Jazzman’s doublebass is battered by US security

Jazzman’s doublebass is battered by US security


norman lebrecht

May 31, 2014

John Patitucci is a Grammy-winning virtuoso bass player, presently travelling with the Wayne Shorter Quartet.

This is what happened to his instrument at the hands of the US transport Security Administration.

We’re not sure where. John posted: Look what the TSA did to my bass today and how I had to play on it at tonight’s concert!





  • MacroV says:

    A few more details are probably in order; for instance how does he know it was TSA and not simply rough handling by airline/airport staff? I assume that one always has to check a bass.

    • John Patitucci says:

      Hi to all,
      The bass was in a very strong David Gage bass trunk. There was absolutely NO damage to the trunk itself, on the outside or inside. The only explanation is that when TSA inspected the bass ( this time i wasn’t allowed to be present) they dropped the bass when they removed it from the case and it was seriously damage with multiple cracks , some cracks stretching over 2 feet long. I am all for TSA keeping all of us travelers safe, BUT , the musicians must be allowed to supervise the instruments’ being securely handled and restored to it’s protective case. Often , the agents have been kind enough to consult me and allowed me to be there with them , so as to insure the safety of the instrument as well.
      This is unfortunately , something that has happened to many bassists since 2001. i am one of many. Surely, this can be avoided, don’t you think????

      • norman lebrecht says:

        John, at which airport did this take place?

      • Suzanne Rickman says:

        Mr. Patitucci,

        That stinks! I am a violinist, and my husband, Gary Rickman is a luthier, specializing in bass repair. He just finished restoring a bass for Bob Hurst, who’s bass was severely damaged by an airline accident last summer, at Ron Carter’s recommendation. Bob loves it and is very happy! We live in the Chicago area. (708) 799-7095. garylrickman@hotmail.com.

      • Michael Schaffer says:

        Is that the Bussetto shaped Pöllmann you used to play? You let me and a friend try it out after a concert in Berlin many moons ago (and we didn’t smash it up!).

  • MW says:

    Mr. Patitucci,
    So sorry about your bass! That is just unbelievable that anyone would do something like that, accident or no, and not make you aware of what happened, never mind the TSA! I hope someone is made accountable for their “actions” and is made aware of the value and age of such a georgeous instrument! I also hope that it is repairable without losing its natural tone. Oh well, regardless, be well and thank you for sharing your incredible talents with all of us… Even with the unworthy TSA agent(s) who are responsible for the damage done! God Bless you brother.

  • kazukoono@aol.com says:

    John, I am deeply sorry to hear about the damage to your bass. Absolutely musicians should be allowed to accompany their instruments for any inspection.The TSA is Not trained in handling instruments. Did you contact the 802 Union? They seem to helpful with kind of situation. There is a cello repair artist in Somers area that we take Sasha’s cello for repairs. If you need someone local in Westchester. If there is anything we can do, please let us know.~Kazuko

  • Christopher Wilke says:

    My condolences! (I’ve been a fan of your work for many years and you certainly don’t deserve this shameful treatment.)
    Exactly this same thing happened to my baroque lute on Delta Airlines: instrument severely mangled, but no damage to the case. I strongly suspect some baggage handler got curious about the odd “guitar” and played Pete Townshend with it.
    The lute was very nearly destroyed. It took the intervention of a Congresswoman to get Delta to eventually play nice, but they have agreed to at least pay for repairs. It is currently with the original maker undergoing the lengthy process of being brought back to life.
    In the meantime, I am out an instrument. There are not so many 13-course lutes sitting around to borrow or rent! And, while the maker is extremely skilled, who knows what personality with instrument will have when I get it back?

  • Christopher Wilke says:

    Soon, so many musicians will be afraid to fly with their instruments that the airlines will become the de facto arbiters of global artistic commerce.

  • Bruce says:

    What a shame. So sorry to hear of that. It happens way too much with airlines. Bruce

  • Arkansas Red-Ozark Troubadour says:

    I once asked the airline ticket lady to send my banjo to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, my luggage to San Antonio, Texas, and my guitar to Fresno, California. She said, “I can’t do that.” I replied, “I don’t see why not. You did it last week!” All jokes aside I saw instruments lost, broken, or damaged, in one way or another even before the TSA thing, so I know the “care” the airlines take when handling musical instruments. I once saw them throw my banjo from the baggage part of the plane to the cart that brings the luggage to the terminal. Luckily, it was a strong traveling case and no damage was done. And if you made a claim it was like you were asking for world peace.The airlines could care less. So sorry for this happened. It seems like it’s getting worse. Good luck.

  • Stop Traveling Musicians' Abuse!!! says:

    This is one of the Comments I’ve made at http://bit.ly/bu0Rqe

    “Patitucci has confirmed he was not allowed to stay present while they inspected his bass”

    Why? Why? Why?????!!!!!?????

    This is yet another SHAMEFUL EXAMPLE of Musicians Nightmares, when they are traveling with their instruments!!!


    In additions to:

    Musicians Unions, Federations, Associations, Societies, etc WORLDWIDE

    Why don’t they ALL UNITE

    Politicians, WORLDWIDE

    Show Business Celebrities WORLDWIDE

    and use every chance to Expose Such Sad Stories in the Media, and thus help protect their fellow musicians?!

    With Social Media, it would cost between Nothing to Very Little to Raise the Awareness on this Topic?

    Why aren’t Music Instruments Insurance Companies not LOBBYING STRONGLY against such abuse? After all it is they who end up paying for such losses!!!!

    Thank You EVERYONE Again for your Support of this Page http://bit.ly/bu0Rqe and this Topic!!!!