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John Patitucci

A prolific, highly-lauded bassist, John Patitucci has distinguished himself as a technically adept and boundary-pushing player, known as much for his fusion-influenced electric bass work, as well as his acoustic post-bop albums. Blessed with speed, versatility, and a clear tone, Patitucci emerged to acclaim in the '80s as a member of pianist Chick Corea's Elektric Band before picking up a Grammy-nomination for his chart-topping 1988 debut, John Patitucci. Along with his continued association with Corea, he has earned further Grammys as a member of Wayne Shorter's acoustic band. He has also worked with such top-level artists as Herbie Hancock, Michael Brecker, Mariah Carey, Al Di Meola, and others. While jazz is his core idiom, his albums have found him regularly exploring Latin and Afro-Cuban traditions, as on 2000's Imprint with drummer Brian Blade and saxophonist Chris Potter, 2003's Songs, Stories & Spirituals with singer Luciana Souza, and 2015's Children of the Light with pianist Danilo Perez. He has continued to explore new sounds, including collaborating with his inventive electric guitar quartet for 2015's Brooklyn and showcasing his virtuosity as an unaccompanied soloist on 2019's Soul of the Bass. Born in Brooklyn in 1959, Patitucci started out on electric bass at age ten and by his teens was composing and performing on the acoustic bass. Initially self-taught, he gained facility playing along to Motown albums featuring bassist James Jamerson (a big early influence), as well as albums by Ray Charles and the Beatles. He was also given a crate of jazz LP's from his grandfather, and quickly fell under the sway of players like Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Smith, and Wes Montgomery. In the early '70s, Patitucci's family moved to the West Coast. There, he began taking lessons with teacher Chris Poehler. He also started taking piano lessons and learning about music theory. It was during this period that he greatly expanded his skills, studying the work of legendary acoustic bassists like Ron Carter, Dave Holland, Charlie Haden, and Eddie Gomez, as well as the electric style of players like Marcus Miller, Stanley Clarke, and Jaco Pastorius. He also gained further live experience, playing with Gap Mangione (brother of Chuck Mangione), and veteran vibraphonist Victor Feldman. After high school, he studied music at San Francisco State University and Long Beach State University. Following his graduation in the early '80s, he found himself in-demand for session and touring gigs, playing with luminaries like Wayne Shorter, Bobby Shew, Frank Strazzeri, and others. In 1985, he Patitucci joined keyboardist Chick Corea's Elektric Band, making his recorded debut with the group the following year on their Grammy-nominated, top ten jazz album The Elektric Band. The group was Corea's first ensemble-oriented project since the break-up of his landmark fusion ensemble Return To Forever and, along with Patitucci, introduced such jazz stars like drummer Dave Weckl, saxophonist Eric Marienthal, and guitarist Frank Gambale. Patitucci was also on board for the group's 1987 album Light Years, which took home the grammy for Best R&B Instrumental Performance (orchestra, group or soloist). He would remain a collaborator with Corea throughout his career, appearing on albums like 1989's Chick Corea Akoustic Band, 1990's Grammy-nominated Inside Out, and 1991's number two Billboard Jazz Album Beneath the Mask. As a leader, Patitucci made his debut in 1987 on GRP with John Patitucci, backed by fellow Corea-bandmate Weckl, drummers Peter Erskine and Vinnie Colaiuta, as well as tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker. The album, which showcased hsi crisp brand of crossover jazz and funk, landed at number six on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart and took home the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Fusion Performance. He returned with several more well-received albums for GRP, including 1989's Grammy-nominated On the Corner and 1990's Sketchbook. Heart of the Bass arrived in 1991 on Corea's Stretch Records label, and featured Corea, as well as percussionist Alex Acuna and pianist John Beasley. Patitucci rounded out his time on GRP releasing albums like 1993's Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen-produced Another World (also Grammy-nominated) and 1994's Mistura Fina, the latter-of-which found him expanding into Brazilian sounds, working with vocalists Joao Bosco, Dori Caymmi, Ivan Lins, and others. Patitucci then moved to Concord and made his debut for the label with 1997's One More Angel which found him embracing a more acoustic post-bop sound. Along with appearances by his wife cellist Sachi Patitucci, the album featured saxophonists Chris Potter and Michael Brecker, drummer Paul Motian, pianist Alan Pasqua, and more. The similarly post-bop leaning Now followed a year later and again featured Brecker and Potter, as well as guitarist John Scofield and drummer Bill Stewart. Along with his own work in the '90s, Patitucci also appeared on projects with Jeff Beal, Lee Ritenour, the GRP All-Star Big Band, George Benson, Dave Grusin, and others. In 2000, Patitucci released the adventurous, Latin-jazz infused Imprint, featuring drummer Jack DeJohnette, saxophonist Chris Potter, pianist Danilo Perez, and drummer/percussionist Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez. That same year, he contributed to the Hudson Project, an all-star quartet album with guitarist John Abercrombie, saxophonist Bob Mintzer, and drummer Peter Erskine. He and Perez also joined drummer Roy Haynes for a trio album. The following year, he picked up a Grammy-nomination for Communion, which found the bassist exploring Afro-Cuban and Brazilian sounds alongside vocalist Luciana Souza, pianist Brad Mehldau, saxophonists Joe Lovano and Chris Potter, drummer Brian Blade, and others. Another Grammy-nomination followed with 2003's Songs, Stories & Spirituals, which featured a mix of folk, classical, and Latin sounds. Also that year, Patitucci re-joined Corea for the Grammy-nominated Rendezvous in New York and the Elektric Band reunion album To The Stars, the latter-of-which reached number eight on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz charts. In 2005, Patitucci was back with Wayne Shorter's acoustic quartet, appearing alongside drummer Blade and pianist Perez on the Grammy-winning Alegria. That same year, he contributed to Herbie Hancock's Possibilities. He then returned to his solo work with the 2006 small group date, Line by Line, also featuring Blade, as well as guitarist Adam Rogers and saxophonist Potter. Along with dates for Al Di Meola and Ferenc Nemeth, Patitucci also played on saxophonist Michael Brecker's final studio album, Pilgrimage, released posthumously in 2007. Following sessions with Tim Ries, Chuck Loeb, and Ralph Bowen, the bassist picked up a further Grammy-nod for his 2009 trio album, Remembrance, with Joe Lovano and Brian Blade. He also played on Jack DeJohnette's Music We Are and joined Kurt Elling for the singer's 2011 album The Gate. In 2015, Patitucci released Brooklyn, an electric guitar quarter collaboration with guitarists Adam Rogers and Steve Cardenas. The album reached number 11 on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart. Also that year, he joined longtime associates Brian Blade and Danilo Perez for Children of the Light. In 2018, he was back with Shorter for the saxophonist's Grammy-winning Emanon. The following year, he released the intimate solo bass album Soul of the Bass, that featured guest spots from his wife, cellist Sachi Patitucci, and his daughters. He then joined pianist Tim Ray and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington for 2020's Excursions and Adventures.
© Matt Collar /TiVo
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