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The Bassist of Modern Music

Musicians and music buffs certainly remember Jaco Pastorius, the bassist who single-handedly changed the instrument forever. But if you haven’t heard of him, he warrants some time on Youtube. His 1976 solo performance of “A Portrait of Tracy” – available on the site – is patently a work of genius. With long fingers, he coaxes a slow, variegated, melodic riff from his bass. The sounds are otherworldly and stunning, like a transmission from an advanced alien civilization. At the time, they were unprecedented: the result of physical modifications to the instrument and his historic X-factor.

As a child, Pastorius went to Catholic school in Wilton Manors. At age 35, he died in Fort Lauderdale. Sunday marks the twentieth anniversary of his death, but his virtuosity lives and palpitates on – in the techniques of just about every modern bassist, and even in the basslines for commercials and news reports. To mark the date, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW Fifth Avenue) is holding an evening gala, “A Tribute to Jaco Pastorius.” His family and friends will be there, along with a roster of musicians and special guests. The Jaco Pastorius Big Band will play; plus, there’ll be home-video glimpses into his life and rare footage from concerts. (See full story in Music) Tickets start at $35. Call 954-462-0222, or visit
Sun., Dec. 2, 2007

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Penn Bullock

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