Monday, February 29, 2016

Jaco Pastorius - 1976 [2000] "Jaco Pastorius"

This self-titled album was Jaco Pastorius' solo debut and was originally released in 1976. The album was produced by Blood, Sweat & Tears drummer/founder Bobby Colomby. The disc begins with a cover version of Miles Davis' "Donna Lee" (although the song was originally credited - mistakenly - to Charlie Parker on the album) and includes eight other tracks written or co-written by Pastorius.

It's impossible to hear Jaco Pastorious' debut album today as it sounded when it was first released in 1976. The opening track -- his transcription for fretless electric bass of the bebop standard "Donna Lee" -- was a manifesto of virtuosity; the next track, the funk-soul celebration "Come On, Come Over" was a poke in the eye to jazz snobs and a love letter to the R&B greats of the previous decade (two of whom, Sam & Dave, sing on that track); "Continuum" was a spacey, chorus-drenched look forward to the years he was about to spend playing with Weather Report. The program continues like that for three-quarters of an hour, each track heading off in a different direction -- each one a masterpiece that would have been a proud achievement for any musician. What made Jaco so exceptional was that he was responsible for all of them, and this was his debut album. Beyond his phenomenal bass technique and his surprisingly mature compositional chops (he was 24 when this album was released), there was the breathtaking audacity of his arrangements: "Okonkole Y Trompa" is scored for electric bass, French horn, and percussion, and "Speak Like a Child," which Pastorious composed in collaboration with pianist Herbie Hancock, features a string arrangement by Pastorious that merits serious attention in its own right. For a man with this sort of kaleidoscopic creativity to remain sane was perhaps too much to ask; his gradual descent into madness and eventual tragic death are now a familiar story, one which makes the bright promise of this glorious debut album all the more bittersweet. (This remastered reissue adds two tracks to the original program: alternate takes of "(Used to Be a) Cha Cha" and "6/4 Jam").

In 1976, the first 10 minutes of this eponymous disc took the listener on a jazz world cruise directed by the instrumentalist-composer Jaco Pastorius, who thus gave notice that there was a new sheriff in town and that narrow definitions of jazz would simply not do. More so even than his groundbreaking work as a member of Weather Report, Jaco's music on this, his debut album as a leader (and in a trio setting with his soulmate Pat Metheny on the guitarist's maiden voyage, Bright Size Life), defines his greatness, his outreach, and his ambition. Boppish changes à la Miles Davis come through with Jaco's incredible touch, tone phrasing, and rhythmic locomotion--as does the musical leap of faith from bebop to funky-butt R&B delivered with lyrical majesty on Jaco's aptly titled "Continuum." This reissue greatly enhances the fidelity of Jaco Pastorius, particularly in the bassist's famous, elusive tone, from lightly chorused, vocal-tenorlike glissandos on "Continuum" and the bell-like harmonics of "Portrait of Tracy" to his percussive, hand-drumlike rhythmic cycles underneath Peter Gordon's august French horn on "Oknokole Y Trompa." Even more stunning are the manner in which Jaco deploys a steel drum choir underneath Wayne Shorter on "Opus Pocus" and the ferocious Latin-inflected groove Jaco, Lenny White, and Don Alias conjure under Herbie Hancock on two takes--one unissued until now--of "(Used to Be a) Cha-Cha." Pat Metheny contributes an extraordinary set of liner notes to this set, putting Jaco's contributions to jazz and the bass in sharp perspective. Still, a spirit of innovation and discovery suffuses every note on Jaco Pastorius, and it is startling how modern and engaging this music remains.

At long last, the stunning debut album by Jaco Pastorius gets the royal treatment by the folks at Sony Legacy. Recorded in 1976 prior to joining Weather Report, it's clear from the first bar that this man is serious business!!! From the opening track, a cover of the Charlie Parker classic "Donna Lee"(written by Miles Davis) featuring Jaco only accompanied by a conga player to the final cut "Forgotten Love",it's very apparent that we're hearing something we've never heard before. Pastorius took the bass from being a support instrument, to front and center, without being tedious or overdone. Other highlights of this album include "Portrait of Tracy", and "Continuum". "Jaco Pastorius" features excellent support from the likes of Herbie Hancock, Hubert Laws, David Sanborn, Michael Brecker and Lenny White. This reissue also features two unreleased tracks that were not part of the original LP. The booklet features rare photos from the recording sessions and has great liner notes written by Pat Metheny. The 24-bit remaster is a tremendous sonic improvement over the original CD issue and the disc label even has the original orange Epic logo on the disc. A first class reissue of a fusion jazz classic. 

