Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z

Patitucci, John (James)

Is there life after fusion? Bassist John Patitucci's career proves there is. After establishing his reputation in the eighties as an electric bass virtuoso with keyboardist Chick Corea, he shifted back into the acoustic world with Corea and Wayne Shorter, and remains equally at home in both worlds. Along the way, he gained recognition as a composer, soloist and sideman, and has become one of the handful of headliners on his instrument. He is active as a bandleader and educator in New York City.

John James Patitucci was born on December 22nd, 1959 in Brooklyn, New York to Italian parents. His first began playing popular songs on the electric bass at around age ten. Patitucci moved with his family to San Francisco, California when he was thirteen, and switched to the acoustic bass. He attended Los Ceros Junior High School in San Francisco and Monte Vista High School in Danville, California. After graduating high school in 1977, he studied classical music at San Francisco State University and Long Beach State University outside of Los Angeles.

An early breakthrough in Patitucci's career came in Los Angeles, where he worked with Henry Mancini. Between 1982 and 1983 Patitucci was also a member of Joe Ferrell’s band, and he worked with Hubert Laws and Victor Feldman between 1983 and 1985. In April of 1985, he joined pianist Chick Corea’s group the Elektric Band, and appeared on all of the band’s albums from the 1980s, which included 1986’s Chick Corea Elektric Band, 1987’s Light Years, and 1988’s Eye of the Beholder.

In addition to playing with the Elektric Band, he was also the bass player for Corea’s Akoustic Band. He can be heard on Summer Night Live from 1987 and Chick Corea Akoustic Band from 1989. He was voted "Most Valuable Player" on the acoustic bass by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences during his tenure with Corea, which brought his skill to the attention of the wider jazz world, and he played briefly with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard during this time.

His self-titled first solo album was released in 1987, which featured extended electric and acoustic bass and showcased his emerging talent. He followed this with a string of solo albums that he released throughout the rest of the 1980s and into the 1990s on the GRP and Concord labels.

In the 1990s, Patitucci began leading his own trio, which included pianist Joey Calderazzo and drummer Peter Erskine. He also led a fusion band that featured keyboardist John Beasley and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta. Patitucci is heard on Colaiuta’s 1994 self titled album on the song “John’s Blues." Also in 1994, the bassist was commissioned to write a piece of music that featured him playing electric six string bass with the Italian Chamber Orchestra group Suono e Oltre. They performed the piece in Pescara, Italy and later in 1995 the piece was performed in Tokyo, Japan with the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra.

Patitucci recorded with drummer Roy Haynes and pianist Danilo Perez in 1999 for their collective album The Roy Haynes Trio with Danilo Perez and John Patitucci. Featured on the album was the song Patitucci started playing with saxophonist Wayne Shorter in 1999, at a time when Shorter returned to an acoustic format after playing with an all-electric band almost exclusively since the 1970s.

Along with drummer Brian Blade and pianist Danilo Perez, the new Wayne Shorter band began touring nationally in the United States and internationally. The first recording of the group, released in 2002, was entitled Footprints Live. This was followed by 2003’s Alegria, which won two Grammy Awards including Best Jazz Group Instrumental Performance and Best Jazz Instrumental Composition and 2004’s Beyond the Sound Barrier which featured the original Shorter compositions “Joy Ryder" and “As Far As the Eye Can See."

Patitucci played on saxophonist Michael Brecker last album in 2007. His beautiful tone can be heard on the song “The Mean Time," complementing the contributions Pat Metheny and Herbie Hancock.

In 1996, he returned to New York City, where he accepted the position of Artistic Director at the Bass Collective, and in 2003 he accepted a position as Associate Professor of Jazz Studies at City College. In addition to these positions he also an active participant in the Thelonious Monk Institute and the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead foundation.

Patitucci endorses Yamaha basses, and the company has manufactured two custom models which bear his name. Patitucci currently lives in New York City with his wife, cellist Sachi Patitucci, and their daughters Sachi and Isabella.

Select Discography

As John Patitucci

John Patitucci (1987)

On the Corner (1989)

Sketchbook (1990)

Heart of the Bass (1991)

Another World (1993)

Mistura Fina (1995)

One More Angel (1996)

Now (1998)

Imprint (2000)

Communion (2001)

Line by Line (2006)

With Chick Corea

Chick Corea Elektric Band (1986)

Eye of the Beholder (1988)

Chick Corea Akoustic Band (1989)

Inside Out (1990)

Live from the Blue Note Tokyo (1996)

With Wayne Shorter

Footprints Live (2002)

Alegria (2003)

Beyond the Sound Barrier (2004)

Contact information


Contributor: Jared Pauley