One of the saddest stories in 70s/80s Jazz, is the untimely death of Jaco Pastorius at the age of 35. The man could play electric bass like no other. And he made some great recordings with other 70s jazz hounds like Pat Metheny and Paul Bley. I first heard him on Joni Mitchell’s jazz-laced Hejira (1976), where he played on four tracks. But that same year saw the release of this, his first official solo effort. Here, with songs like, “Come On, Come Over”, “Continuum” and “Okonkole Y Trompa” he finally got to show the world he could back up his lofty claim: “I am the greatest bass player in the world.” Upon meeting this cocky cat, Joe Zawinul (the acclaimed jazz keyboardist who played with Miles Davis during Miles’ groundbreaking electric period, and who went on to form Weather Report) thought he was full of shit, and himself. But Joe went home and listened to Jaco’s demo tapes and subsequently recruited him for Weather Report’s next album, Black Market (1976). Jaco would stay with them for five more albums as a full-fledged member of the band, before releasing his second solo album Word of Mouth (1981). His playing was very influential not only in the world of Jazz, but you can trace his sound and style through funk’s evolution and even the alternate-grooves of Primus and Red Hot Chili Peppers. He had an effortlessly smooth style, and his dexterity is really something to behold. Shifting from rhythm-section to lead and back again, he could be at once a blur of notes and then a big bulbous drone throbbing behind the scenes. Even if you’re not a fan of jazz or funk or whatever else you’d call his music, he probably remains an influence on something you’d like, such was the impact of this outrageously talented (and unfortunately tragic) musician/composer.
~ DECOY SPOON