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An Interview with Ingrid Pastorius

by Marco Piretti, Joe Zawinul Unofficial Italian Fan Site

According to the announcement given in our News section, the Pastorius recently launched his official website. It is an important event for all of us, Jaco's lovers and supporters. You can visit this new site at the following addresses: or

In occasion of these good news, Ingrid Pastorius accepted to answer to some questions:

Mrs. Pastorius, can you tell us something about your first meeting with Jaco ?

I had just moved into my brother Paul's street in Fort Lauderdale, and since he was a local musician, drummer to be specific (Word of Mouth, Birthday Concert), he use to let me know of some of the good gigs around town. One day I heard Paul, and some other friends, and musicians talking about Jaco. There was this buzz going on around town... one could feel the energy......this excitement of anticipation, because whenever Jaco was home off the road, to the locals it meant that he would surely be sitting in on some gig somewhere, at some point, but never knowing when, or where.... So everyone was on some "high", the whole time hoping and wishing. Believe me when I say, you could FEEL the buzz.... Of course, when that moment came, we were all there, I shall never forget it.... It was at the Players Club; Jaco sat in with Alex Darqui (keyboard), and Rich Franks (drums). Rich, by the way, is the reason why Jaco even plays bass, because it was he who took over Jaco's job on the drums, while with the Las Olas Brass band, during the Teen Town days.

What was Jaco's attitude in his private life, at home and with the family ?

Jaco, first and foremost, was a man who adored his children, and always made them feel special. Believe it or not, he was someone who knew how to relax, and when he was on the road, couldn't wait to go home and mow the lawn. That might sound funny, but it is true, he loved the outdoors, so we did a lot of camping, hiking, going to the beach, and working in the yard. He did most of the maintenance on his home himself, whether it was electrical wiring, painting, or fixing. On Joni's tour Lyle Mays taught him to juggle.... It became one of his favorite pastimes; he made sure he had balls with him almost everywhere he went.

Jaco and Ingrid Pastorius with Robert Thomas Jr.

When Jaco was not on tour, at home, did he spend much time playing the instrument ?

I am not sure what would be considered playing the instrument much, but yes, he played it often. Sometimes he would go days without playing the bass, but then one day he would play it for several hours straight, rarely through an amp, but always as if he was giving the performance of his life.... The other days he mostly worked on his Prophet 5, or piano, composing or recording on his four track.

We know that Jaco loved Zawinul's music since the Cannonball Adderley period. Do you think that Jaco was influenced by Cannonball's music ?

I can not say for sure, of course, but I will say that he was influenced by anything he was attracted to, surely one can feel, and hear most of his influences, and the Cannonball groove, I think, was there....

Can you tell us something about the first encounter between Jaco and Joe Zawinul ?

I was not there when it happened, but what I heard was about Jaco's persistence to have Joe listen to the tape he had from his first recording session. Weather Report happened to be in town at that time, and Joe reluctantly agreed to meet with him. After listening, Joe asked him if he could play the electric, to which Jaco informed him that that is what he had been listening to. I guess this was the beginning of Weather Report: The Jaco Years.

What can you say about the relationships between Jaco and Zawinul ? Somebody said that Zawinul was like a father for him, and that the Jaco's departure from the Weather Report left him without this important point of reference. What is your opinion about this ?

I am not sure whom you mean was left without the important point of reference, but if you are talking about "Zawa-head" (Jaco's name for him), then I would say that might have been so. I know there was a deep respect, caring, and musical connection between the two of them. To me, after Jaco left, WR just wasn't the same anymore. Perhaps "the son" needed to go out and see the musical world through his own eyes, but I know Jaco always felt himself to be the "third member" of the band, and was looking forward to going "back home" some day. Just too bad it never happened. WR is still my most favorite jazz/fusion band, no one else has even come close, and so is it for my sons Julius and Felix, who listen almost every day to WR from that period.

And the relationships with the others band's members, e.g. Wayne Shorter ?

In Jaco's eyes (and ears) there was no other horn player who he respected more than Wayne. He and Wayne had a very comfortable relationship, and Jaco always felt close to him and his family.

In 1977, Jaco was already co-producer of the "Heavy Weather" album, that really changed the history of fusion music....

Glad you put it that way; it certainly felt as such for most people. Jaco was self-taught, not only on his instrument, or in composing, but also in the recording studio. This man knew how to take care of business, and did it well.

Can you give us some more information about the genesis of the Jaco's compositions in Heavy Weather, "Teen Town" and "Havona" ?

