Bass Transcription: Jaco Pastorius’s Bass Solo on “The Days Of Wine And Roses”

Today, to maintain consistency on the matter, I decided to focus on another of Jaco Pastorius’s bass solos, but this time from his later work. This track is from Brian Melvin’s trio album Standards Zone, released in 1991.

Recorded in the late months of 1986, this studio album is probably one of Jaco’s last recordings, and it captures, in my opinion, a very spontaneous and genuine playing – always very musical and dynamic – and it provides an honest insight into the way he was improvising on more “standard” everyday kind of tunes.

The track is the beautiful “Days Of Wine And Roses” by Henry Mancini, and what strikes as soon as the piece starts is that the melody is played on the bass. Jaco’s lyrical approach proves again the importance of knowing the melody of every tune you play – as he says in his Modern Electric Bass video.

Analyzing this solo, it is pretty easy to spot a few signature licks, such as his 5-note grouping (bars 23-24), a melodic minor descending lick (bars 2-3 and 34), and fast scale runs (bar 38).

This transcription is my personal interpretation of how each phrase and respective fingering relate to the harmonic context. Establishing the chord-melody relationship is essential to contextualizing each idea and keeping track of the chord changes while playing.

Because there is not only one way to interpret this solo, I encourage you to experiment and find the one that works best for you. I suggest learning it either by ear or by consulting the transcription provided, analyzing it, relating it to the relevant chord, and then comparing your interpretation with mine.

Download the transcription and follow along with the video below.

I hope you’ll enjoy and learn much from this article, and I wish you good luck with your music journey. Stay safe and out of treble!

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