Today’s Classic Bass Line is from the song “Havona” written by Jaco Pastorius and performed by Weather Report. Jaco was the pioneer of the fretless electric bass, and has influenced bassists of all genres. Jaco’s style may not be something you want to emulate, but his contributions to the bass guitar are immense.
While “Havona” presents more challenges than just another bass line, I have chosen it because of its importance in guiding our understanding of the different dimensions of the 4 string electric bass. Jaco is doing it all here – effortlessly playing a fast staccato 16th note groove, growling double stops, arpeggiated melodic material, lyrical and technical soloing – all in one tune.
I will write a Know Your Player on Jaco, but it will have to be a multi-part series. Like James Jamerson, Paul McCartney, and John Paul Jones, there is just too much information to write it into a single post. Look for it in the future.
Below is the original recording, followed by a great tutorial by Pablo Elorza. Although Pablo speaks in Spanish, the subtitles will help you navigate the concepts and techniques that he describes. Pay special attention to his explanation of how Jaco substituted major pentatonic scales over the chords in order to achieve different color tones and chord extensions. Check out Pablo’s YouTube page here, and his website here.
I look forward to revisiting this song in the future with an in-depth post on the improvisational and technical aspects of Jaco’s performance. Look for it in the Technique Category. Good luck! You’re gonna need it.
“Havona” Tutorial by Pablo Elorza