Sunday, January 24, 2016

DVD: Jaco - The Film (Iron Horse Entertainment, 2015)

When he was feeling his oats, Jaco Pastorius would introduce himself to people as “the greatest bass player in the world.” To listen to the testimonials of his contemporaries in this DVD biography, it wasn’t too far from the truth. This video follows a roughly chronological order, beginning with his youth in south Florida. His absentee father was a Sinatra like crooner, and his mother did whatever she could to make ends meet. Pastorius’ musical talent became evident early on and soon he was a young man with a wife and child gigging in territory rhythm and blues bands. After backing up a particularly brash boast to members of Blood, Sweat and Tears, he was whisked away to New York City to record his debut album, which ran the gamut from funk to bebop and opened a lot of ears, including those of keyboardist Joe Zawinul, of the popular jazz fusion band Weather Report, beginning a rocky relationship that would last years. He was at his finest at this period in the late 1970’s and you year this in the interviews: Joni Mitchell felt that he was the only bassist who could play her music properly, and drummers Peter Erskine and Lenny White were particularly impressed. But trouble was brewing, Zawinul was unhappy with Pastorius’ brash out front charisma, and also delivered withering witticism of his World of Mouth solo LP. He had divorced and remarried, becoming father of twins but also became more deeply involved with alcohol and drugs, episodes of homelessness and latent issues of mental illness became more prominent. Diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, suffering episodes of hypomania and severe depression, he checked into Bellvue Hospital for treatment. Not too long after, a vicious beating at the hands of a Fort Lauderdale nightclub bouncer provided an inglorious end to his life that was filled with so much promise. The film itself is quite good, filled with a lot of footage of Pastorius playing in a variety of situations. Interviews with his colleagues are thoughtful and poignant, especially from Erskine as he saw much of Pastorius’ downfall and did the best he could to help. Wayne Shorter’s always unique perspective on life and music is particularly interesting. Also included are interviews with modern rock musicians like Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallica’s Robert Trujillo who co-produced the film. JACO-The Film -

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