jaco pastorius may well have been the last jazz musician of the 20th century to have made a major impact on the musical world at large. everywhere you go,sometimes it seems like a dozen times a day, in the most unlikely places you hear jaco's sound; from the latest tv commercial to bass players of all stripes copping his licks on recordings of all styles, from newsbroadcasts to famous rock and roll bands, from hip hop samples to personal tribute records, you hear the echoes of that unmistakable sound everywhere. (it may even be more imitated at this point than the previously most pervasive jazz sound to escape into the broader culture beyond the local borders of jazz, the moody harmon mute stylings of miles davis). for all the caterwauling that has gone onabout new musicians that have shown up in recent years being toted as the "next miles", or the "duke ellington of their generation", or whatever, jaco outranks all of them and all of that by being the one and the only of his kind, without predecessor; the only post 1970 jazz musician known on a first name basis with all music fans of all varieties everywhere in the world. from the depths of africawhere he is revered in almost god-like status to the halls of most every music university on the planet. to this day, and maybe more than ever, he remains the one and the only JACO.
and how odd it is to see this era of historical revisionism in jazz how this accomplishment is often relegated by people who should know better as being "not jazz" or as "fusion" (possibly the single most ignorantand damaging term ever invented to describe (discount) an important and vital branch of the jazz music tree). jaco at his best, as on this record, defines what the word jazz really means. jaco used his own experiences filtered through an almost unbelievable originality informed by a musicianship as audacious as it was expansive, to manifest into sound through improvisation a musical reality thatilluminated his individuality. and besides all that, he simply played his ass off - in a way that was totally unprecedented on his instrument, or on ANY instrument for that matter.
because jaco's thing has been so fully assimilated into the culture and the musical vocabulary of our time, i notice that it is difficult for people who weren't around at the time of his emergence to fully weigh theimpact of his contribution. as a young musician who met jaco in his prime when we were both just starting out, i can only say that my reaction upon hearing him for the first time (with ira sullivan in miami, florida in 1972) was simply one of shock - i had literally never heard anything remotely like it, nor had anyone else around at the time. and yes, as is so often noted in his case, the way hewas playing was unprecedented in technical terms, but that wasn't what made it so stunningly appealing to me. there was a humanity to jaco's thing, built into those relentless grooves was that rare quality that only the most advanced jazz musicians seem to be able to conjure up - with jaco, you were hearing the sound of a time, of an entire generation at work, on the move.
our musicalrelationship was immediate. we recognized in each other a kind of impatience with the status quo of our respective instruments and jazz in general and found an instantaneous rapport from the first notes we played together. we also became really good friends. during the short time that i lived in miami (near jaco's hometown of ft. lauderdale), we played show gigs together and occasionally played at hishouse (he was living on top of a laundromat at the time) and spent a lot of time just talking about music, much of it about how intensely we both disliked the so-called jazz/rock of the time. ( how ironic that we are both now associated (inaccurately) with that movement). shortly after we met, i wound up moving to boston to join gary burton's quartet. during this period, jaco and i spent time...