Paul Bley's Improvising Artists Label. It is notable for being the first professional recording showcasing the talents of Jaco Pastorius and Pat Metheny. The two had gotten to know each other in Miami the year before. Their collaboration continued on Metheny's debut Bright Size Life together with Bob Moses, recorded in December 1975. The record was released the following year by ECM - also home to Bley since his Open, To Love from 1972.
Although one often thinks of Jaco Pastorius' first solo album as being 1976's Jaco on Epic, producer/keyboardist Paul Bley actually gave Pastorius his first chance to lead a recording two years earlier. Coincidentally titled Jaco, this spontaneous set (which has been reissued on CD) is also significant for being among guitarist Pat Metheny's first recordings; completing the quartet are Bley on electric piano and drummer Bruce Ditmas. The music consists of three songs by Bley, five from Carla Bley, and "Blood" by Annette Peacock. Pastorius sounds quite powerful, but Metheny's
tone is kind of bizarre, very distorted, and not at all distinctive at
this point. The recording quality is a bit shaky throughout the
electronic set, and the group does not quite live up to its potential,
but Pastorius shows that he was already an innovative player, making this a CD of historic interest.
Very rare release - in fact first Jaco Pastorius album (with collaborators).
Pat Metheny on guitar, very interesting electric piano sound by Paul Bley. Carla's Bley compositions.
Music is mostly improvs or very complex modern avant and free jazz compositions. Sound is very
atmospheric, so you can easily hear all instrument's lines. Mostly impressive is electric piano -
drums interplays, but bass - soft guitar both are important.
This music is far from any form of fusion, and could attract mostly free jazz lovers. But very
complex and competent musicianship worth listening, even if you're not a big lover of such music.
Important work for Jaco and Pat Metheny fans - you can hear both of them there playing much more
seriously, than you can expect.
For a while I've noted (with some bewilderment) a cache of negativity
posted here with respect to this album. I've been playing it (on LP)
for years and consider it a landmark jazz recording that is little
understood and now virtually forgotten.
This date was essentially
a Paul Bley release--a recording he made "secretly" and released on his
Improvising Artist's label. But whether or not it was Jaco's date is
not all that relevant. What is significant is that here --as elsewhere--
Bley possessed the instincts he showed throughout his career for
appearing at the right time with the right people. Metheny and Pastorius
were on the threshold of changes which would forever alter the
vernacular of their instruments. The electric bass has never been the
same since this album.
Bley, whose career began early in the
1950's on Mingus' Debut label has been one of the most overlooked piano
players in modern times. His history of associations trace his many
influences-- Mingus, Ornette, the much-overlooked reedman Jimmy Giuffre,
and especially ex-wife Carla Bley and the composer Annette Peacock. As
is the case with the writing of Carla and Annette, his mid-60's free
playing was a key inspiration to many in the early phase of "fusion"-- a
word which still meant something serious between 1968 and the
This is the album that charts that association.
is also one of several seminal recordings for anyone interested in
music from those years or anyone who rejects the notion that
improvisational music ended when it "plugged in". The current ideology
of neoclassicism which has lodged itself in some circles of jazz
criticism dismisses most of the music of this period as inconsequential.
This amazes me considering the many avenues in which the music moved
forward. Even the developments of 70's big-band composing and arranging
(Toshiko Akiyoshi, Sun Ra, to name two) have been neglected.
Contrary to what you may have heard from the Ken Burns series, the music continued to grow spectacularly during that decade.
anything, landmark albums like this one have increased in stature for
some of us, and the non-commercial quality of it is an antidote to a
good portion of today's fare--much of which feels like buying a good
pair of retread tires.
Think what you will, there are many of us
out there who consider Jaco Pastorius to be the most influential
musician to emerge since Jimi Hendrix. I would be interested to hear who
else has had this much impact on the general approach to an instrument
in the last 40 years. This album is historic for several reasons, not
the least of which is that it's the earliest example of Pastorius with
fully developed chops. His warm tone and unsurpassed subtlety of
execution are already in place. His playing here is
confident--mature--as much so as anyone in the mid-60's Miles Davis
Needless to say, if you buy this album you need to play
it more than once. That pertains to almost anything Bley ever did.
That's the point of Paul Bley. There's nothing overly cued or "obvious"
about anyone else's playing here either--Bruce Ditmas, Metheny and
especially Jaco--all weave beautifully subtle lines to the spell of
Bley's complex approach to harmony. The album flows uncannily. The
players respond to each other in interesting ways. Some have called the
playing rambling or aimless on this album...give it another shot. The
second side is seamless- one tune flowing into another and everyone
stretches out. The tunes are mostly Annette Peacock and Carla Bley
compositions--tunes which certainly lent themselves to the energy that
runs through this album like a bloodstream. After all these years it's
still difficult to shut off.
Metheny was very young at the time
of this recording but there are many aspects of his playing which
clearly suggest the multilayered paths he would soon establish for
anyone who loves guitar. He's playing "outside" here - something he
continued to do throughout his career on certain sessions (Song X for
example). The earliness of this Metheny date alone should justify the
cost of this now-hard-to-locate cd. The Carla Bley composition Vashkar
opens side one-- a fusion-totem of sorts, tying it in lineage to the
Tony Williams Lifetime album Emergency several years earlier. But
perhaps even a tad more than Emergency, this album has stood the test of
My only regret is that the group did not include a cover
of Carla's ballad "Ida Lupino", which Pat and Jaco would soon be playing
at club dates in Boston shortly after this recording.
Vashkar (Carla Bley) - 9:55
Poconos (Paul Bley) - 1:00
Donkey (Carla Bley) - 6:28
Vampira (Paul Bley) - 7:15
Overtoned (Carla Bley) - 1:04
Jaco (Paul Bley) - 3:45
Batterie (Carla Bley) - 5:12
King Korn (Carla Bley) - 0:29
Blood (Annette Peacock) - 1:28
Jaco Pastorius - bass guitar
Pat Metheny - guitar
Bruce Ditmas - drums
Paul Bley - electric piano