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Jaco Pastorius

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Album Review

It's impossible to hear Jaco Pastorious' debut album today as it sounded when it was first released in 1976. The opening track — his transcription for fretless electric bass of the bebop standard "Donna Lee" — was a manifesto of virtuosity; the next track, the funk-soul celebration "Come On, Come Over" was a poke in the eye to jazz snobs and a love letter to the R&B greats of the previous decade (two of whom, Sam & Dave, sing on that track); "Continuum" was a spacey, chorus-drenched look forward to the years he was about to spend playing with Weather Report. The program continues like that for three-quarters of an hour, each track heading off in a different direction — each one a masterpiece that would have been a proud achievement for any musician. What made Jaco so exceptional was that he was responsible for all of them, and this was his debut album. Beyond his phenomenal bass technique and his surprisingly mature compositional chops (he was 24 when this album was released), there was the breathtaking audacity of his arrangements: "Okonkole Y Trompa" is scored for electric bass, French horn, and percussion, and "Speak Like a Child," which Pastorious composed in collaboration with pianist Herbie Hancock, features a string arrangement by Pastorious that merits serious attention in its own right. For a man with this sort of kaleidoscopic creativity to remain sane was perhaps too much to ask; his gradual descent into madness and eventual tragic death are now a familiar story, one which makes the bright promise of this glorious debut album all the more bittersweet. (This remastered reissue adds two tracks to the original program: alternate takes of "(Used to Be a) Cha Cha" and "6/4 Jam").

Customer Reviews

The Master

Jaco Pastorius was the greatest bassist of all time. His story was incredibly tragic, but his lasting impact on the jazz industry will never be forgotten. This album, in my opinion, is one of the greatest compellations of jazz genious of all time. This is definately a must buy for anybody interested in listening to some seriously good jazz.

I Sincerely Reccomend This Album. Seriously. Like, Really. Buy It.

Some choose to refer to Jaco Pastorius as the Godfather of modern bass. I agree. As a bassist myself, I find this music very inspiring. It's the type that makes you sit in awe listening, and thinking, 'How on earth did he do that?!!' later provoking you to try it on your own and attempt to copy the amazing stylistic and artistic creativity of songs like Come On, Come Over and Portrait of Tracy. Just go for the album. You won't regret it.

Buy the entire album...

The track, "Kuru/Speak Like a Child", is totally killer...but only available if you buy the whole album. His fingers move so fast, yet in a constant groove on that song. You shouldn't miss it. Donna Lee, is a beautiful interpretation of the Charlie Parker original (though Miles claims to have actually written it). Continuum will please those fans of Weather Report and the Joni Mitchell stuff from the mid-seventies. It is very lyrical and beautiful. Portrait of Tracy? Onkonkole y Trompa? Man, just buy the album. Jaco was too wild. He couldn't dig the frets in his electric bass, so he yanked them out and filled the gaps to give it that smooth, upright-bass feel. His absence from the music world was missed. What an inovator!


Born: December 1, 1951 in Norristown, PA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s

Jaco Pastorius was a meteor who blazed on to the scene in the 1970s, only to flame out tragically in the 1980s. With a brilliantly fleet technique and fertile melodic imagination, Pastorius made his fretless electric bass leap out from the depths of the rhythm section into the front line with fluid machine-gun-like passages that demanded attention. He also sported a strutting, dancing, flamboyant performing style and posed a further triple-threat as a talented composer, arranger and producer. He...
Full Bio