"There was no
pressure, he was just living life. That's what
was so motivating about him; he had such a zest
for life itself, and such a passion for
music. An enthusiasm that was so
infectious. He was one of the most motivating
and inspiring people I've ever met."
- Allyn Robinson on Jaco Pastorius
A Lasting Friendship
was early 1972. Allyn Robinson was 21, Charlie
Brent was 23, and Jaco Pastorius was 20-years-old. The seminal Cochran album had
just been released on Epic Records and Wayne
Cochran and The C.C. Riders were riding high.
For Allyn, the Cochran experience was already
life-changing, but he had no idea of what was in
store. Allyn and Jaco
played together in
the Cochran band for nine months and formed a
lasting friendship. This was an incredible
growth period for these youngsters,
characterized by non-stop touring,
high-intensity gigs, constant writing, arranging
They lived and breathed
music. With Charlie Brent as his mentor,
Jaco went to school, learning everything he
could from the master musician, writer and
arranger. Allyn and Jaco were rhythm mates
and the groove was intense. An eternal
bond and lasting friendship was forged.
Inspired By Wayne Cochran and The C.C. Riders
As recounted by Bob Bobbing on the Portrait of
Jaco The Early Years CD, he was with Jaco
Pastorius the first night he heard the Wayne
Cochran band in Miami. He recalls Jaco's
impression after hearing the first few
instrumentals, which were Charlie Brent
originals the band played before Wayne took the
Per Bob, "Jaco was totally
impressed, and on the way home he made the
comment, "it's time to go to work, he needed to
start writing," he was genuinely inspired from
hearing Wayne Cochran & The C. C. Riders. In listening to Allyn's Fillmore West concert,
you get a great sense of the band that inspired
Jaco, with the rhythm section anchored by Allyn
on drums and Artie Goleniak on bass.
here to listen to Wayne
Cochran & The C.C. Riders "Live at The
Fillmore West, April 1, 1971.
Cochran bass player Artie
Goleniak was married with kids and needed to get
off the road. As fate would have it, Bob
Bobbing told Bob Gable (Cochran saxophonist) that there was this young kid playing in a Wayne
Cochran-type band called "Tommy Strand & The
Upper Hand" in Miami. So Allyn, Charlie, and Bob
Gable went to the club to hear the band.
Impressed with this skinny kid with great R&B
chops playing these cool staccato lines, Jaco
was invited to audition. Jaco came in and
played the book down cold. At the end of the
audition, Allyn recalls, "Charlie pulled out a
new chart to rehearse and Jaco said, "Well, what
do you want me to do with this?" [Charlie]
just rehearsed with my book for an hour, this is
a new tune." [Jaco] "Well, I can't
[Charlie] "What do you mean you can't read?"
[Jaco] "Well I came in last night and caught the
show." He had memorized the show from the night
They made Jaco an offer and the
show was on.
Charlie Brent's Influence
Charlie Brent, Cochran Music Director, was a
highly talented writer, arranger, guitarist, and
saxophonist. He attended Loyola University
School of Music, where he was instrumental in
establishing the jazz program.
New Orleans, Allyn and Charlie had this greasy
funk groove that was the perfect nesting bed for
Jaco. In his nine months with the Cochran
band, Jaco's development was intense, as a
player, writer and arranger.
As recounted by
Allyn, "Jaco was rooming with Charlie, picking
his brain on writing, arranging and all things
music. One day Jaco tells Charlie he wants to
write a tune for the band. Originally, most of
the tunes Jaco wrote revolved around bass
solos. You know, he had his bass solo, and he
said, "Well this is cool, I'll write a tune
around it." Charlie told him to write something
for rehearsal. We were rehearsing for gig
near Baltimore and Jaco brings this chart, which
later became Domingo.
He brought it to
rehearsal, and he put it out, but it was just a
head chart and solos. Charlie says, "Man, get
out of here with that. That's just a head
chart. If you're going to write something,
write me an arrangement." Determined, Jaco took
the tune, and came back the next day with an
elaborate, orchestrated horn arrangement. To my
knowledge, that was the first orchestrated and
arranged tune that he had written."
Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern
Drummer - By Ted Reed
As noted by Jaco
himself, his first instrument was drums.
In fact, he played drums exclusively until he
broke his arm around age 13 and was forced to
switch to bass.
As Allyn recalls, "With
the many hours we spent on the tour bus, Jaco
would often sit in front of me while I practiced
conditioning exercises on the back of the
seat, playing from Ted Reed's book, Syncopation.
Jaco would play along with my repetitive rhythms
practicing his arpeggios and scales for hours on
"I was playing in a band on drums -
one that I'd started actually - and I got kicked
out because I couldn't push on drums. But they
asked me back if I was playing bass, so I went
out and bought a bass and joined them again! I
was 15, I didn't know where the notes were or
anything, I just started grooving, y'know, and
I've never been out of work since, with the
bass!" - Jaco Pastorius 1978 (Clive Williamson
While Jaco did
not invent the fretless bass guitar, he is
widely credited with creating the fretless bass
sound and, ultimately, changing the face of
music with his lyrical and groundbreaking tone.
