|Jaco Pastorius — Modern American Music… Period! The Criteria Sessions (2014)|
Jaco Pastorius — Modern American Music… Period! The Criteria Sessions
θ≡ Tragic genius who reinvented the electric bass guitar, playing complex, long lines and amazing solos at remarkable speeds.
Birth name: John Francis Pastorius III
Born: December 1, 1951, Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died: September 21, 1987, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.
Instruments: Bass guitar, drums, double bass, piano, vocals, mandocello, steel drums
Notable instruments: Fender Jazz Bass
Album release: April 15th, 2014
Record Label: Omnivore Recordings
01 Donna Lee 2:55
02 Balloon Song [12-Tone] 8:07
03 Pans #1 4:49
04 Havona/Continuum 10:22
05 Kuru 5:39
06 Continuum 4:03
07 Opus Pocus (Pans #2) 6:09
08 Time Lapse 4:13
09 Balloon Song [12-Tone] [Alternate] 12:52
10 Time Lapse [Alternate] 5:17
11 Forgotten Love 1:52
Album Moods: Bravado Confident Exciting Gutsy Smooth Sophisticated Street-Smart Stylish Tense/Anxious Urgent Visceral Volatile Warm Aggressive Ambitious Cerebral Complex Difficult Dramatic Elegant Fiery Freewheeling Lively Rousing Wistful Atmospheric
Themes: Maverick Revolutionary The Creative Side Cool & Cocky Introspection Mischievous Hanging Out Late Night Playful Personnel:
¬ Jaco Pastorius: bass, Fender Rhodes
¬ Bob Economou: drums
¬ Alex Darqui: piano, Fender Rhodes
¬ Othello Molineaux: steel drums
¬ Sir Cederik Lucious: steel drums
¬ Don Alias: percussion
Review by Matt Collar; Score: ****
θ≡ Modern American Music… Period! The Criteria Sessions presents a series of demo recordings that bassist Jaco Pastorius made two years before his landmark debut album, 1976′s Jaco Pastorius. Recorded after hours at Miami’s Criteria Studios, these tracks represent some of the earliest solo cuts from Pastorius. While a handful of these songs were eventually reworked for his debut, here we get all of these demo sessions in full. Backing Jaco on these recordings is a superb band of some recognizable and some lesser-known names, including drummer Bob Economou (who played on one track on Jaco Pastorius), Fender Rhodes keyboardist Alex Darqui, percussionist Don Alias (who also appeared on Jaco Pastorius), and steel drummers Othello Molineaux and Cederik Lucious.
θ≡ Much like 1974′s confusingly titled Jaco (Pastorius’ other early-career date with keyboardist Paul Bley and guitarist Pat Metheny), these sessions showcase an expansive, somewhat avant-garde sound that bridges the gaps between post-bop, fusion, and free improvisation. Certainly, we still get Pastorius’ bravura solo take on Charlie Parker and Miles Davis’ “Donna Lee,” but we also get to hear Pastorius lead his band through more liquid, dreamlike compositions including the roiling, steel drum-heavy “Pans” and the rarely heard “Havona/Continuum.” There is also a gorgeous early version of the bassist’s composition “Forgotten Love,” featuring Pastorius alone on electric keyboard, which gives the Herbie Hancock version on the 1976 album a run for its money. Ultimately, although these are demo-quality recordings, they clearly showcase the already genius-level ability that Pastorius had achieved before anyone knew his name. Also: By JOHN KELMAN, Published: April 6, 2014
θ≡ 1976 was, for electric bassists, the year where everything changed. Jaco Pastorius hadn't quite emerged from nowhere, and the few prior recordings on which he could be found may have provided some hint of what was to come, but it was the quadruple punch of fellow legend-in-the-making Pat Metheny's leader debut Bright Size Life (ECM, 1976), singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell's classic Hejira (Elektra/Asylum, 1976), fusion super group Weather Report's Black Market (Columbia, 1976) and, most notably, the bassist's own Jaco Pastorius (Epic, 1976), whose opening track — a duet look at Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee" with percussionist Don Alias that spoke of instrumental mastery and remarkable conceptual sophistication — that caused bassists around the world over to look up from their instruments. Who was this guy? Where did he come from? How did he emerge, seemingly out of nowhere, so fully formed and, even more significantly, well-informed? Modern American Music...Period! The Criteria Sessions goes a long way to answering those questions.
θ≡ If anything, these eleven tracks — culled from the bassist's March, 1974 demo sessions at Miami's Criteria Studios, recorded 17 months before he entered Camp Colomby Studios in New York City to lay down the tracks for Jaco Pastorius — demonstrate that this remarkable youngster, who'd cut his teeth on the South Florida nightclub circuit with Wayne Cochran's CC Riders R&B revue, was already not just a monster bassist on an instrument that had its frets removed and the neck coated in marine epoxy to protect it from the Rotosound round wound strings that, all things combined, gave him his distinctive tone; he was also a composer who, well beyond promise, was already more than delivering.
