The late Victor Bailey on “kicking ass” with Madonna and embracing Jaco’s legacy in Weather Report

by GuitarDomain

Having replaced Jaco Pastorius in Weather Report at just 22 years old, the late Victor Bailey, who passed away in November 2016, is still widely regarded as one of the bass world’s greatest ever players.

Much like Jaco, Victor was raised on a wide-range of musical ideas thanks to his father Morris Bailey Jnr’s job as a top-flight composer and arranger to the likes of Patti LaBelle, The Stylistics, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes and legendary jazz singer Nina Simone. His father was also an acclaimed sax player, recording and performing live sessions with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Smith and Lee Morgan.

It’s perhaps thanks to his father’s open-minded approach that Bailey was able to embrace Jaco’s legacy in Weather Report, while stepping into those shoes to replace him in the very group that made Jaco a household name. Yet Jaco’s influence on Bailey was more spiritual than technical, and he was unflinching in his criticism of the hordes of bassists claiming him as an influence.

(Image credit: Photo by Andrew Lepley/Redferns)

“It’s interesting how many people are supposed to be influenced by Jaco who have no groove and no soul!” said Victor when I interviewed him in 2010. “Everything the guy ever played always had a groove, always a feeling, and it wasn’t always a million notes all the time! I try to remind all these young guys – and they’ve got his records and they’re always mentioning Jaco – none of his songs are complicated. 

Related Posts