Jaco Pastorius

Portrait of Jaco: The Early Years, 1968-1978

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Simply put, there is nothing remotely like Portrait of Jaco on the market. This two-CD package is an aural biography, told by Pastorius himself, his father, and the people he came up with and played with throughout his life. It is an obsessive document, created specifically for the collector and fanatic. But it is no mere attempt to pick up some quick cash. Prepared by Bob Bobbing, in full cooperation with the Pastorius family, this is one of the most emotionally moving and aesthetically revealing documents of its kind. It feels honest, errs on the side of too much information, rather than not enough, and unabashedly celebrates the development of a genius in the making. There are two discs and 38 selections. Disc One (entitled "Jocko" -- the original spelling of his name) is an expressionistic aural portrait, with musical selections interspersed with personal reminiscences from his father, Tracy Lee (who has broken her silence on her relationship with the bassist for the first time), his employers, and collaborators, from Ira Sullivan to Tommy Sands to Wayne Cochran. Recordings by Pastorius' first band, Woodchuck, are here, an early bass solo in its entirety, and more. The musical tracks are partial, but the effect -- if you are obsessed with Pastorius enough to be interested in a document like this in the first place -- is riveting. The early recordings of Cochran's C.C. Riders, and with Sullivan, are indeed revelatory of his rapidly developing compositional method and his arpeggiated attack. Disc Two is, in a sense, more of the same, but also the professional musician displaying a prowess that surprises, obviously, even Pastorius himself. The recordings of the Peter Graves Orchestra Pastorius' first compositions reveal a startling view of complex harmony, and the redefined role of the bass in a large ensemble from hard bop to big band ("Domino") to knife-edge funk ("Wiggle Waggle.") In addition, there are his recordings with the steel drum ensemble Othello and Sir Cedric, and early demos from his Criteria recordings, and his audition recordings for Weather Report. Other interview segments include Joe Zawinul, Pat Metheny, Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock, and of course, Jaco himself. In addition to the two CDs, there is a lavishly illustrated and exhaustively annotated 80-page companion booklet to round out an already perfect package. Words, music, and a fanatical, loving attention to detail; this is an event in tribute recordings.

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