θ≡ "Havona" — Pastorius' combination of thematic lyricism and a light-speed concluding figure, relentless 16th note support lines, and sophisticated harmonies that nevertheless groove effortlessly, richly redolent of his South Florida home's subtropical breeze — would not appear on record until 1977 as the closer to Heavy Weather (Columbia), Weather Report's most commercially successful album to date and the one that elevated the group to superstar status, but it can be heard here in nascent but surprisingly fully developed form, combined in a 10-minute medley with the more atmospheric "Continuum," a song that would ultimately become something of a signature for the bassist after it appeared on his 1976 Epic debut.
θ≡ These are demos, however, and the sound quality is somewhat less than hi fidelity, with some significant tape hiss heard, especially on the ethereal introduction to "Havona/Continuum," but any sonic deficiencies quickly melt away in the face of Pastorius' staggering talent and youthful exuberance. While Jaco Pastorius would sport a more high profile cast, with appearances from Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Lenny White and Michael Brecker and Randy Brecker, it's perhaps surprising to see that at least some of Pastorius' relationships were already in place by the time of his Criteria demos. While he doesn't duet with Pastorius on Modern American Music's also-opening "Donna Lee," Don Alias is in the pool soon after on "Balloon Song (12-Tone)," a challenging and oblique piece previously heard on Portrait of Jaco: The Early Years 1968-78 (Holiday Park, 2009),but in significantly edited form, chopped down from just over eight minutes to under six.
θ≡ Alex Darqui's performance on piano and Fender Rhodes — here and throughout these sessions — suggests a talent whose subsequent anonymity remains a mystery. On "Pans," a fade-in on a fiery jam that — in addition to the pianist's busy Rhodes and Pastorius' unrelenting 16th-note bass line (dissimilar, but still somehow evoking the same controlled chaos of "Crisis," the opening track to Pastorius' 1981 Warner Bros. debut, Word of Mouth) — also features not one, but two steel drum players: Cederik Lucious and Othello Molineaux, the latter to remain a key figure in Pastorius' groups and recordings from Jaco Pastorius through to his Warner Bros. recordings, including the posthumously released The Birthday Concert (Warner Bros., 1995). It was a sound that was a constant definer to Pastorius' own music beyond his tenure with Weather Report.
θ≡ Early versions of other tracks that would ultimately appear on Jaco Pastorius show just how well-conceived Pastorius' music was, not just in his ability to imbue complex form with unshakable grooves rooted in his early R&B days, but in their arrangements as well. As harmonically abstruse as Pastorius could sometimes be, it was a rare occurrence, indeed, when the music wasn't somehow booty-shaking, too. The bright-tempo'd "Kuru" may lack the added strings and glossier production of the version on Jaco Pastorius, but it does still feature a staggering solo from Alias — a reminder just how much the percussionist is missed, since departing from this world in 2006 at the age of 66. In addition to the "Havona/Continuum" medley, a separate version of "Continuum" is a far busier affair than that which would ultimately be recorded for Jaco Pastorius — and while Pastorius' tone, even at this early stage was already unmistakable, he'd yet to apply the phase shifting that would also become a signature part of his tonal arsenal.
θ≡ Still, there are differences. An early version of Jaco Pastorius' "Opus Pocus" (here called "Opus Pocus (Pans #2)") is taken at a considerably brighter clip and, with drummer Bobby Economu playing — he appears on just one track on Jaco Pastorius but plays on all of Modern American Music — lacks the greasy funk that Lenny White and Herbie Hancock would ultimately bring to the subsequent take with far less gravitas and much more groove.
θ≡ In addition to the eight tracks lifted from the original acetate — the only acetate in existence apparently, and which has been in the possession of Pastorius' brother Gregory — three additional tracks round out Modern American Music's 66-minute runtime: an alternate version of the incendiary "Time Lapse," another composition that never saw the light of day but, appearing here twice, omits Alias' conga intro in the alternate take; an even lengthier version of "Balloon Song (12-Tone)," taken at a slightly reduced tempo and played with a much freer disposition, as opposed to the brightly swinging take on the acetate; and an earlier, even shorter and stripped down look at Jaco Pastorius' closer, "Forgotten Love" (here, just "Forgotten"), a solo Fender Rhodes piece performed by Pastorius that demonstrates the building blocks for the later version, which would feature Hancock on grand piano and Pastorius' sweeping string arrangement.
