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Jaco Pastorius: 25 Years Ago Today…

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Jaco Pastorius: 25 Years Ago Today…

“In Wilton Manor, Fla., a tiny town near Fort Lauderdale, detectives describe the death of the former bass player for the jazz group Weather Report as a homicide,” read a local newspaper, reporting on the previous day’s murder of legendary bassist Jaco Pastorius on September 21, 1987.

Today quietly marks the 25th anniversary of that sad event, and is in marked contrast to the well-promoted celebration of Jaco’s life just five years ago on the occasion of the 20th anniversary. That tribute came about thanks to the tireless work of Jaco’s old friend Bob Bobbing, who organized a memorial concert in Florida with help from Peter Graves. It featured a spectacular performance by the Jaco Pastorius Big Band with many special guests, including Randy Brecker, Bob Mintzer, Gerald Veasley, Jimmy Haslip, Ira Sullivan, Alex Darqui and Jaco’s former Weather Report bandmates Peter Erskine and Bobby Thomas Jr. All four of the Pastorius kin were on hand as well, with Mary performing a beautiful duet on stage with bassist Tony Franklin. It was a wonderful night thanks mostly to the valiant effort by Bobbing, who also revealed an extended clip of his Jaco documentary-in-the-works on a giant screen above the stage as the concert began.

So here we are five years later, and things are noticeably more subdued on the Jaco front. His official website lays dormant as its former webmaster Corey Brown has since moved on and started his own bass site. The once-popular forum community on jacopastorius.com has been shut down for years. Bobbing has kept a low profile since releasing and promoting his intriguing collection of rare Pastorius recordings titled Portrait Of Jaco: The Early Years. Jaco’s second wife Ingrid, who ran her own much-visited tribute website to her late husband, passed away suddenly last November. The feuding that was at one time rampant among various Pastorius factions has been exposed for its triviality in the face of life’s quickly passing years. And as those years do indeed pass, the memory of Jaco fades ever more slightly. Curiously, new debates questioning Jaco’s greatness or validity seem to arise with regularity among a newer generation of bassists.

For those of us who were there when Jaco came on the scene, there was–and is–no debate. We witnessed his giant effect on our little bass world first hand; we knew there was electric bass before and electric bass after, and the two eras were not the same because of him. It was more than just his astounding technique that captured our collective imagination, and perhaps that is the point that may be lost on some younger players today. Jaco was larger than life; he brought an attitude and swagger to playing the bass that we had not seen before. He was absolutely audacious. It was that aspect of his personality that probably fueled so many of his groundbreaking ideas about how to approach his instrument, and in turn, his musical swagger became our musical swagger and we suddenly played our basses in new ways. I consider myself fortunate that I was able to see Jaco play quite a few times, and had the opportunity to meet him as well.

Last fall I had begun writing an article for this magazine, to be published on December 1st, commemorating Jaco’s legacy on what would have been his 60th birthday. I received much help from Peter Erskine, who contributed to the piece, and I had a few discussions and “mini-interview” with Ingrid Pastorius as well. She was quite busy at the time, partly due to her own annual honoring of Jaco on his birthday. She sent this message to me in late November:

“Hello Rick, my apologies. I have been so swamped, between teaching mornings and nights, personal going-ons, my sons being in town, haven’t seen Felix since last year. He’s on tour with Jeff Coffin, first time in Florida, as well as organizing two, perhaps three events for Jaco’s 60th, it’s been quite a marathon…. just to let you know, there will be a Jaco Celebration at the Zinc in NY on November 30th, and another one down here in Florida on December 4. Can’t wait, there is a B3 on stage! The third one is still formulating, I am trying to organize a jam for budding musicians, several schools are participating, I am psyched about this!” After briefly discussing a cover photo she was trying to help me with for Bass Musician, she wrote, “Thanks again for anything and everything you have done and are doing on behalf of Jaco’s legacy, looking forward to the issue. All the best, Ingrid.”

Ingrid never got to see any of those events she was planning; she died on November 29th of a heart attack. That e-mail was my final communication with her. It was sudden, shocking, out of the blue. And so perhaps it is appropriate, on this day that we remember Jaco, to share a few of Ingrid Pastorius’ final thoughts of her husband. Here is a brief excerpt of an interview I had done with her several weeks earlier:

What are some of the memories you have of watching Jaco play with Joni Mitchell?

Joni looked to Jaco for guidance and support. The way he responded is evident by how magical their sounds seem to stroke each other. It always felt like a dance to me, watching and listening to them play.

Though he’s known to be a jokester, when in the studio recording, an artist couldn’t be more on top of the situation and his game than Jaco. I remember Jaco being in charge of the editing/splicing during Weather Report’s mastering, he was impeccable.

There was that time when working on “Dry Cleaner” for Joni, in the middle of the session, Jaco suggested to add some horn parts. So that night at the Sunset Marquis, in natural wisdom mode, he stayed up until 5 AM writing out the parts in order to bring them in that day.

Joni was always gracious and generous to Jaco, as well did Jaco deeply respect Joni, there definitely was a love. It was the Shadows and Light tour that facilitated him to buy our home. Forever grateful.

Did he ever discuss her music with you, and did you ever hear him work on her music at home?

No, Jaco didn’t discuss the music. I don’t remember him working on Joni’s music at home, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t. If there is anyone able to do one-takers during recording sessions, and improvise, it’s Jaco. At home he mostly worked on his compositions, recorded himself, and practiced….aside from spending time with his children, juggling, beach, yard-work, cooking, playing baseball and basketball…to name a few.

In your opinion, if he had remained physically and mentally healthy and were still alive, what do you suppose life would be like for Jaco at 60 years old?

Jaco had several aspirations he still wanted to fulfill, aside from being a great Dad. He spoke of composing soundtracks for film, learning to play the oboe– as a matter of fact, perhaps all woodwinds. He was also keen on nature, recorded aspects of it. Who knows what would have emerged from that.

Jaco at 60, what a loaded thought….one thing is clear: life would be different, not only for his family and friends, but also for most musicians, bassists in particular. What and how would they be playing now?

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STYX Announces Terry Gowan As New Bass Player

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STYX Announces Terry Gowan As New Bass Player

Band photo 2024 courtesy of ABC Public Relations. Photographer, Jason Powell. Left to right:  Todd Sucherman, Lawrence Gowan, Chuck Panozzo, James “JY” Young, Tommy Shaw, Terry Gowan, Will Evankovich

STYX Announces Terry Gowan As New Bass Player…

Terry Gowan declares, “It is within an honor and somewhere beyond a dream come true to be joining JY, Tommy, Chuck, Will, and my brother Lawrence – and to be reacquainted with decade long Gowan bandmate Todd — in taking on the mantle as the new bassist of the legendary STYX. Here’s to many years ahead on the Styx adventure!”

“I’m very pleased and proud to have my brother, Terry, join Styx,” says Lawrence Gowan. “Terry played on four of my six solo Gowan albums. He’s on records that include some of the world’s most renowned musicians: Tony Levin, Jerry Marotta, Jon Anderson, and Alex Lifeson, as well as touring with Gowan from 1985 to 1990 and again 2010 to this year of 2024. It’s really great to have him aboard!”

As Tommy Shaw exclaims, “We’re all looking forward to the Canadian shows that are coming up soon and introducing Terry Gowan on bass guitar and vocals as the newest Styx member!!! Are you ready to rock? We are too! See you soon!”

Drummer Todd Sucherman adds, “I’ve had the pleasure of being a rhythm section partner with Terry Gowan for several years in Gowan’s band, and I look forward to welcoming this talented multi-instrumentalist into the fold.”

STYX has five decades of hits and immortal rock songs. Like a symphony reaching a crescendo, a STYX show covers a wide range of styles. From “Suite Madame Blue” to “The Grand Illusion”, including “Lady”, “Blue Collar Man”, “Renegade”, “Miss America”, “Lorelei”, “Crystal Ball” and obviously “Come Sail Away,” the band has a virtually limitless supply of classics.

CRASH OF THE CROWN, STYX’s most recent album released in 2021, reached #1 on the Billboard Rock chart after its release.

Visit online:

www.styxworld.com
www.crashofthecrown.com
www.facebook.com/styxtheband
www.x.com/styxtheband
www.instagram.com/styxtheband
www.youtube.com/styxtheband

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Bassist/Music Educator Andreas Farmakalidis Candidate for LAUSD District 3

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Bassist:Music Educator Andreas Farmakalidis Candidate for LAUSD District 3

Bassist/Music Educator Andreas Farmakalidis Candidate for LAUSD District 3: A Champion for Music and Arts in Schools…

Andreas Farmakalidis, a renowned music educator and business owner, will be on the ballot for LAUSD District 3 School Board. As an independent candidate, Farmakalidis brings a fresh perspective and a passionate commitment to revitalizing music and arts programs in schools. With a proven track record of success and a vision for a brighter educational future, Farmakalidis aims to provide every child with a well-rounded education. Andreas Farmakalidis is not just an exceptional educator and business owner; he is also an accomplished movie composer, having contributed music to several renowned films.

His talent and dedication earned him a prestigious Spotify and Hollywood Music Award. Beyond music, Farmakalidis enjoys cooking, specializing in Greek and Cypriot cuisine. He is happily married to Alexis Lopez, a former American Idol finalist, and together they embrace the joy of parenting their two-year-old daughter, Mavis. Known for his unwavering hard work, dedication, and passion, Farmakalidis has always championed causes that are close to his heart, especially education. 

With a diverse and vibrant community in LAUSD District 3, Farmakalidis recognizes the unique challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. His commitment to this district is rooted in the belief that every child, regardless of their background or circumstances, deserves a high-quality education that equips them with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in life. 

“I have witnessed firsthand the transformative power of education in the lives of young people and the broader community,” says Farmakalidis. “It is our responsibility to invest in our schools, teachers, and students. By ensuring safe and welcoming learning environments and providing necessary resources and support to our educators, we can achieve equity and inclusivity in our educational system. 

Every child should have a fair shot at achieving their dreams.” Furthermore, Farmakalidis is dedicated to fostering strong partnerships between schools, parents, businesses, and the broader community. Recognizing that collaboration and engagement are essential to address the unique needs of the district, he aims to create opportunities for learning, growth, and success for all. In addition to his commitment to academic excellence, Farmakalidis firmly believes in the importance of the arts in education. 

He envisions a District 3 where every child has access to a comprehensive arts education, regardless of their background or neighborhood. By investing in music, visual arts, theater, and dance programs, and providing students with the necessary tools and resources, Farmakalidis aims to inspire creativity, foster innovation, and provide a powerful means of self-expression. The arts play a crucial role in developing critical thinking skills, enhancing cultural awareness, and building empathy by exploring diverse perspectives. “I am running for LAUSD District 3 because I believe that, with the right leadership, we can make our schools even better, provide our children with a brighter future, and strengthen our community as a whole,” says Farmakalidis.

 “Together, we can work towards a brighter, more equitable future for all our students.” In the upcoming election, LAUSD District 3 voters have a choice to make. Farmakalidis stands out as the only candidate who prioritizes bringing music and arts back to schools, recognizing the profound impact they have on students’ development and growth. The stakes are high in this election. The right candidate can shape the future of education in LAUSD District 3, ensuring that every child has access to a high-quality education and the opportunity to thrive. Andreas Farmakalidis’s proven dedication, commitment, and passion make him the ideal candidate to lead the way.

For more information on Andreas Farmakalidis and his campaign, please visit www.lausd3.com 

Follow him on social media @afarmakalidis.

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Freekbass Crowned TikTok LIVE Fest Finalist

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TikTok LIVE Fest

Hometown bassist and frontman, Freekbass is representing Cincinnati as a Top 30 Award Winner for TikTok LIVE Fest, with a ceremony set to take place in January 2024, in Los Angeles, CA.

TikTok LIVE Fest is a global event across 50+ countries and regions that recognizes and celebrates top creators. The contest took place from December 1st-16th, with each talent accruing points based on support from their communities during their live streams. What began as thousands of streamers competing worldwide, was reduced to a cut of 300, then 150, and ultimately the final Top 30 were crowned as the winners. Freekbass, who just started streaming on TikTok in March of this year, placed as Top 24 creator, globally. To give context, social media influencer and TikTok veteran, Jeffree Star, placed third in the same competition. All Top 30 winners receive airfare, hotel and travel expenses to appear at the TikTok LIVE Fest Awards Ceremony, along with other prizes.

Freekbass performs a one-man show, creating live music with his signature bass-playing, and also plays guitar, percussion, keys and vocoder, using DJ beats and samples, while staying continually engaged with the viewers via chat. He accredits his rapid rise in popularity to his loyal community, lovingly dubbed the “Freek Squad”. To meet them virtually and check out a nightly Freekbass live stream, visit TikTok.com/@freekbass most evening, starting at 10pm ET.

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Immortal Sÿnn Welcomes Former Grim Reaper Bassist Chaz Grimaldi

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Immortal Sÿnn Welcomes Former Grim Reaper Bassist Chaz Grimaldi

Immortal Sÿnn Welcomes Former Grim Reaper Bassist Chaz Grimaldi…

Denver-based heavy metal group, Immortal Sÿnn, proudly announces the inclusion of Chaz Grimaldi, former bass player of Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper, as the latest addition to their dynamic lineup. This development follows Sean Ryan’s departure from the band four months ago. With Chaz on board, Immortal Sÿnn is forging ahead, actively resuming live performances in the Denver area and strategically planning a forthcoming United States tour for the summer of 2024.

Chaz Grimaldi, an accomplished bassist originally from Silver Spring, MD, brings an impressive musical history to the fold. With a prolific career that notably includes his role in the 80s NWOBHM legends Grim Reaper, renowned for their iconic “See You In Hell” (2008-2016 & 2019), and Dave Lombardo’s Grip Inc. (1993), Chaz’s journey has been one of remarkable experiences. Reflecting on his global tours with distinguished musicians, he shares, “Having been fortunate to tour the world playing with some of the best musicians has been an incredible blessing in my life. The lifelong friendships of people I’ve met and the incredible places I’ve seen has been truly amazing.” Chaz’s recent endeavors with Tampa-based band Jezabelle garnered significant online attention. Now, as he joins forces with Denver’s Immortal Sÿnn, he eagerly anticipates contributing his prowess to the collective.

Chaz states, “I’m excited about the opportunity to play with Immortal Synn! The song catalog kicks ass and has all of the elements of METAL that I love to play. I look forward to being a part of this incredible band!”

Immortal Sÿnn recently unleashed their latest single, “Lady Nocturna,” on August 4th. Currently collaborating once again with engineer Nick Nodurft at Rusty Sun Audio in Parker, CO, the band is immersed in recording a 5-song EP titled “Hellspawn.” The EP is set to release on September 15th across major streaming platforms and digital stores, with physical CDs to follow.

Reflecting on the addition of Chaz Grimaldi, Tony Z, guitarist of Immortal Sÿnn, affirms, “We all knew Chaz was our guy when he came to the audition and actually knew all of the material and was well-prepared. He didn’t just ‘look at’ the songs we had sent him and fake his way through them like so many people in the local scene do when it comes to auditions.”

For fervent fans of bands such as Grim Reaper, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Megadeth, Immortal Sÿnn’s signature blend of heavy metal elements continues to resonate and excite.

Visit online at immortalsynn.com

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Listen to the First New Recording from The Fusion Syndicate in Over 10 Years!

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Listen to the First New Recording from The Fusion Syndicate in Over 10 Years!

In 2012, the world of fusion rock/jazz was shook by the introduction of a new supergroup of unparalleled musical virtuosos who came together under one umbrella for a blockbuster studio album.

Both the group and its debut album were called simply The Fusion Syndicate, and it featured some of the biggest names in fusion including members of Mahavishnu Orchestra, Yellowjackets, Brand X, Soft Machine, and Spyro Gyra PLUS Yes, Dream Theater, King Crimson, Tool, Porcupine Tree, Hawkwind and more! Now a new single is released today with the first new recording from The Fusion Syndicate in over 10 years!

That new single, “The Bottle,” is unique in several ways. For starters, it is the Fusion Syndicate’s first ever cover song, a trippy, groovy version of jazz poet Gil Scott-Heron’s 1973 dramatic story of alcohol abuse in the inner city. Second, the track is the first to incorporate R&B and soul music flavors into the band’s repertoire driven by a stellar vocal from intergalactic superstar Bootsy Collins. In addition, joining Collins is multi-instrumentalist Brian Jackson, who was a member of Gil Scott-Heron’s band and performed on the original recording of “The Bottle.” Here, Jackson recreates the vibe 1970s soul jazz while bringing a modern flair that perfectly suits The Fusion Syndicate’s style.

Could this be the first song from a forthcoming full-length album from The Fusion Syndicate? Stay tuned in to The Fusion Syndicate revolution to learn more!

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