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Word of Mouth Revisited

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Album Review

Back before he turned everyone's idea of bass playing inside out, Jaco Pastorius spent five years on the bandstand with the Peter Graves Orchestra at Bachelors III, a swanky spot in his hometown of Ft. Lauderdale. Nearly three decades after the future star's departure in 1975, and 16 years after his brutal murder, Graves got the guys back together, christened them in their former colleague's name, and invited the most prominent bass guitarists of the early 21st century down to join them in a project dedicated to Pastorius' legacy. Throughout these polished performances, the bass parts testify to how profoundly Pastorius altered that instrument's role. Bottom line (so to speak): he gave them the option of playing from a soloist mentality and blowing all over the beat, as fast and free as any saxophonist, as long as he or she had chops and didn't subvert the groove. The guest bassists on this collection absorbed this lesson long ago. Each can scatter quick licks, some of them even faster than Pastorius himself. So why does a vague disenchantment haunt these performances? Perhaps it's because these players, great as they are, are still emulating more than discovering. Some imitate even the nuances of the Pastorius tone and phrasing, as does Richard Bona on "Punk Jazz" — which, of course, may be a form of tribute in this context. On an opposite extreme, the light-speed, staccato hailstorm unleashed by Victor Wooten on "Teen Town" is fundamentally unmusical, focusing on the player more than the material being played — which is, come to think of it, the real revelation here. Pastorius' tunes reflect a compositional maturity that wasn't always evident in the more improvisational context of Weather Report, and his arrangements — notably an idiosyncratic treatment of "Killing Me Softly" and the marimba-flavored exotica of "Opus Pocus" — suggest that had he had more time, he would have written history with his pen as much as his performance. One complaint: the samples of Pastorius' voice, chopped into microbits that carry no meaningful content and seem intended to function as objects of postmodern reflection, if not reverence. All these interruptions accomplish is to remind you that some artists speak most eloquently without words. ~ Robert L. Doerschuk, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Word of mouth revisited

I find nothing unmusical about Victor Wooten's take on Teen Town. The main reviewer may be searching for a way to sound self important. If so, he did.

Jaco Would Be Proud!

What a tremendous tribute to the late/great Jaco Pastorius. These guys are tight and bring a wonderful big band sound interpretation of the man and the music. Fantastic!

Well Worth a Listen

I have been a big Jaco fan for almost thirty years -- through the Weather Report years. A bass player in our college jazz band had the first solo album (vinyl!) just after it came out. I bought the second Jaco Pastorius Big Band CD first and was so impressed by it that I downloaded this one on iTunes. Admittedly, I have never heard of some of these bass players; however, I enjoy both the obvious tribute of imitations and the signature playing of Victor Wooten and others. Almost every Jaco tribute album I have heard is an auditory compliment and hats off to the foremost innovator on the electric bass in the 20th century. The interspersed snippets of Jaco speaking do not bother me, but, on the contrary, add to the charm of the tribute.

Word of Mouth Revisited, Jaco Pastorius Big Band
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Customer Ratings