Jaco: The Essential & Trio of Doom


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Jaco Pastorius
The Essential

Trio of Doom
Trio of Doom

Released in September to mark the 20th anniversary of Jaco Pastorius' passing and reminding us that he would have turned a still-young 56 years old this month, The Essential Jaco Pastorius provides an overview of the legendary bassist's all-too-short recording career (1974-1986). This two-CD set is a great introduction for the uninitiated and a welcome addition to the collections of Jaco fans everywhere.

Beginning with the groundbreaking "Donna Lee from Pastorius' debut album, the collection really brings home Pastorius' incredible significance. As Jaco biographer Bill Milkowski states in the liner notes, "There was bass before Jaco and bass after Jaco. While the man has had many imitators, there is only one original.

In addition to "Donna Lee , there is the seminal solo bass composition "Portrait of Tracy (featuring his warm tone and inventive use of harmonics) as well as the the title track from Pat Metheny's Bright Size Life. The remainder of Disc 1 focuses on his work with Weather Report and Joni Mitchell. And, while his playing could sometimes be described as busy, he always displayed a deep, deep groove.

Disc 2 includes collaborations with Herbie Hancock, Michel Colombier and more Mitchell. Listeners are also treated to several live tracks, including favorites "Teen Town and "The Chicken . The disc closes with a trio of tracks from Jaco's Word of Mouth recording, including the poignant "John and Mary , an ode to Pastorius' two older children.

Besides his obvious innovations as a bassist, The Essential Jaco Pastorius also highlights his prodigious skills as a composer. Compositions such as "(Used to be a) Cha Cha , "Barbary Coast and "Punk Jazz , among others, show a melodic and harmonic maturity that belies Pastorius' youth at the time of writing these tunes.

Of course, Pastorius played with some amazing musicians during his lifetime and their contributions to this collection are not to be understated. Hancock, Tony Williams, Toots Thielemans, the Brecker Brothers and Larry Carlton are just a few of the luminaries who make appearances.

The late Tony Williams also played with Pastorius on another recently released recording, the appropriately titled Trio of Doom. Williams, Pastorius and guitarist John McLaughlin came together in the spring of 1973 for a concert in Cuba officially titled Havana Jam, but known informally amongst the performers as the "Bay of Gigs . The CD contains the previously unreleased-in-completion live set as well as a subsequent New York recording session.

While all three legendary musicians are in top form throughout, the live tracks are the ones that really cook. The CD opens with a drum improvisation that segues nicely into "Dark Prince , a McLaughlin composition that bristles with kinetic energy. The track highlights the talent of Williams, who plays drums with a simultaneous mixture of finely-honed technique and wild abandon.

McLaughlin adds some beautiful guitar work to Pastorius' "Continuum , while the bassist takes a mind-bending solo in the middle of Williams' "Para Oriente . The final live track, McLaughlin's "Are You The One, Are You The One? , is a tour de force.

The remainder of the tracks are studio versions of "Dark Prince , "Continuum , and "Para Oriente and while it is interesting to compare the different performances, they don't match the energy and electricity of the Havana recording.

Tracks and Personnel

The Essential

Tracks: Donna Lee (Album Version); Come On, Come Over (Album Version); Continuum (Album Version); Kuru (Album Version); Portrait Of Tracy (Album Version); Opus Pocus (Album Version); (Used To Be A) Cha-Cha (Album Version); Bright Size Life (Album Version); Barbary Coast (Album Version); Hejira (Album Version); Talk To Me (Album Version); Birdland (Album Version); A Remark You Made (Album Version); Teen Town (Album Version); Havona (Album Version); River People (Live); Punk Jazz (Album Version); Dry Cleaner From Des Moines (Album Version); Dreamland (Album Version); 4 A.M. (Album Version); Teen Town (Live); Slang (Bass Solo) (Live); Port Of Entry (Live); Soul Intro/The Chicken (Album Version); Three Views Of A Secret (Album Version); Liberty City (Album Version); John And Mary (Album Version).

Personnel: Jaco Pastorius: bass with many others

Trio of Doom

Tracks: Drum Improvisation (Live); Dark Prince (Live); Continuum (Live); Para Oriente (Live); Are You the One, Are You the One? (Live); Dark Prince (Studio); Continuum (Studio); Para Oriente (Alternate Take One/Studio); Para Oriente (Alternate Take Two/Studio); Para Oriente (Studio).

Personnel: John McLaughlin: electric guitar; Jaco Pastorius: electric bass; Tony Williams: drums.


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