When I originally heard Jaco in a club in Fort Lauderdale, the two immediate impressions that I came away with were his unique use of harmonics and his incredible dexterity. As I got to know more of his amazing compositional and arranging skills, I decided to get him a record deal under my production agreement with Epic Records.
Jaco came to NY and lived with me while we recorded his project. I had a studio in my home so we could spend time, while organizing the album, recording bits of ideas that came to mind.
Much of what was recorded had either, already been written, or was created by Jaco during that time period. Donna Lee was one of Jaco's favorite showcase tunes. "Continuum", "Come On, Come Over," "Kuru/Speak Like A Child," "Opus Pocus," "(Used To Be A) Cha-Cha" and "Forgotten Love" were all carefully laid out by Jaco well in advance of their recording.
I did what most producers try to do and make sure that his artistry, and in Jaco's case, his diverse musical vocabulary, was well represented on this, his first disc.
I wanted to bring to light two of the aforementioned unique aspects of his playing. The harmonics and fluid dexterity. For the harmonics, I did exactly what I described several times. I didn't write a note. I merely asked him to play the same types of lines utilizing harmonics that he did in Florida where we first met. Without his knowledge, we recorded various lines and phrases. After editing the piece together with engineer Dave Palmer, I played it for Jaco. He hated the whole idea of it. After some convincing, he finally bought in to the concept and even overdubbed the highest note in the last chord.
(Portrait Of Tracy)
Whatever Tracy thought Jaco wrote for her prior to his first project, definitely wasn't this particular piece.
Okonkole Y Trompa, was a lengthy, mesmerizing, hypnotic jam between Jaco and Don Alias. I'm not sure if either of them remained aware that it was being recorded. It was a symphony created by the two of them... on the spot. After it was finished, I asked Jaco to write a melody to be played over the piece. We tried Ira Sullivan on Soprano and then Flugelhorn, and I think we even asked Wayne to play it. It never sounded right to me. I suggested Peter Gordon, a gifted French horn player that had played briefly with my band. He absolutely nailed it.
Lastly, I tried to get Jaco to write something to display his incredible technique. He put a jam together called... I think... "Fast." Herbie, Michael Walden & Jaco recorded the basic track. It never grew into anything musical enough to make the record.
I obviously didn't take writers credit (although many producers routinely do), nor do I want anyone to think I came up with one note. It's all Jaco.
When I first approached Jaco about producing his album I asked him what kind of music he liked and who his idols were?
He answered by saying that he liked all music: classical, jazz, R&B and music from the Caribbean... and that his idols were: Herbie, Chick, Sam & Dave... and some other names.
I made a decision, at that moment, that I would produce an album that represented as many aspects of his compositional and playing abilities as possible. Although that would not be a traditional approach, I thought that as long as the music came from one source, we would have continuity, a common thread, to hold the project together. Personally, I always loved albums that were completely unpredictable.
I called Sam and then Dave (they had not spoken or worked together in years), Herbie and even Chick, his wife Gayle Moran to be exact. The funny part in this story is that Chick called me right after he booked his flight and wanted to check on something... He wanted to make sure he was coming in to play on "a Bobby Colomby record."
I thanked him, but told him that I was producing a wonderful bass player that I heard in Florida and that I had no intention of playing on the record at all. He respectfully declined.
Many years later, someone told me that Jaco had said he wanted his friend Bob (the lyricist) to sing on "Come On, Come Over" and was upset about it. That was the first time I had heard that story. He didn't express those feelings to me at the time. We would have saved some money by going that route, but somehow, I don't think the results would have been as historic.
I believe the sequencing of an album is vital to its effectiveness. I'm focused on it from the nascent stages of a project until mastering.
One must decide the very essence of the journey the listener is about to take. Sometimes you actually save a stronger song until the 3/4 mark, with the intention of reinforcing an emotion you're trying to solidify.
The idea of "Come On, Come Over" jumping out after "Donna Lee" was absolutely intentional. Remember, more than 99% of the world hadn't heard of Jaco. I tried to make the listener jump out of his/her seat.
After hearing nothing but the bass, most listeners, especially back then, would have been wondering what on earth they were listening to. I thought that following “Donna Lee” with a "main stream" sounding song (with slightly more punch) would have shocked them into the realization that what was to come would be a special musical adventure.
For the complete experience, a record should have the same story arc as a good film. For the last song, as an example, you must decide what emotion you would like the listener to feel as they walk away from the album.
In retrospect, I now find myself with tears in my eyes when I hear the poignancy of “Forgotten Love.” Its complex innocence and feeling of loss is overwhelming. Jaco told me he wrote it on his children's toy piano.
Also, if you want my opinion as to the plausibility of Divine Intervention being a factor… my answer would be “ABSOLUTELY!!!!”
I thought the best way to introduce a new artist was face to face. Jaco had an unusual look, atypical of other artists at the time... and it would add to the mystic that I knew his bass playing would elicit.
I loved Avedon's portrait of Simon and Garfunkel on the "Bookends" album. The stark, black and white close up of their faces. I must stared at that photo for an hour.
I asked CBS Records staff photographer, Don Hunstein, if he could emulate that cover with Jaco. He said he could... and he did a great job.
Back in the good old days, you could actually see the artwork on LPs without using a microscope.
Long live Jaco.
Above statements originally posted at JacoPastorius.com
In the meantime, listen here to a recording of POT done prior to the actual studio recording Bobby Colomby is referring to in his above statement.
It is "less shaped" and recorded "straight to the board", but it is definitely POT as we know it recorded before going into the studio with Colomby.
B A C K
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