When Sean Drabitt first heard jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius he said it was immediately “pretty obvious” that this was a musician worthy of his attention.
At the time Drabbit was going to high school in Victoria, and as a bassist himself he said Pastorius – a member of American jazz fusion band Weather Report from 1976 to ‘81 – influenced him to pursue jazz.
“He just seemed to be the perfect combination of technique, creativity, music history, had deep knowledge of harmony, all the instruments … He had the musical ability to use all of his technique to make things more musical rather than just impressive,” Drabitt said.
After Pastorius left Weather Report he battled substance abuse and in 1987 he died at the age of 35 following a fight with a bouncer.
“Around the time he died I was really starting to get into him and then when I saw that he passed away it kind of spurred me on to even look into his playing more and I just got totally obsessed,” Drabitt said.
For more than a decade Drabitt has been honouring his hero in a form of a tribute concert and on Aug. 26 Drabitt brings that show to Nanaimo’s Lighthouse Bistro. Drabitt will be joined by saxophonist Andrew Greenwood, pianist Brent Jarvis and drummer Hans Verhoeven.
The concert will feature a mix of Pastorius’ solo and group work, particularly from the late ’70s and early ’80s.
“It was sort of late ‘77 when he started to go off the rails, even though everything he did pretty much up to about ‘82 was perfect. I mean, it was incredible,” Drabitt said.
Drabitt’s jazz has taken him from Victoria to Los Angeles, New York and New Orleans but these days he’s living in Korea, playing a with a combination of Korean musicians and expats from around the world.
“I play a lot with a Scottish piano player and English trumpet player. There’s an American drummer and vibes player I play with a lot so they’re from all over,” he said.
“It’s a small scene but it’s a core scene of players that I really connect with.”
Drabitt still has a place on Vancouver Island and still makes it back from time to time. He said it feels comforting to perform on familiar soil.
“It’s kind of like it feels like an old shoe, you know? I come back and play with the guys I play with and it feels familiar,” he said.
WHAT’S ON … Sean Drabitt performs at the Lighthouse Bistro on Sunday, Aug. 26 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20, $15 for students, available at the venue, 250-754-3212, Fascinating Rhythm, or www.quadwranglemusic.com.