As a neophyte to Jaco Pastorius' music, I did not know what to expect from Gospel for JFP III
. I didn't know if I would feel right reviewing the disc having nothing to compare it to. However, after giving the album a spin, I realized this would be easy. First of all, this is great jazz, and that in and of itself bears mentioning. Second of all, this is such a good tribute record because, while bass isn't even present on a few tracks, the music is arranged is such a way as to make it easy to envision exactly what Pastorius' part would have been. The album is eclectic, covering everything from funk to fusion to bop. And yet it weaves seamlessly between styles, representative of one man's body of work.
"Three Views of a Secret commences the proceedings with a spiritual introduction by the Contrafarsa chorus. Then Bireli Lagrene and Hiram Bullock enter on acoustic and electric guitar, respectively, and proceed to make you feel like you are listening to an entire quartet. Lagrene's strumming gives the feel of both bass and drums, and his beautiful statement of the melody and subsequent solo conveys the true beauty of the tune. A great composition.
Next comes the soft, meandering "Las Olas, performed by Michael Gerber on piano, Toninho Horta on guitars and voice, Kenny Davis on bass, Danny Gottlieb on drums, and Armando Marcal on percussion. Of all the great players on this album, Gerber is the most pervasive, and throughout he conveys a complete knowledge of the music. This piece is no exception, as his quiet fills add decoration to Horta's voice and his solo simply floats over the rhythm.
"Havona is eerily similar to some of Chick Corea's best fusion work with his Elektric Band, specifically Eye of the Beholder
. Othello Molineaux's steel pans have a unique sound, and his virtuosic solo is followed by Abel Pabon's lightning quick piano work. Pete Sebastian's bass holds down the groove until it's his turn to shine, and he performs admirably. The tune is given a Weather Report-type treatment, ending in a flourish.
Michael Gerber is joined by Gil Goldstein, Romero Lubambo, Mike Stern, and Armando Marcal for Pastorius' elegiac "Continuum. Here again there is no bass, but the listener can feel where Pastorius would have played. Stern's guitar moans, but Goldstein's keyboard creates a triumphant heir that the band plays off of, and the melody is interspersed at perfect intervals. This tune shows the simplistic, vulnerable side of Pastorius.
And the rest of the album continues along the same vein. Each tune is completely different from its predecessor, and the musicians do an admirable job of invoking their respective styles while simultaneously paying tribute to their friend and band mate. More than anything, Pastorius' spirit and eclecticism are present on this album, which luckily serves as a potent introduction to his music for this reviewer.