Jaco Pastorius was undoubtedly a brilliant musician, in every sense of the word. Not only was he an incredible bassist, but he was a gifted composer, who really knew how to get the most out of his instrument. This, his first solo album, is excellent from start to finish. There's plenty of diversity here, and a regular who's who of musicians backing him up. The list includes David Sanborn, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and many more. There are three drummers on here, Bobby Economou, Narada Michael Walden, and Lenny White. All three put on a great performance, but Lenny's is undoubtedly the most impressive.
As I mentioned before, this album is very diverse. There are two bass solo songs (only bass). The first, "Donna Lee", is the opening track, and is a prime example of Jaco's incredible prowess. The second, "Portrait of Tracy", is more laid-back, and shows that in addition to being a technical virtuoso, he had a great sense of melody as well. "Come On, Come Over" has more of a 70's funk feel, and is the only song on the album to feature vocals. "Opus Pocus" is a bit unusual, with odd complex bass work, and some cool steel drums to give it a bit of a tropical feel. "Forgotten Love" doesn't even have Jaco on it, and is perhaps the least interesting track here, but still a nice tranquil piano piece. "6/4 Jam" is a bit repetitive, but Lenny's jaw-dropping performance makes up for it.
The best songs, without a doubt, are "Kuru/Speak Like a Child" and "Used To Be a Cha Cha". Both feature some very fast and infectious basslines, and incredible piano from the great Herbie Hancock. Very technical and diverse songs, with great melody as well. At around 8 minutes each, both go by quite fast.
So there you have it, an excellent album from one of the best bassists of all time. Highly recommended to anyone with even the slightest interest in jazz. I haven't heard quite enough to say this accurately, but this is possibly one of the best albums of the genre. Definitely a must-have.

Track listing

1. Donna lee (2:26)
2. Come on, come over (3:50)
3. Continuum(4:31)
4. Kuru (7:38)
Speak like a child
5. Portrait of tracy (2:20)
6. Ocus pocus (5:25)
7. Okonkole'y trompa (4:21)
8. Used to be a cha-cha (8:52)
9. Forgotten love (2:12)
10 (Used To Be A) Cha Cha (Previously Unreleased)
11 6-4 Jam (Previously Unreleased)

Total Time 41:59


Jaco Pastorius: Bass, horn & string arrangements
Don Alias: Congas, Bongos, Percussion, Okonkolo y Iya, Afuche
Randy Brecker: Trumpet
Ron Tooley: Trumpet
Peter Graves: Bass Trombone
David Sanborn: Alto Sax
Michael Brecker: Tenor Sax
Howard Johnson: Baritone Sax
Herbie Hancock: Keyboards, Piano, Fender Rhodes
Narada Michael Walden: Drums
Sam & Dave: Vocals
Bobby Economou: Drums
Michael Gibbs: Conductor, String Arrangement
Wayne Shorter: Soprano Sax
Othello Molineaux: Steel Drums
Leroy Williams: Steel Drums
Lenny White: Drums
Peter Gordon: French Horn
Strings: Violins: David Nadien (concertmaster), Harry Lookofsky, Paul Gershman, Koe Malin, Harry Cykman, Harold Kohon, Matthew Raimondi, Max Pollikoff, Arnold Black. Violas: Selwart Clarke, Manny Vardi, Julian Barber, Al Brown. Celli: Charles McCracken, Kermit Moore, Beverly Lauridsen, Alan Shulman. Double Basses: Richard Davis, Homer Mensch.



    1. amazing ..
      mantap tenan

  2. Chiquilicuatre y ZappaMarch 12, 2016 at 2:40 AM