Clearly, Jaco had a sound in his head and
literally took matters into his own hands by
pulling the frets out of his 1962 Fender Jazz
Bass while on the road with the Cochran band.
Click on the video, below to enjoy
Allyn's radio interview (audio only) with Robert
Sturcken in January 2012, where he reminisces
about his time with Jaco and brings the famous
fret-pulling episode to life!
As recounted by Allyn, who was in the hotel room
with Charlie Brent when Jaco pulled the frets
out, the scene was somewhat disconcerting at the
time, but also a classic and seminal moment in
the history of music.
Discusses His Fretless Bass - An Interview with
Clive Williamson - October 1978
Clive: Do you
get that incredible singing bass sound on an
ordinary guitar, or are there some special
attachments that you use?
don't use anything special... I've actually got
less on it! I have a fretless bass, so it's
virtually like I'm playing a wood bass, you know
In other words, the strings go into the wood on
the neck and then - being that it's a bass
guitar - it gets that bright, direct sound. So
I'm the first guy to be using a fretless, is
actually what it boils down to, and then more,
because I'm the first to really get down and
play it, because other guys cannot play it in
tune, y'know? I've been playing the bass guitar
for almost 12 years and I've been playing
fretless for about nine, so I've got quite a bit
of mileage in my hands already. I play in tune
like a cello player, and it's just legitimate
vibrato. There are no tricks... it's just all in
the hands! I just have a standard 1962 - I think
it is - Fender Jazz bass, that I took the frets
Portrait of Jaco, The Early Years
For readers who want to dig a
little deeper on Jaco's time with the Cochran
band, we highly recommend the 2-CD Set Portrait
of Jaco, The Early Years 1968-1978.
Allyn plays drums on five tracks from this
collection, including rare recordings of Jaco's Amelia
and Charlie Brent's Rice Pudding.
It's a "must-have"
for any Jaco fan and an excellent introduction
to Allyn's playing.
The following excerpt
from the Allmusic review says it all...
"Simply put, there is nothing remotely
of Jaco on the market. This two-CD package
is an aural biography, told by Pastorius himself,
his father, and the people he came up with and
played with throughout his life. Prepared by
Bob Bobbing, in full cooperation with the
Pastorius family, this is
one of the most emotionally moving and
aesthetically revealing documents of its kind.
It feels honest, errs on the side of too much
information, rather than not enough, and
unabashedly celebrates the development of a
genius in the making."
- Thom Jurek, Allmusic
1971, Allyn recorded a landmark album for Epic
Records at Columbia Studios in San Francisco,
"Cochran," a highly influential album as noted
in this recent quote from drum legend Peter
"I was listening to Allyn's
drumming back in 1972 on the album "Cochran" and
it had a big influence on me ... Allyn was
Jaco's rhythm mate in the Wayne Cochran band
(the band Jaco toured with pretty much up until
the time he joined Weather Report) "Allyn was my
first connection to New Orleans drumming aside
from some Earl Palmer recordings, but there was
something about Allyn's beat that must have
gotten inside of my own beat for this is one of
the only explanations of why and how Jaco
decided to recommend me so strongly to Weather
Report after only one hearing, i.e., he heard
and sensed a rhythm comfort zone (in addition to
the jazz chops I had) ... and that comfort zone
came directly from Allyn's influence on me."
- Drumming Legend Peter Erskine
This influence can he heard on The
Chicken from Jaco's The
Birthday Concert CD, in which Peter lays down
an unbelievable soul-funk beat very reminiscent
of Allyn's playing on Somebody's Been Cutting on
My Groove, from the Cochran album. A
rock-solid pocket combined with that greasy New
Orleans funk provided Jaco the quintessential
lot of what Jaco brought to music we take for
granted now, but in the early '70s, nobody
played that way. The way bass players play
today is post-Jaco.
During our time
together, he was discovering himself.
There was no pressure, he was just living
life. That's what was so motivating about him;
he had such a zest for life itself, and such a
passion for music. An enthusiasm that was so
infectious. He was one of the most motivating
and inspiring people I've ever met.
his time with Cochran, Jaco carried around a gig
tape recorded on cassette which had various live
performances and rehearsals. I think the
gig tape represented a special time in Jaco's
musical journey and he cherished the music and
the memories it brought back. I was always
honored that Jaco would play the gig tape for
musicians throughout his life and say, "Check
this out, this is what real music sounds like."
And for all of his stratospheric musical
accomplishments and the level of musicianship he
was surrounded with, it speaks volumes for his
time with the Cochran band and how special that
period was, for all of us.
We were so lucky
to have Jaco with us for as long as we did.
The world is a far better place for it and
music, as we know it, was changed forever.
But more than anything else, Jaco was a dear
friend and I miss him a lot."
- Allyn Robinson - 2012
here to listen to Allyn's
new recording of the Jaco classic, "Amelia!"