Modern American Music... Period! The Criteria Sessions presents a series of demo recordings that bassist Jaco Pastorius made two years before his landmark debut album, 1976's Jaco Pastorius. Recorded after hours at Miami's Criteria Studios, these tracks represent some of the earliest solo cuts from Pastorius. While a handful of these songs were eventually reworked for his debut, here we get all of these demo sessions in full. Backing Jaco on these recordings is a superb band of some recognizable and some lesser-known names, including drummer Bob Economou (who played on one track on Jaco Pastorius), Fender Rhodes keyboardist Alex Darqui, percussionist Don Alias (who also appeared on Jaco Pastorius), and steel drummers Othello Molineaux and Cederik Lucious. Much like 1974's confusingly titled Jaco (Pastorius' other early-career date with keyboardist Paul Bley and guitarist Pat Metheny), these sessions showcase an expansive, somewhat avant-garde sound that bridges the gaps between post-bop, fusion, and free improvisation. Certainly, we still get Pastorius' bravura solo take on Charlie Parker and Miles Davis' "Donna Lee," but we also get to hear Pastorius lead his band through more liquid, dreamlike compositions including the roiling, steel drum-heavy "Pans" and the rarely heard "Havona/Continuum." There is also a gorgeous early version of the bassist's composition "Forgotten Love," featuring Pastorius alone on electric keyboard, which gives the Herbie Hancock version on the 1976 album a run for its money. Ultimately, although these are demo-quality recordings, they clearly showcase the already genius-level ability that Pastorius had achieved before anyone knew his name.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar