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Jaco Pastorius' bass guitar workshop in Martinique

December 1984

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Reno Steba's account of the experience

In late November 1984 Iíve received a brochure from a friend announcing that Jaco Pastorius will be teaching bass on the island of Martinique. To me great news, wow Iím going to meet Jaco! But at the same time disappointments because I had this tour to Venezuela for two weeks starting December 7th and the lessons at the clinic started on December 5th till 16th. Lucky enough they cancel the tour on December 3rd and gave me the opportunity to fly to Martinique on time for the clinics. After signing in as a student at Martinique Carrefour Mondial de la Guitare they informed me that Jaco would be a week late. For five days Iíve walk around and attended several workshops with Leo Brouwer classic guitarist and John Abercrombie as an observer. Then it was December 10th and Jaco first appearance to the students was about to happened. The classroom was full of bass players from around the Caribbean some from Europe and U.S.A. They where like over thirty student present that day. Then came Jaco into the classroom and for a minute everybody was shock because he walk in the classroom on bear foot. But after introducing himself to the students and started to play the bass and teaches us some shops it became magic and rest was history.

The next day he decides to test some student after lunch, and to my surprise I was one of them. After jamming with Michel Hatzigeorgiou he introduced me to Jaco and we jam a Bb blues. At first I was nervous and struggle a lot but as we keep on playing I started to get my confidence and enjoy my playing with Jaco. He later comments me on my approach on the bass and to take my time when Iím improvising, I quote; donít shoot all your marvels on your first shot. He also shows me how to play that singing vibrato on the string.

To me it was a great experience not only to take lesson from Jaco but also to know him as a person. After classes we meet at the hotel pool bar and we talked about music and also about Aruba because his wife Ingrid was raised there. The fourth day of the workshop with only a few students present Jaco taught us America the Beautiful and selected some student to play with him on his concert the next day. He selected Michel Hatzigeorgiou to play Donna Lee and myself to play "Continuum".

In the afternoon, on Friday 14 December we did sound check at the theatre and had great fun with Jaco. He really was a great person and short period friend, beside his BD. Four students showed up for the sound check that day, Michel Hatzigeorgiou, Alan Brennan, Angel Vicens and I. Jaco asked us to join him to perform "America the Beautiful" at the end of the show. At the concert that night he played like the Jaco I always knew.

He played great solos, chords, harmonics, melodies and funky patterns where the main course of the evening. Along with Rashied Ali on drums they played the concert without any other instrumentalist. Then after the tenth song of that evening it was time for Michel and me to perform. We both were nervous but I guess thatís normal if you had to play with Jaco. At first Michel got to play Donna Lee then I followed with Continuum. At the end of the concert we all joined the stage and played with five basses America the Beautiful. As encore we jam with four students and Jaco on drums.

After the concert Jaco wanted to celebrate our last reunion and so they took us to a music bar in town. It was funny when we all walk into the club while the band was playing and Jaco walked ride away to the stage. As he walked to stage the bass player in the band couldnít believe his eyes. Jaco took the bass from his neck and pickup the tune from there like nothing happened. After playing a couple of tunes with the band he took over in the break sad down at the piano and played a couple of tunes from his album Word of Mouth.

Later when he join us again on the table he ask me if I wanted to go to Europe to play some gigs, He and Michel where going over there, if I wanted to come along. But this was at the time inconvenience for me because of other obligation I had to complete. After a while we sad goodbye to each other and the next time I heard about Jaco was when he died, three years later.





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