Jazz Bassist John Patitucci Doesn’t Want His Music to Be ’Technical Overload’ and a Display of ’Bass Tricks’

Just recently, jazz bass master John Patitucci sat down for a chat with the Bass Player magazine to discuss his work and approach to the instrument and writing music. The bassist, who’s famous for his work with Chick Corea, discussed bass-oriented projects which can sometimes gravitate towards the more “technically”-focused material. Distancing himself from such an approach, Patitucci argued:

“I never wanted to get locked into the ‘bass only’ market, which can be like a technical overload. Some people confuse the word ‘technique’ for ‘speed,’ but I’ve always tried to avoid the trap of using every song to display a particular set of bass tricks. I try to make my music about more than just bass mechanics.”

Going further into the matter, Patitucci expressed the importance of acoustic music, arguing:

“On my first few solo records, I was really just experimenting with a bass guitar voice. But before that, I’d played a whole lot of acoustic bass. People don’t realize how much you’re into acoustic music until they see you play a lot of it.”

For John, composition comes first and technical skills are there to serve the purpose of artistic expression. As he also explained during the interview, he always had a dream of making orchestral music, saying:

“I once told Chick Corea about a dream I had of making a record with an orchestra. That later became my solo album ‘Heart of the Bass,’ and when I look back on that record, it was a phenomenal experience. Who else would help produce a bass player’s record with an orchestra?! Chick kept wanting to help me like that, always.”

As far as influences go, Patitucci named saxophonist Wayne Shorter as one of the musicians who made a huge impact on him. Of course, Patitucci played with Shorter back in the day with the saxophonist’s quartet. He said:

“Wayne has actually been an influence on me since I was eight years old. That was the first time I heard him on record. His playing has had a huge impact on me.”

Regarding his album “Irmãos de Fé,” which he recorded with guitar player Yotam Silberstein and percussionist Rogério Boccato, Patitucci said:

“On that album, we featured some amazing music from some of the greatest composers that ever lived in Brazil. That music is all about lyricism and poetry, so you can’t just play it straight. You have to be very lyrical, almost like recitative in opera.”

Irmão De Fé (Remastered)

Although we usually tend to focus on metal, hard rock, blues rock, and similar guitar-oriented genres, jazz bass master John Patitucci is a musician worthy of praise. What’s more, he’s widely respected way outside of just jazz circles, serving as an inspiration to any rock or metal musician willing to expand their horizons.

Devoting himself to the art of bass in all of its forms when he was only 12 years old, he’s currently one of the most respected players in the industry. He’s also an incredibly prolific musician. Apart from his solo albums, he has also worked with other greats, including Chick Corea, Al Di Meola, Chuck Loeb, Lee Ritenour, and many others.

The list, of course, goes on and he’s also recorded as a sideman or backing musician for plenty of other names, even outside of the jazz sphere of things. For instance, we can find him on one of the tracks on Roger Waters’ 1992 album “Amused to Death.” Nonetheless, for the most part, Patitucci has devoted his life to jazz and is incredibly versed in all forms of bass, be it double bass or the regular electric one that we’re all used to.  

Photo: Tore Sætre (John Patitucci (211705))

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.