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Jaco Pastorius: Jaco: Original Soundtrack

John Kelman By

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With so many compilations already out there, it might be easy to question why a soundtrack to JACO is even necessary. But one look at the track listing renders its raison d'être clear: JACO: Original Soundtrack is, in some ways, the most comprehensive document of the bassist's career, even if it doesn't contain as much music as previous double-disc sets. Yes, there is plenty of time given to his leader debut, Jaco Pastorius (Epic, 1976), with everything from the soul/funk of "Come On, Come Over" and the ethereal "Continuum" to the hauntingly beautiful "Portrait of Tracy" and the atmospheric, harmonic-driven feature for French horn and percussion, "Okonkole yTrompa."

But there's also space for a couple of tracks from his second album (and 1981 Warner Bros. debut), Word of Mouth, including the staggeringly chaotic album- opener, "Crisis," and more bouyant and accessible big band chart, "Liberty City"—which, in addition to jazz giant Herbie Hancock, also features Pastorius' longtime friends from his Florida days, steel pan player Othello Molineaux and percussionist Don Alias.

Pastorius' tenure in Weather Report, too, is briefly represented with every aspiring bassist's rite of passage, "Teen Town," from the group's 1977 mega hit, Heavy Weather (Columbia) and equally impressive "River People," from 1978's Mr. Gone (Columbia), which combines Pastorius' relentless sixteenth-note anchor and keyboardist Joe Zawinul's broad orchestrations with a disco-fied beat that boosters the bassist's comment, in the film, that "everything's hip." Also included is "Barbary Coast," one of two tracks (and the only one written by Pastorius) that the bassist contributed to the transitional Black Market (Columbia, 1976), a brief piece of greasy funk that was a harbinger of even better things to come as Pastorius took over the bass chair from Alphonso Johnson.

JACO: Original Soundtrack also includes a couple of his many guest appearances, including Joni Mitchell's setting of Charles Mingus' "The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines" to words, first found on her collaborative album with the great double bassist, Mingus (Elektra/Asylum, 1979), but heard here as the incendiary live version from Shadows and Light the following year, where saxophonist Michael Brecker takes a lengthy closing solo that Pastorius and Alias (this time on drum kit) push into the stratosphere and beyond. Less often included on jazz-centric Pastorius compilations is his contribution to ex-Mott the Hoople singer Ian Hunter's second solo album, All American Alien Boy, with the title track included here, complete with a bass solo that demonstrates Pastorius' ability to fit into any context.

But what really makes the JACO: Original Soundtrack special are the five tracks that close the 74-minute set. Daughter Mary Pastorius' "Longing" is a dark, dreamy ballad where the singer is supported solely by bassist Chuck Doom and, from her father's Weather Report days, percussionist/drummer Robert Thomas, Jr. "1987" is performed by a group named with nothing but three symbols —with Chuck Doom on bass and keyboards, guitarist Shaun Lopez and vocalist Chino Moreno creating a similarly dreamy but increasingly dramatic response to the year of Pastorius' death. "Shine" takes the bass line from Jaco Pastorius' "Kuru," played by the bassist's nephew David Pastorius, but covers a lot of territory in its brief three minutes, with rap from TechN9ne (speaking in time with "Kuru"'s relentlessly fast bass line) and singing from keyboardist Soko, building into an urban-centric, song-based homage. Acoustic guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela performs a more rhythmically propulsive version of Jaco Pastorius floating "Continuum," also turning it into a fine solo vehicle for both guitarists.

Finally, the group dubbed Mass Mental—which features bassists including the film's co-producer from Metallica, Robert Trujillo, alongside one-time Zawinul Syndicate bassist Armand Sabal-Lecco and Red Hot Chilli Peppers' irrepressible Flea—closes the recording by bringing it full circle with a more contemporary rendition of JACO: Original Soundtrack's opening track: Jaco Pastorius' Sam & Dave feature, "Come On, Come Over." Here, however, Mass Mental blends sung vocals with rap, and horns and keys combined with a dense mix from all three bassist that demonstrates the continued breadth and depth of Jaco Pastorius' reach and influence.

