Bass Transcription: Evan Marien’s Arrangement of Jaco Pastorius’ “Havona”

Evan Marien: HavonaEvan Marien‘s fantastic take on the Jaco Pastorius-penned classic “Havona” was high on my list of pieces to transcribe for this monthly feature. Evan’s breathtaking melodic soloing on the chord changes simultaneously calls to mind the spirit of the original, while showcasing his own unique melodic voice.

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“Havona” has a 22-bar form consisting of:

  • 2 bars Emaj7#11
  • 2 bars Cmaj7#11
  • 2 bars Bmaj7#11
  • 2 bars Gmaj7#11
  • 1 bar Em7
  • 1 bar Emaj7#11
  • 2 bars Cmaj7#11
  • 2 bars Bmaj7#11
  • 2 bars Gmaj7#11
  • 5 bars Bsus4
  • 1 bar fill

This is repeated six times during Evan’s performance. On the first time through the changes (Letter A), Evan plays upper register chords, fingerpicking them with the thumb, first, second and third fingers of the picking hand. His favored voicing for the major7#11 chord is to play the root, fifth and ninth as stacked fifths, with the major third played above these. Note that the major7 and the #11 are not present in this particular voicing. Evan also uses the stacked fifths idea starting on the A-string, meaning that the major third cannot be played above them. However, when using this voicing he often takes the opportunity to add color in other ways. Check out bars 13 and 14 for a great example: Evan plays the chord voicing mentioned above, letting it ring while he adds the open B-string for serious depth. He then alternates between E# and F# in the voicing (bar 14) – E# is the #11 of the chord, F# is of course the fifth. Also of interest is the string of harmonics used to decorate bars 15 and 16 – more chord tones are used here: D, A,F# and C#, the fifth, ninth, maj7 and #11 of the Gmaj7#11 chord. Even then ends the first playing of the changes with the terrifying unison riff from the original track (bar 22).

Evan begins his solo at Letter B, playing slow, melodic phrases to begin with. Once again, you’ll notice that chord tones play a big part of the note choices here. Evan takes his solo to the next level at letter C, opening with a great lick based on fourths (bar 45). Another fourth-based line is used in bars 57-60, where Evan plays a repeating four-note motif up and down the neck using rhythmic displacement to keep the line interesting. His note choices continue to impress in this line – check out bar 57 for example: the first group of four notes is G#, C#, F# and G#, the thirteenth, ninth and fifth of the Bmaj7#11 chord – while the next group is A#, D#, G# and A#, the major seventh, major third and thirteenth of the chord. This idea continues up the neck, hitting more colorful chord tones along the way.

Evan uses another interval-based lick in bars 64-66. Here, he takes some liberties with the harmony, playing ideas based on stacked major thirds. Whilst this monster lick drifts outside of the Bsus4 tonality briefly, Evan brings it home nicely with a simple, melodic lick in bars 67-68.

At Letter E Evan begins playing a more traditional bass line, based on Jaco’s original part. Ghost notes and rests are crucial to the feel here, so be sure to play them as written. Each phrase is once again heavy on the chord tones – it really is worth analyzing lines such as these to see how chord tones can be used to put together fantastic melodic lines.

Evan ends this piece with a final reading of the chords, played in the upper register in the same manner as the beginning of the piece. He ends the piece with some tasteful octave whole notes.

There is of course much more that could be written about this great piece, and I would encourage you to do your own analysis of it as you learn it. As with any great solo, learning to play it will teach you some great licks, but studying and analyzing it as well will teach you some great ideas!

I hope you enjoyed this month’s transcription! Be sure to let us know which pieces you’d like to see transcribed on No Treble, and let us know how you get on with this one (including sending us your audio or video links of your performance of this tune)!

Follow along with Evan’s performance:

Stuart Clayton writes for and runs Bassline Publishing, a small company who specialize in bass guitar tuition and transcription books. Check out for more.

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Share your thoughts

  1. Awesome! Love this performance. Off to the shed!

  2. awesome work stuart! thanks!

  3. Nice tone too…set-up?

    • Thanks, Ray! I love that kind of stuff! These harmonies in the background could have been played by A. Holdsworth, back in the days. Pastorius was on fretless on that song, right?

  4. That’s a life’s work right there! Lol Fantastic.