Tribute albums are a tricky vehicle of expression. Their success depends on the tributary's artistic vision, the quality of the performances, and the value-added content. The Word Is Out, a tribute to the late Jaco Pastorius, is a sequel to the warmly received Word Of Mouth Revisited (Heads Up, 2003), a brilliant record which got support from the jazz community. While Word Is Out somewhat lacks its predecessor's freshness, it does have a few perks.
Directed by Peter Graves, the Jaco Pastorius Big Band is an akin group of connoisseurs who befriended and played with the late virtuoso. The thirteen-piece orchestra is joined here by several guest soloists, including Bob Mintzer, Mike Stern, Peter Erskine, Toots Thielemans, Arturo Sandoval and Randy Brecker, among others. Roughly the same cast of bassists who played on the 2003 release also appear: Gerald Veasley, Victor Wooten, Richard Bona, Jimmy Haslip and Jeff Carswell, plus a few new additions.
The high-octane opener, "Dania," is a traditional swing chart by saxophonist Mintzer that features him, as well as Brecker and Veasley. "Las Olas," another Pastorius-penned tune, arranged here by guitarist Randy Bernsen, features Thielemans' refreshing, lyrical and laid-back phrasing. Larry Warrilow's arrangement of "Beaver Patrol," a 16th-note feel funk selection with alternating sections in 11/8 and 4/4, is solid, as is its execution. Wooten's driving fretwork (so to speakhe, like Pastorius, plays a fretless bass) gives listeners a sample of his talent. He embodies Pastorius' musical essence and spirit with verve.
The flamboyant and chops-a-plenty Bona anchors the reggae-like "Good Morning Anya," originally composed for a never-released all-steel drums album. This arranged version incorporates them organically with voice, piccolo and bass clarinet. "Reza," like "Wiggle Waggle," from Revisited, is built around a pre-recorded Pastorius bass track.
Track Listing: Dania; Las Olas; Sirabhorn; Beaver Patrol; Cannonball; Kuru / Speak Like a Child; Three Views
of a Secret; Blackbird/Word of Mouth; Good Morning Anya; River People; Reza.
Personnel: Peter Graves: conductor; Billy Ross: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, piccolo; Ed Calle: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, clarinet; Gary Keller: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, flute, clarinet; Mike Brignola: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, flute; Jim Hacker, Jason Carder, Ken Faulk: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dana Teboe: trombone; John Kricker: bass trombone; Mike Levine: piano, synthesizers; Randy Bernsen: guitar; Jeff Carswell: bass; Mark Griffith: drums. Guests: Michelle Amato, Dana Paul: vocals; Bob Mintzer: tenor saxophone; Arturo Sandoval, Randy Brecker: trumpet; Toots Thielemans: harmonica; Mike Stern, Hiram Bullock: guitar; Robert Thomas, Jr.: hand drums; Othello Molineaux: steel drums; Peter Erskine: drums; Victor Wooten, Richard Bona, Jimmy Haslip, Mark Egan, Oteil Burbridge, Israel
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