Jaco: The Extraordinary and Tragic Life of Jaco Pastorius

Craig Jolley By

Sign in to view read count

Bill Milkowski
Backbeat Books
ISBN: 087930426X

Thoroughly researched and fairly balanced Jaco: The Extraordinary and Tragic Life of Jaco Pastorius: 'the World's Greatest Bass Player' stands as a worthy examination of bassist/composer Jaco Pastorius' heartrending life. Author Bill Milkowski personally knew and sympathized with (but did not worship) Jaco, and he benefited from the cooperation of many of Jaco's associates. Milkowski traces Jaco's life and career from talented, likeable young lion through career genocide to a violent death at 35.

Jaco emerges as largely self-taught, his fine tuning accomplished while jamming with local (South Florida) rock/fusion musicians. His ties to the acoustic jazz tradition both as an inheritor of knowledge and as a participant are downplayed. Charlie Brent, strawboss of the C.C. Riders (a touring country-rock band), is portrayed as Jaco's writing mentor.

Jaco's personal problems stem from several factors: inability/unwillingness to maintain ordinary, respectful relationships with others; show biz persona instilled by his father; egocentric compulsion to perpetuate his own mystique/eccentricity; his ability to reason temporarily and permanently impaired by drugs; self-destructive obsession; mental illness. Milkowski suggests drugs as primary although he presents enough evidence for reader interpretation.

Personal life and career take precedence although recording sessions including musical assessment are discussed as they occur, and a couple of brief technical analyses are presented. There is also a thorough discography and an extensive epilogue in which 36 musicians summarize Jaco's career and contributions to music.

Jaco is organized, readable, and well written. The book enjoys acceptance by the various Jaco Pastorius web sites, a notable endorsement.


More Articles

Read "Nothing but Love in God’s Water by Robert Darden" Book Reviews Nothing but Love in God’s Water by Robert Darden
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1965" Book Reviews The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1965
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 11, 2017
Read "The Band Photographs 1968-1969" Book Reviews The Band Photographs 1968-1969
by Doug Collette
Published: March 26, 2016
Read "Bowie: Photographs by Steve Schapiro" Book Reviews Bowie: Photographs by Steve Schapiro
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: April 30, 2016
Read "Charles Lloyd: A Wild, Blatant Truth" Book Reviews Charles Lloyd: A Wild, Blatant Truth
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 25, 2016
Read "Paul Morley: The Age of Bowie" Book Reviews Paul Morley: The Age of Bowie
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 25, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!