Just for Fun but Completely of topic: The Music of Jaco Pastorious
In 1987 the world lost the most prolific electric bass player ever to play the instrument. Jaco changed the way the instrument was played and spawned a whole generation of great Bass players. Jimmy Haslip, Gerald Veasley, Marcus Miller, Richard Bona and Victor Wooten just to name a few.
While Jaco's music is considered seminal work by some, interest has ebbed and flowed over the years. His work with Joni Mitchell, Weather Report and Pat Metheny is true hall of fame material especially his work with Joni Mitchell.
A friend of mine, Jeff, played bass with Blood Sweat and Tears in the 80s and he told me that Jaco WAS the standard but that Jaco's genius was not just in his playing but also in his composing and arranging. This was also said about the great Jazz Double Bassist Charles Mingus. Jaco had an incredible feel for how a song should be arranged and played and he could get the instrument to sing.
In 2003 the members of Jaco's big band, Word of Mouth, got together to re-release some of Jaco's work. Now I have never been a big fan of compilation albums or box sets. If the music is good enough it should stand on its own. Box sets, greatest hits and compilation albums are seen by some, including me, as money grabs by artists who have lost their fortunes or glory and are now attempting to cash in on past fame. The Who did this in 89' with Tommy and critics panned it as the "We Won't Go Broke Again" tour. Couple that with the 14 back-up singers, percussionists and horn section to replace the great Keith Moon and you have commercialism at its finest. But I digress.
So in 2003 Jaco's big band released "Word of Mouth Revisited". A collection of some of Jaco's finest work with a twist, each song had a different guest bass player. This is a neat concept, each bass player keeps to Jaco's arrangement but their individual style is peppered throughout the song.
Jimmy Haslip of the Yellowjackets opens up with a stunning rendition of "Havona", Richard Bona improvs on "Punk Jazz", Gerald Veasley's rendition of "Elegant People" really swings but the best is Victor Wooten who hammers out "Teen Town". Even Jaco's nephew David gets in to the act on "Opus Pocus".
All in all this is a refreshing look at Jaco's music as seen through the eyes of his loyal followers. When the band went on tour in 2004, I was lucky to see Victor Wooten in the guest bass players seat at the Iridium Jazz Club in NYC. He is truly a master of his domain.
Jaco's family has preserved his musical legacy in such a way as to not sully it with commercialism. Of course they will make some money off the deal, as is their right, but they have done it in such a way that it preserves the legacy of perhaps the greatest Jazz Electric Bass player the world has ever known.
More to come... Up next, The Word is Out.