When Felix Pastorius joined the Yellowjackets to fill in for Jimmy Haslip, the move was supposed to be temporary.
When Haslip ultimately decided not to return, Pastorius stayed on and went into the studio for the group’s newest album, A Rise In The Road, which came out late last month.
But the story is even bigger than that. Felix – the son of Jaco Pastorius – actually played his father’s famed Bass of Doom on a couple of tracks on that album.
The legendary bass went missing for 20 years after it was stolen in 1986. After a legal battle between the Pastorius family and the guitar shop owner who possessed the instrument, Metallica’s Robert Trujillo stepped in and bought it.
Trujillo, who is also currently working on a documentary about Jaco, offered Felix the bass when he heard Felix was looking for a fretless sound on a couple of Russell Ferrante’s compositions. In an interview with Wayne Lockwood of the NY Daily News, Felix said he got the bass the day before the band went into the studio.
“It was a bit of a struggle to get through, just emotionally and because of what was involved,” Pastorius said in the interview. “It was kind of a foot-in-my-mouth decision. When I thought about it, it seemed like a hip idea, then it was, ‘What am I doing, with what some consider a holy grail of the bass; has my playing even given me enough validity to step up and use this?’ So many different things were going on. Then, I had to nail a Russell Ferrante tune, which is hard as hell.”
For years, Felix had avoided playing fretless. It wasn’t so much because of his father as much as it was his playing style and choice.
But playing bass and having the last name Pastorius obviously has to carry some weight, regardless of Felix’s choice to play fretless or fretted bass. In our interview with Felix when he joined the Yellowjackets, he touched on that subject.
“I don’t want them to try to compare me and him, but it’s inevitable,” he shared. “I’m just trying to have a good time and keep them interested in what’s going on on-stage and our relationship with the audience and our band members.”
“But I’m not trying to sound like him, and I’m not trying to play like him. I’m not him, you know?” he added.
Bottom line, it is great to hear Jaco’s bass on yet another recording, and we think it is quite fitting that Jaco’s son is carrying on the tradition.
The photo of Felix with the Bass of Doom is from Fodera Guitars’ Facebook page. Check out their photo album of the Bass of Doom making an appearance at their New York shop.