My girlfriend’s dad and I were texting about jazz recently (sick right), and the topic of Jaco Pastorious came up: “I got to see Weather Report in the 70s (1976?) for Heavy Weather and really thought that the bass was just different and on a new level. What a player. That fretless bass changed the sound dramatically. Musicians tend to be tragic people unfortunately.” Insights like this are the best way I can put a player like Jaco in context; a guy who, without frame of reference, sounds like plenty of other bassists. But when noted chronologically, you eventually figure out that NO ONE sounded that way BEFORE he did. The Netflix doc that came out a couple years ago helps illustrate this point as well.
Jaco Pastorious is the Weather Report bassist’s official solo debut (coming 2 years after a live album with Pat Matheny, Bruce Ditmas and Paul Bley, dubbed retroactively by some as Jaco’s proper debut), borne out of his frustration and marginalization within WR by bandleader Joe Zawinul. The album was produced by Bobby Colomby of Blood, Sweat & Tears and features accompaniment by Herbie Hancock, Lenny White, Wayne Shorter, Hubert Laws and more.
Jaco approached the limitations of the bass guitar and blew them wide open, conjuring vivid, elaborate pieces utilizing open string harmonics and an inventive composition voice. Case in point: “Portrait Of Tracy,” never has a solo bass tune carried so much emotional baggage, pilfered in hip-hop by artists as wide-ranging as Chingy, Master P and fucking Cannibal Ox (another sample you might recognize: “Opus Pocus”). Also worth mentioning is the huge Afro-Cuban influence Jaco carried into his music; check his version of Herbie’s “Speak Like a Child,” or Bird’s “Donna Lee” which opens the record for a taste. Other highlights: “Continuum,” Cha-Cha,” “Okonkolé Y Trompa.” The defining artistic statement from possibly the most inventive bass guitarist that ever lived; great-sounding Music On Vinyl pressing on silver colored 180g vinyl, individually numbered edition of 2000, highly recommended.
- 180g silver colored vinyl
- housed in glossy jacket
- edition of 2000 individually-numbered copies
- music label: Music On Vinyl 2019
reviewed by nick nightingale 03/2019