(Editor’s Note : Happy Birthday wishes to Robert Trujillo’s – 10/23)
The story spans over 30 years and this is all true; Me, Jaco Pastorius and Robert Trujillo.
The first time I saw Jaco play live was at Avery Fisher Hall in New York in 1982. I would never quite be the same.
The last time I saw Jaco was at the 55 Bar on Christopher St in NYC in 1986.
I was taking lessons from guitarist Mark Barasch. My main teacher, Steve Logan was on on the road with David Sanborn. Steve recommended Mark thus placing me in his West Village apartment once a week not far from The 55 Bar.
On this particular night I just finished a late lesson and thought I just pass by to see who was jamming. Yikes! it was Jaco playing in a trio setting. I have completely forgot the other musicians. It may have been Kenwood Dennard on drums and Hiram Bullock on guitar. I know Hiram because my teacher/sensei/guru Steve Logan played with Hiram as well. Come to think of it, it probably wasn’t Hiram because he would have been out on tour with Sanborn as well.
Here I was a few feet from one of my 2 bass heroes. (Yes, Stanley Clarke was the other.) I am up close and personal with Jaco and to my utter dismay he is playing through a combo amp with a blown speaker and not sounding like the Jaco I know.
On the break he went outside and as if if in some sort of surreal comic book now here I am speaking to my fallen idol. “Hey man, can you get me a better amp?”, he says. I didn’t know him and had never spoken with him before except maybe once on the West 4th St basketball courts. Now my mission was clearly laid out for me.
FIND JACO AN AMP!
I ran back to Mark’s place. I just played through his Polytone Minibrute III, not great but it’ll get the job done. I run full speed the 5 or 6 blocks to Mark’s apartment. I ring the buzzer. There’s no answer. I ring again and recall Mark saying he had his own gig that night.
Now what…I think to myself – I’ll buy an amp from Matt Umanov Guitars (just a block away). This is for Jaco and I gotta save the day. It’s after 9pm and Matt is closed. I walk back to The 55 with my gig bag on my back.
I failed my mission. The cats are back inside jamming. Shamed, I can not go back inside.
Fast forward 6 or 7 years to 1992.
I’m living in LA and working for Mike Tobias, the greatest luthier on the planet. I meet one of our top endorsees, Robert Trujillo. He’s a super nice guy playing for Suicidal Tendencies and Infectious Grooves. I organized a series of clinics in the LA area with Rob and some of his band mates. These clinics are being held at various Guitar Centers. Well here we are at our first event in Lawndale and the boys start playing a grove that turns into a sixteenth note high speed barrage of noise. Much to my chagrin the predominantly male audience whips themselves into a frenzy and a mosh pit forms. Sweat forms on my brow as I imagine the 100s of thousands of dollars worth of damage that is about to ensue. (Please don’t mention ‘sue’!)
I stopped the performance and begged for order and narrowly escape the evening with my life and my job. I also fall in love with a Guitar Center lady who would break my heart 7 weeks later. But that’s a story for another blog.
Fast forward again to the Winter NAMM 2013 convention in Anaheim. Twenty plus years later and Mr Trujillo has gone on to work with Ozzy Osbourne and a little band you may have heard of called, Metallica. I hadn’t seen Rob since but here he comes with an entourage walking into the Osiamo Music Gear booth. We greet and catch as much as his many fans around him would allow. Then he says too me, “Do you want to play it?” I say, “play what?” Just then the very talented Osiamo endorsee bassist Mike Bendy appears with THE HOLY GRAIL! It’s Jaco’s bass. Rob had purchased it some years previous and now here it was being delicately placed in my unworthy hands.
How did it play?