found in this book. Because of this, it is highly recommended that you learn this piece in sections or phrases, and be sure to listen to the CD to hear how it should sound.
There are a number of technical challenges in “Jaco Lives.” First, the piece is played with a rubato feel in the beginning.
Harmonically, this etude uses one-five-nine and one-five-ten arpeggios. This means that you will play root-fifth-ninth intervals and root-fifth-tenth intervals. For example, a root-fifth-ninth arpeggio starts the whole piece off in measure one. You will also see the use of harmonics. If you are new to harmonics, go back to Chapter 8 and learn this technique before trying to play Figure 13-5. To reproduce Jaco's signature style, you must use harmonics since they are integral to his sound. Bear in mind that interspersing harmonics with regular pitches is a special challenge. In fact, this requires a lot of patience, practice, and perseverance. (At first, some of your harmonics might not ring out as beautifully as you want them to.) However, developing the ability to use pitch contrast — highs and lows — on the bass will allow you many more options as a soloist no matter what style of music you play.
Other devices in “Jaco Lives” include bebop lines and funk clichés. For example, beat four of measure nine uses a melodic twist with a flat nine. This kind of turn is common in bop. On measure eight, you'll also see descending pentatonic patterns. Jaco loved using pentatonics since they create a truly funky sound. Rhythmically, you will see sixteenth notes and sixteenth rests used on a single pedal (E) on measures twelve through fifteen. This passage emulates Jaco's fondness for syncopation and funk! The sixteenth-note triplets used on the penultimate bar are also a Jaco trademark. For example, listen to Jaco's performance on the closing bars of Joni Mitchell's “Dry Cleaner from Des Moines” off of her 1979 release
Figure 13-5. “Jaco Lives”
tells you to play the notes one octave