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Jaco Pastorius - Jaco Pastorius CD (album) cover


Jaco Pastorius


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.66 | 70 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars I think like most people, the music of Jaco Pastorius came into my life by way of legend and hyperbole. Long before ever hearing his work I knew of him as one of the Olympian Gods of the bass guitar. Not being a bass player or a music historian, I can only offer conjecture on either point. But as a guy who listens to a not inconsiderable amount of music and knows what he likes, I have to say his skill and virtuosity are in fact indisputable.

I am a rocker by upbringing and a Rush fan to boot. Which means, my expectation is usually that bass guitar will come one of two ways: lost in the back of the mix, or heavy enough to rattle a few teeth out of your skull. As those of you already familiar with Jaco can guess, when I finally received my proper introduction to Mr. Pastorius his style and ability fell well outside my frame of reference. His sound is delicate and very clean. His technical abilities are impressive to say the least. Especially here on his eponymous album he strikes me as a very serious musician. So far removed from the out of control caricature he would be reduced to when substance abuse and mental illness eventually overwhelmed him. It is easy to see why his talents were in demand as both a producer and session man throughout his unjustly short career.

Musically, this album airs much more on the jazz side of the fusion spectrum. At times this album can be pretty rocking and never more so than the second track Come On, Come Over featuring soul stalwarts Sam & Dave. For the most part however, Jaco Pastorius, the album, is quite reserved; at least from the perspective of wanting to turn the volume all the way up to eleven. Donna Lee, Portrait of Tracy, Continuum, Forgotten Love and Okonkole y Trompa are all quite understated. That isn't to say they are dull though. Jaco, the man, is usually front centre really exploring what his now legendary fretless 'bass of doom' is capable of. For me the most exciting tracks are the bebop influenced collaboration with Herbie Hancock on 'Kuru/Speak like a Child' and the equally vivacious, but not as focused jam session 'Cha-Cha.'

In short, this is a great album. If you are a bass player and you've somehow kept your head in the sand on the subject of Jaco Pastorius, it is in your best interests to correct the omission. This album will also appeal to people like me who are taking their first tentative steps into the wide world of jazz. Finally, for fans of truly progressive music there will be plenty to take away: sublime bass playing, a variety of musical styles and an assembly of music which rarely if ever treads through its own footsteps. It isn't an essential album, but it is a reliably well above average one. Jaco Pastorius the album is an excellent addition to any progressive music collection. Four stars of a possible five.

R-A-N-M-A | 4/5 |


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