As much a starting point for those unfamiliar with Jaco Pastorius' work as it is a heartfelt tribute by family, friends and those who may never have met the bassist but were touched by his work, JACO: Original Soundtrack is a rare soundtrack album that honors its subject by demonstrating not just the subject's own work but showing how the father of "Punk Jazz" affected so many others in such a wide variety of genres. As much as the film succeeded in telling a story, this soundtrack is pure evidence of an artist whose influence continues to be felt nearly three decades after his passing.

Track Listing: Come On, Come Over; Continuum; River People; Teen Town; Portrait of Tracy; The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines; All American Alien Boy; Liberty City; Okonkole Y Trompa; Barbary Coast; Crisis; Longing; Nineteen Eighty Seven; Shine; Come On Come Over.

Personnel: Jaco Pastorius: bass (1-11), drums (3-4), voice (3, 11),timpani (3), Prophet 5 Synthesizer (8), cymbals (8), keyboards (11), synthesizer (11); Randy Brecker: trumpet (1); Ron Tooley: trumpet (1); David Samborn: alto saxophone (1); Michael Brecker: tenor saxophone (1, 8, 11); Howard Johnson: baritone saxophone (1, 8); Herbie Hancock: keyboards (1), Fender Rhodes (2), piano (8); Don Alias: congas (1, 9), bells (2), drums (6), percussion (8), Okonkolo y lya (9),Afu he (9); Narada Michael Walden: drums (1); Sam Moore: vocals (1); Dave Prater: vocals (1); Lenny White: drums (2) Wayne Shorter: soprano saxophone (3-4, 8, 10), tenor saxophone (10, 11), Lyricon (10); Manolo Badrena: congas (3-4); Joe Zawinul: keyboards (3, 10), ARP (3), Prophet (3) Fender Rhodes (4, 10), ARP 2600 (4, 10), melodica (4), Oberheim Polyphonic Synthesizer (4, 10), grand piano (10); Joni Mitchell: voice (6); Pat Metheny: guitar (6); Lyle Mays: keyboards (6); Ian Hunter: rhythm guitar (7), piano (7), vocals (7); Ann Sutton: background vocals (7); Gail Kantor: background vocals (7); Erin Dickens: background vocals (7); Cornell Dupree: guitar (7); Aynsley Dunbar: drums (7); Chris Stainton: organ (7), keyboards (7); Toots Thielemans: harmonica (8, 11); Othello Molineaux: steel pans (8); Paul Hornmueller: steel pans (8); Leroy Williams: steel pans (8); Jack DeJohnette: drums (8, 11); Robert Thomas, Jr.: percussion (8), hand drums (12), drum kit (12); Chuck Findley: trumpet (8); Bobby Findley: trumpet (8); Snooky Young: trumpet (8); Dave Bargeron: trombone (8); Jim Pugh: trombone (8); David Taylor: bass trombone (8); John Clark: French horn (8); Peter Gordon: French horn (8, 9); Hubert Lass: piccolo (8, 11), flute (8); George Young: alto saxophone (8); Alphonso Johnson: electric bass (10); Chester Thompson: drums (10), percussion (10); Alex Acuña: congas (10), percussion (10); Mary Pastorius: vox (12); Chuck Doom: bass (12,13), keyboards (13); God: rain (12), thunder (12); Chino Moreno: voice (13); Shaun Lopez: guitars (13); TechN9ne: vocals (14); Soko: vocals (14), keyboards (14); David Pastorius: bass (14); Rodrigo y Gabriela: acoustic guitars (15); C-Minus: keyboards (16), horns (16); Stephen Perkins: drums (16); Whit Crane: vocals (16); Benji Webbe: vocals (16); Robert Trujillo: Main Chango bass (16); Armand Sabal-Lecco: Tenor Juju bass (16); Flea: bass stabs (16), bass solo (16).

Title: Jaco: Original Soundtrack | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Legacy Recordings


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