"Teen Town" was a reference to this club for teens in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where Jaco use to play at as a teenager. I think he had many fond memories from that period. "Havona" was named from Jaco's reading of the Urantia. In the book, Havona is a particular place. Both these compositions occurred before I met him.

Jaco Pastorius with "Las Olas Brass Band" at Teentown, 1967

And then the "Mr. Gone" period, we imagine that the stress was high, because of the high number of live concerts...

"Mr. Gone", not a favorite amongst some, but I think there is more to it then one can see. For me, personally, "Mr. Gone" is right up there with "Heavy Weather". In addition it has Punk Jazz and River People, can't get better than that, though maybe I am partial to this release because I was fortunate to join Jaco on this tour. I think it was then when they did something like 43 concerts in 45 days......

The 8:30 album was registered in January and February 1979. Can you tell us something more about this period, and about the idea to record a live album?

Yes, from what I remember, they all felt good about their performance on that tour, and live recordings were made. In addition they recorded the same set-list at a studio in Los Angeles, with approximately one hundred friends, and family members present. Guess some of us were lucky enough to have witnessed a private WR concert, awesome!

Have you some detail for us about the genesis of the "Three Views of A Secret" song ?

I must say that this tune is one of my favorites, well, the most favorite.... Jaco had just moved into my little apartment, and soon thereafter received the Prophet 5 he had ordered, replacing the bulky Oberheim. It was then that "Three Views" was born...Initially it bore my name, but I felt uncomfortable about the idea at the time. I do not regret making him change it, for I just simply love the name it is now. Actually, I think he said he stole that title from his friend and guitarist Charlie Brent......

What's your opinion about the interruption of the musical relationships between Zawinul and Jaco, and the departure of Jaco from the Weather Report ?

For me, personally, it was a sad occasion, for I think that they were in the middle of making some beautiful music...and, me being a listener, I felt there was a loss. I know that Jaco needed to take charge over his own direction, and "Word of Mouth" was something he really wanted to do. I remember how hopeful he was that Joe and Wayne, his mentors, would like what he had done with that release.

After the separation from WR, did the relationship with Zawinul continue?

I don't think they saw much of each other, but of course Jaco loved Joe, and Wayne, and who knows what would have been in store for them if things hadn't gone the way they did...

And then the Jaco's experience as band leader. In the "Word of Mouth" album, Jaco play a Beatles song, "Blackbird". Jaco liked the Beatles ?

Jaco, in my opinion, was a natural, and great band leader, who was able to draw the best out of all of the musicians. Yes, I believe Jaco listened to the Beatles, liked and respected them. He was really upset when John died.

In 1986 Jaco toured with Bireli Lagrene. Can you tell us something about the Jaco's relationships with this wonderful guitar player ?

I do not know much about the relationship itself, but I have no doubt Jaco loved Bireli, as a man, and as a player. I think Lagrene is one of the best, and I would love to have seen more collaborations. Bireli is a personal friend of the twins and I.

In the last years of his life, Jaco had a very difficult psychological period; in your opinion (we imagine that is very hard to give an answer to this question), what were the causes of this ?

There were many causes at hand, some are very difficult to understand, but I would say, the most important factor is that Jaco was a good man, in the complete sense of the word. He was kind, and loved people, all people... he "wore his heart on his sleeve", and as an artist of his caliber, he was often vulnerable to the music industry. I believe it ate him up, then spit him out.. he often felt hurt by it. Sadly he also had a disposition to a mental condition, bi-polar manic depression, which was triggered by stress, and self-medication through alcohol and drugs. Since the illness was not as familiar to the world as it is now, help came too late.

What are the things that you remember more gladly of Jaco ?

His naturalness about everything. He was so strongly connected to the heavens and the earth...and truly saw himself as a conduit between them both, while expressing their secrets through his music. As Joni once said, he is the face of the man on the moon.

We know that your son Felix played recently with the Robert Thomas band. We'll have a new Pastorius on the bass ! It is great !

Yes!!! Thank you. Actually, Bobby and Felix formed a band together.... be on the look out! :o)

Ingrid, Julius and Felix Pastorius

We are very grateful to Mrs. Pastorius for her attention and courtesy, and we think that these words will be very interesting for all our readers.
Jaco is one of the most important musicians of this century, and his real importance will be understood only in the future, we guess.
By our side, we'll continue to pay attention to his new website, and to his sons who seem to be great musicians, too !

So, we thank again Ingrid, and much much luck for your future projects !!!


Some interesting Links:

The Jaco Pastorius Family Official Website
Ingrid Pastorius interview on the Joni Mitchell's official website

The photos are courtesy of Ingrid Pastorius




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