Album Reviews

Jaco Pastorius and Various Artists

Jaco: Original Soundtrack

Artist:     Jaco Pastorius and Various Artists

Album:     Jaco: Original Soundtrack

Label:     Columbia/ Legacy

Release Date:     11/27/15


The short life of bassist Jaco Pastorius remains one of music’s more tragic tales, even more so because the recordings he left behind reflect a young man at the peak of his prowess. A brilliant musician, both on his own and in the service of others — Weather Report, Pat Metheny, Joni Mitchell among them — Pastorius had an indelible influence on a generations of bassists that followed, even though the war he raged with his inner demons brought his all too early demise.

Inducted into the prestigious Down Beat Jazz Hall of fame in 1988 — the only electric bassist to be so honored — Pastorius is still remembered as one of the greatest masters of his instrument. He viewed the bass not as strictly a rhythmic tool, but rather as a melodic instrument that could add color and texture to any musical soundscape. That promise was prematurely disrupted as his life went rapidly downhill, the result of drug and alcohol use exacerbated his bipolar disorder. On September 11, 1987, he attempted to sneak onstage at a South Florida Santana concert, and after being ejected, made his way to a local club where he reportedly kicked in a glass door after being denied entrance. He then got into a violent scuffle with the club’s bouncer. Admitted to a local hospital with multiple facial fractures, he fell into a coma and suffered a massive brain hemorhage a few days later. When he died on September 21, he was only 35 years old. Yet he left a lingering legacy as one of the greatest electric bassists of all time.

Jaco, a new documentary about his abbreviated but iconic career, briefly highlights some of his many musical milestones, and as a result, this original soundtrack provides a sampler of sorts that also serves as an adequate introduction. It includes both solo selections and examples of the collaborations he undertook with the aforementioned artists. In addition, it boasts a few key covers of Jaco’s work as performed by others — his daughter Mary, Rodrigo Y Gabriela and TechNine among them. Anyone curious about the prime role he played in the fusion of rock and jazz need not look any further.

-Lee Zimmerman


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  1. […] Jaco Pastorius’ story is one of the more tragic tales in recent memory, beginning with a career that seemed to have unlimited possibilities but was cut short due to his inner demons, dalliance with drugs and ultimately his untimely death caused by a violent confrontation outside a South Florida nightclub. Universally praised as possibly the most innovative electric bass player of all time — on a par with Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis as far as their instrumental abilities were concerned — Pastorius could have risen to the same strata in terms of renown and respect, had fate not plotted otherwise. […]