The song was inspired by and is actually a tribute to Jaco’s first wife, more specifically Tracy Sexton. A song full of harmonics and loving vibes, ‘Portrait of Tracy’ was recorded at Camp Colomby Studios and Columbia Recording Studios C&B in New York City. It has a total length of 2 minutes and 23. It was produced by Bobby Colomby and was featured on Jaco’s official eponymous debut studio album which was released in 1976. The label which released the song is Epic/Legacy which pertains to Sony Music.
The enduring legacy that his song has enjoyed to this day made it a bass standard, both in the genre of jazz fusion and beyond. The fantastic and amazing harmonics displayed throughout the composition makes it unique and remarkable and, thereby, a touchstone for bassists to truly demonstrate their musical aptitudes.
The astonishing musicianship and creative genius that Jaco Pastorius had was fully explored on a solo level with ‘A Portrait of Tracy’ and the rest of the songs on his debut self-titled studio album from 1976 to such an extent that it has influenced countless generations of both apprentice and well-established bassists out there.
‘A Portrait of Tracy’ gained more popularity outside the range of jazz fusion by being sampled by the American rhythm & blues and hip-hop group SWV in their hit song ‘Rain’ which was released in 1998. Now, fast forward in 2022, it is absolutely safe to say that the enchanting instrumental composition ‘Portrait of Tracy’ is not only a jazz fusion standard but a bass standard in general, played by many bassists from many musical genres from across the world! Jaco’s musical legacy lives on to this day and it is absolutely amazing!
On a personal note, I must say that I have never, ever listened to any other instrumental song that has more beauty, refinement, gentleness, tenderness, and magic that ‘Portrait of Tracy’ has, all the more when considering it solely on bass. Below you can integrally listen to it via Youtube (both the studio version and a fantastic live version from a 1978 Weather Report concert in Offenbach, then in West Germany). I truly hope you’ll like it! All the best, much health, take care, stay safe, many blessings, and great peace your way! God bless you and keep on listening to Jaco Pastorius and jazz fusion!
Documentation sources and external links:
- The enduring influence of Jaco Pastorius’s Portrait of Tracy on www.jazzfm.com
- Portrait of Tracy on www.wikipedia.org (in English)
- Portrait of Jaco on www.jacopastorius.com