Jaco 01Go! Go! Hike the ball – now!

Jaco’s bare feet were bleeding and the ring finger on his left hand had been jammed and was swollen to the size of a Ball Park Frank. We were playing flag football at Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Jaco had a gig with Ira Sullivan in just a few hours, but for now it was all about football.

Jaco played at sports the same way he played bass. All out, complete focus, no drugs, no crazy. This was 1973 and Jaco was the worlds greatest electric bass player but no one outside of south Florida knew it yet.

I had met Jaco through local friends and fellow University of Miami students like John Paulus, Stan Samole, and Pat Metheny. We were all playing, searching our way into music. Pat and Jaco stood apart. Their level of understanding and control of their instruments was stunning, even at that time.

“James Brown Soul Classics volume 2 – the gold cover – get that record and play along with it every day – all day!”

The most dedicated musician I have ever met, Jaco lived and breathed it. He was the perfect example of “ten thousand times equals mastery”. He studied and listened to the right things. When he found out that I had a sizeable collection of Stravinsky recordings we would listen and try to play along. He dug The Beatles and Bach, Coltrane, Miles, everything.

I played two gigs with Jaco and many times at home. Both gigs were at Bachelors III in Fort Lauderdale, Fl. One was with Nancy Wilson, the other with Bobby Vinton. I was subbing for guitar giant Joe Diorio, who I had met at the University of Miami where he was doing some teaching. These gigs were shows, with a big band, tuxedos, and detailed charts. Jaco was amazing – singing horn parts at rehearsal, coaching players with quick comments and a sly grin – “like Chuck Berry!” he’d yell (Jaco wasn’t the bandleader but he was the most musical and enthusiastic guy on the bandstand).

I remember heading back to the band break room, walking behind Jaco. As we passed a grand piano that was tipped up on its side for storage, Jaco couldn’t resist. “Listen to this chord I found today!” he said as he leaned over and pounded out a ten fingered creation. The strings of the piano rang and clanged with out of control overtones and with our laughter. Jaco.

Jaco’s Modern Electric Bass video – a master shares: