talk about how Jaco changed the landscape forever for the bass.
Steve Popovitch, head of A&R for Epic in the year 1975, tells the story of signing Jaco to a major recording contract. He explains how Epic was looking to expand their horizons to new music. One of his agents, drummer Bobby Columby of Blood Sweat and Tears, called Steve and said that they should sign Jaco. They brought Jaco in for an interview. He played for about 10 seconds and Steve told him he had a deal!
Now you hear Jaco describing the first album tracks with bravado. He explains, "when you hear the first track your dead!" He suggests that most everyone thinks it must be a piano player because he was playing the changes so well. He laughs! He tells about how he plays harmonics on Portrait of Tracy and describes his playing as it sounding as if 5 guys were playing. He explains how he plays the fretless in tune where others can't.
The next segment features Joni Mitchell. Here Joni talks about how she was finding the parts bass players were playing very predictable and boring. She was working with a bass player in a session and was asking him to play the bass in a specific more expressive way. He refused and suggested that she would be much better off to hook up with this weird bass player down in Florida who played with Phyllis Diller and Bob Hope. This led to their meeting and subsequent exploration of music together. You are treated to "Refuge of the Roads" from Joni's "Hejira" album showing off their unique sound together.
Jaco talks about how he was completely unfamiliar with Joni's music which quite possibly could have contributed to the fact that he was able to come in cold and add something special and unique to her tracks. He explains how he really liked the tune "Hejira". Then you are treated to Joni's and Jaco's work together on this song. In the middle of the tune, Joni explains how Jaco could see the shapes in the music and got away from the mere poking along that all of the other bass players were doing. She tells how he was playing Stravinsky figures in the upper middle register and fitting them in at the right places. She said it was if she dreamed him, because she didn't have to give him any instruction on what to play. Jaco orchestrated the fretless bass as a cello section overlaying multiple simultaneous tracks of bass including his first use of false harmonics.