“He already had his signature tone and touch, and a few of his signature licks, too”: A year before he was discovered, Jaco Pastorius laid down this classic R&B bassline on Little Beaver’s 1974 hit, I Can Dig It Baby

Jaco Pastorious, portrait, c 1975
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In interviews throughout his career Jaco Pastorius often acknowledged his bass guitar influences, and perhaps to the surprise of some of his jazz-leaning fans, nearly all were R&B players – James Jamerson, Jerry Jemmott and Bernard Odum were often mentioned. A deep foundation in R&B permeated Jaco's feel and sense of rhythm, separating him from many of his bass-playing peers in jazz.

I Can Dig It Baby was recorded by Florida soul artist Little Beaver (real name Willie Hale) and appears on his 1974 album Party Down. Perhaps more notably, it also features on Portrait Of Jaco: The Early Years, 1968–1978, a collection of producer Bob Bobbing’s personal recordings of a young Jaco.

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Nick Wells

Nick Wells was the Editor of Bass Guitar magazine from 2009 to 2011, before making strides into the world of Artist Relations with Sheldon Dingwall and Dingwall Guitars. He's also the producer of bass-centric documentaries, Walking the Changes and Beneath the Bassline, as well as Production Manager and Artist Liaison for ScottsBassLessons. In his free time, you'll find him jumping around his bedroom to Kool & The Gang while hammering the life out of his P-Bass.