Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Jaco Pastorius Big Band - 1982 [2013] "Twins II"

Originally taped for a Japanese television broadcast, and not intended for sale, the Twins Tour bootleg video features great camera work and editing. The performances are uniformly solid, but in a big-band setting, only a handful of musicians get to step up for solos. These solos, though, are superior. The featured Word of Mouth players in this 40-minute videotape include Othello Molineaux (steel pans), Bob Mintzer (reeds), Randy Brecker (trumpet), Toots Thielemans (harmonica), and David Bargeron (tuba). Molineaux is a standout, soloing often throughout the concert. Jaco takes center stage on a truncated rendition of "Continuum" and performs a beautiful, languid duet with Thielemans on "Sophisticated Lady." All five compositions on this videotape are included on the recently released Twins Tour double CD and its single-disc companion, Invitation.

Until Birthday Concert came along, this was the only decent live recording of the big band that Jaco assembled for a world tour in 1982, after taking a permanent break from Weather Report. The only big name big band formed in the 1980s, its inclusion of non-traditional instruments shows the influence of Gil Evans' bands (and the exclusion of piano and guitar is really refreshing). This recording nearly masks the fact that Jaco was sinking deeply into manic depression, and losing some of his edge. Still, you get to hear a rare and excellent performance of Elegant People (not available on the truncated American release Invitation), and an interesting bass solo in the monumental Reza. Also included are live versions of Liberty City, Three Views, Okonkole, and Continuum, all notable for their arrangement and presentation by a very fine band. But Twins, named for his recently born twin boys, is so much banging and clanging. Entirely too much time is given to Toots Theilemans (assuming a harmonica is warranted for such a band, Jaco would have been better served by a gutbucket soul man). The recording suffers a bit from the polite Japanese audience, dutifully applauding, where any other audience would have screamed approval. The band collapsed after this tour, weighed down by expense and Jaco's mounting emotional difficulties. If you collect recordings by Jaco, this would be a good one to buy, after Jaco Pastorius and Word of Mouth.

I almost rated this recording a 4 because of the 20+ year old recording technology. But then I listened more seriously and was truly taken back with the fun roller coaster ride that Jaco and his 20 piece band took me on. With players like Don Alias on Percussion, Randy Brecker on Trumpet, Peter Erskine playing smoking drums and too many other heavyweights to mention I was taken to a really good place. From Jaco's incredible playing to Erskine, Brecker, french horns, tuba etc. this album goes where very few go even today. All I can say is buy it and hold on to your seat!

I have Jaco's studio recordings and I like them a lot, but these live renditions reveal an even greater depth to Jaco's abilities as a writer and arranger of big band music. It's difficult to believe he was on the verge of complete breakdown when this music was being made.

Jaco's Genius for Modern Big Band is on full display in this now classic early 80s recording. Interesting that it has been repackaged as the Jaco Pastorius Big Band when in fact it was called the Word of Mouth Big Band (or Orchestra). A true all-star affair that Jaco was rightfully proud of. Big Band funk? "You got it." Among his many contributions to contemporary music and jazz, his big band arrangements are fresh and glowing with vitality. One can only wonder how far and how high he might have climbed as he breathed new life into a form that had not seen much movement in decades. ANYONE who loves Jaco, or is a big band fan (on the modern tip) will be thrilled by these performances. Only one other authorized recording showcases this particular side of his genius: The Birthday Concert on WB records. Fortunately for all of us, that unforgettable evening (Jaco threw a birthday concert for himself in Ft. Lauderdale and brought the entire Word of Mouth Big Band in for the occasion) was recorded and finally released.

Bassist Jaco Pastorius formed this big band for a 1982 world tour, which had some magical performances and incredible frustrations away from the stage.

The band ultimately imploded due to the deteriorating health of Pastorius - who threw his bass into Hiroshima Bay, along with exhibiting other signs of self-destructive behavior. But these 13 selections released in Japan in 1983 - and in a condensed U.S. version, entitled, Invitation - highlights the triumph before the curtain abruptly fell on Jaco's remarkable career.

The textured layers of instruments - the Word of Mouth Big Band lineup of Don Alias (per), Randy Brecker (tr), Peter Erskine (d), Bobby Mintzer (sax), Othello Molineaux (steel dr), Toots Thielemans (har), along with 14 guest musicians appearing in the two September shows - compliments Jaco's tenacious leadership through his rapid, melodic bass runs.

Liberty City is a gem, with other top-flight cuts in the mix; Three Views of a Secret, Reza/Giant Steps/Reza and Pac-Man Blues (Fannie Mae). The music is even more electrifying and fresh some 25-plus years later through the digitally-remastering, which utilizes 24-bit technology. This is truly a gem that deserves to finally be heard in its entirety.

Track listing:

1    Amerika 1:10
2    Okonkole’ Y Trompa 7:00
3    Reza / Giant Steps / Reza 14:39
4    Elegant People 12:40
5    Twins 6:03
6    Pac-Man Blues (Fannie Mae) 3:00
7    Eleven 0:27


    Jaco Pastorius: Electric Bass
    Don Alias: Percussion
    Randy Brecker: Trumpet
    Peter Erskine: Drums, Timpani
    Bobby Mintzer: Tenor & Soprano Saxophone, Bass Clarinet
    Othello Molineaux: Steel Drums
    Toots Thielemans: Harmonica
    Jon Faddis: Lead Trumpet
    Elmer Brown: Trumpet
    Forrest Buchtel: Trumpet
    Ron Tooley: Trumpet
    Wayne Andre: Lead Trombone
    David Bargeron: Trombone, Tuba
    Peter Graves: Bass Trombone, Co-Conductor
    Bill Reichenbach: Bass Trombone
    Mario Cruz: Tenor & Soprano Saxophone, Clarinet, Alto Flute
    Randy Emerick: Baritone Sax, Clarinet, Alto Flute
    Alex Foster: Tenor, Alto & Soprano Saxophone, Clarinet, Piccolo
    Paul McCandliss: Tenor Sax, Oboe, English Horn
    Peter Gordon: French Horn
    Brad Warnaar: French Horn