θ≡ As author Bill Milkowski — whose liner notes bring additional insight to Modern American Music — describes in his definitive Jaco: The Extraordinary and Tragic Life of Jaco Pastorius — Deluxe Edition (Backbeat Books, 2005), Pastorius' rapid rise to fame and the stuff of legend was equaled only by his tragically accelerated decline in the mid-'80s, leading to his premature death in 1987 at the age of 36. Modern American Music...Period! The Criteria Sessions reveals that Pastorius' ascent into the upper echelon of jazz legends had already begun long before the world at large awoke to that fact when four separate but essential recordings were released in 1976, just months apart. For Pastorius fans, this is a true revelation; for those who think, decades later, that all the "Jaco" hype has been much exaggerated, one listen to the exceptional music made by this singular musician at the age of 22 should be all that's needed to change their minds. (http://www.allaboutjazz.com/)
Awards and tributes:
θ≡ Pastorius received two Grammy Award nominations in 1977 for his self-titled debut album, including Best Jazz Performance By A Group and Best Jazz Performance By A Soloist for "Donna Lee". He received another nomination in 1978, Best Jazz Performance By A Soloist, for his work on Weather Report's Heavy Weather. In 1988, following his death, Jaco was elected by readers' poll for inclusion in the Down Beat Hall of Fame, the second bassist honored in this way. To date, only seven bassists have been inducted, the others being Jimmy Blanton, Ray Brown, Ron Carter, Charles Mingus, Charlie Haden and Milt Hinton).
θ≡ Numerous artists have recorded tributes to Jaco, including the Pat Metheny Group track "Jaco" on their album Pat Metheny Group (1978); the Marcus Miller composition "Mr. Pastorius" on Miles Davis' album Amandla; Victor Bailey (who replaced Jaco in Weather Report)'s cover of "Continuum" on his Who Loves You album; several tracks on Victor Wooten and Steve Bailey's Bass Extremes album; John McLaughlin's "For Jaco" on his album Industrial Zen (2006) among others.
θ≡ Since 1997, an annual birthday event takes place around December 1 in South Florida, hosted by his sons Julius and Felix Pastorius.
θ≡ On December 2, 2007, the day after his birthday, a concert called "20th Anniversary Tribute to Jaco Pastorius" was held at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, featuring performances by the award-winning Jaco Pastorius Big Band with special guest appearances by Peter Erskine, Randy Brecker, Bob Mintzer, David Bargeron, Jimmy Haslip, Gerald Veasley, Pastorius' sons John and Julius Pastorius, Pastorius' daughter Mary Pastorius, Ira Sullivan, Bobby Thomas, Jr., and Dana Paul. Also shown were exclusive home movies and rare concert footage as well as video appearances by Pat Metheny, Joni Mitchell, and other luminaries from Pastorius' life. Almost 20 years after his death, Fender released the Jaco Pastorius Jazz Bass, a fretless instrument in its Artist Series.
θ≡ On December 1, 2008, on his birthday, the park in Oakland Park's new downtown redevelopment was formally named 'Jaco Pastorius Park' in honor of the area's former resident.
θ≡ Jaco is most frequently associated with the 1962 Fender Jazz Bass nicknamed the Bass of Doom, which had had its frets removed. Pastorius claimed to have removed the frets himself but later said he had bought it with the frets already removed. Pastorius finished the fretboard with marine epoxy (Pettit's PolyPoxy) to protect the wood from the roundwound Rotosound Swing 66 strings he used. The Bass of Doom was heavily worn and was repaired several times, most notably in the mid-1980s when the bass was smashed into a number of pieces and rebuilt with figured maple veneers added to the front and back to improve the structural integrity.
θ≡ Though he played both fretted and fretless, he preferred the fretless, because he felt frets were a hindrance, once calling them "speed bumps". However, he said in the instructional video that he never practiced with the fretless because the strings "eat the neck up".
θ≡ His Fender bass was stolen shortly before he entered Bellevue hospital after he had gotten it repaired in 1986. In 1993, his bass was in the hands of a New York City music shop. In 2008, it was subsequently acquired by Robert Trujillo, bassist with Metallica. Although Trujillo currently owns the instrument, the Metallica bassist agreed in writing to relinquish the instrument to the family at any time for the same purchase price.
Amplification, effects, and strings:
θ≡ Jaco Pastorius used the "Variamp" EQ (equalization) controls on his two Acoustic 360 amplifiers (made by the Acoustic Control Corporation of Van Nuys, California) to boost the midrange frequencies, thus accentuating the natural growling tone of his fretless passive Fender Jazz Bass and roundwound string combination. He also controlled his tone color with a rackmount MXR digital delay unit that fed a second Acoustic amp rig.
θ≡ At times, he used Hartke cabinets during the final three years of his life because of the bright character of aluminum speaker cones (as opposed to paper speaker cones). θ≡ These provided a bright, clear sound. He typically used the delay in a chorus-like mode, providing a shimmering stereo doubling effect. He often used the fuzz control built in on the Acoustic 361. For the bass solo ”Slang” on the Weather Report's live album 8:30 (1979), Pastorius used the MXR digital delay to layer and loop a chordal figure and then soloed over it; the same technique, with a looped bass riff, can be seen during his solo spot on the Joni Mitchell concert video Shadows and Light.
Complete discography: http://www.jacopastorius.com/discography.html
|Jaco Pastorius — Modern American Music… Period! The Criteria Sessions (2014)|