Resonance Records goes out of its way again to unearth yet another significant chapter in jazz history, and once again, it's one that relatively few fans have ever heard. This performance of Jaco Pastorius' Word of Mouth Big Band was captured during George Wein's Kool Jazz Festival at Avery Fisher Hall. It was broadcast on NPR's Jazz Alive program, but this double disc contains the entire performance, with more than 40 minutes of additional music.
Although one often thinks of Jaco Pastorius' first solo album as being 1976's Jaco on Epic, producer/keyboardist Paul Bley actually gave Pastorius his first chance to lead a recording two years earlier. Coincidentally titled Jaco, this spontaneous set (which has been reissued on CD) is also significant for being among guitarist Pat Metheny's first recordings; completing the quartet are Bley on electric piano and drummer Bruce Ditmas. The music consists of three songs by Bley, five from Carla Bley, and "Blood" by Annette Peacock. Pastorius sounds quite powerful, but Metheny's tone is kind of bizarre, very distorted and not at all distinctive at this point.
Reissue with the latest remastering. Features original cover artwork. Comes with a descripton in Japanese. An obscure 80s appearance from bassist Jaco Pastorius – a musician whose style is right at home on this electric set from drummer Brian Melvin! Melvin himself plays acoustic drums and percussion – but there's also a fair bit of keyboard work on the record too – 80-styled elements that really draw a lot from the stepping, melodic bass work of Jaco – who really gets to shine on most numbers, and really gets the album going from a rhythmic perspective. There's a bit of added tabla and bongos from Aushim Chaudhuri, who brings some nice acoustic textures – and the overall feel is kind of in the same territory of some of Jaco's early 80s Warner material. Titles include "Don't Forget The Bass", "Night Food", "Zen Turtles", "For Max", and "Poly Wanna Rhythm".
Jaco Pastorius was a meteor who blazed on to the scene in the 1970s, only to flame out tragically in the 1980s. With a brilliantly fleet technique and fertile melodic imagination, Pastorius made his fretless electric bass leap out from the depths of the rhythm section into the front line with fluid machine-gun-like passages that demanded attention. He also sported a strutting, dancing, flamboyant performing style and posed a further triple-threat as a talented composer, arranger and producer. He and Stanley Clarke were the towering influences on their instrument in the 1970s. Collection includes 'Broadway Blues' & 'Teresa', 'Heavy'n Jazz' & 'Stuttgart Aria', 'Live In Italy' & 'Honestly'.
Holiday for Pans (steel pans, that is) is Jaco's intended follow-up to his 1981 Word of Mouth release. However, when he presented the demo to Warner Bros. in 1983, they rejected it on the grounds that it was too esoteric and lacked commercial appeal. Recorded between 1980 and 1982, the project is basically a vehicle for steel pans master, Othello Molineaux, Jaco's longtime friend and colleague. Jaco actually takes a backseat on most of the recordings, at least audibly. The material features eight tracks, including three Pastorius originals: "Good Morning Anya," an upbeat, sprightly tune dominated by Wayne Shorter's breezy, atmospheric sax and, of course, steel pans; the CD's highlight, "City of Angels," a full-blown, jazz fusion excursion with excellent piano riffing courtesy of Mike Gerber, harmonica by Toots Thielemans and a peppering of acoustic guitar and violin; and "Birth of Island," a 23-minute session of "free play" which begins with Jaco shouting, "just play," but doesn't really show its teeth until the last 7-8 minutes.
The track that showcases the classic Jaco chops of old is the 1986 recording of Mike Stern's "Mood Swings". Recorded just two months prior to Jaco checking himself into the Bellevue psychiatric ward, this is the most masterfull bass playing that I have ever heard Jaco record since Word Of Mouth. Jaco just absolutely tears this cut up. Obviously Jaco was on top of his game the day this recording was made. Jaco is all over the instument playing double-stops and litterally playing rhythm guitar licks over Mike Stern's opening statement.
Thankfully, there is finally a definitive Jaco Pastorius anthology that offers an accurate portrait of the breadth and depth of his innovative artistry beyond what his contributions to Weather Report and his own Word of Mouth and Trio of Doom (which many would argue are sufficient in and of themselves) would suggest. This two-CD, 28-track collection ranges across the fretless bass inventor's earliest recordings, documented by a live appearance with Wayne Cochran's C.C. Riders and home playing the Cochran standard "Amelia," to his work with underground R&B act Little Beaver and such artists as Pat Metheny, Mike Stern, Joni Mitchell in and out of the studio, Paul Bley, Airto and Flora Purim, Michel Columbier, Brian Melvin, and his diverse projects.
There's an avalanche of dazzling playing on this generous, superbly selected compilation; it gives a brilliant, comprehensive testament to a legendary musician.
A first-time release comprising over two hours of extraordinary, groundbreaking high fidelity music, this live album from electric bass genius Jaco Pastorius and the Word of Mouth Big Band, featuring guest harmonica virtuoso Toots Thielemans, was recorded at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City in June 1982 and is presented from beginning to end exactly as it happened.