Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thursday Jazz: Jaco Pastorius

Word By Zach Zeidner

Jazz Street

Jaco Pastorius is regarded by many as arguably the greatest electric jazz bassist of all time. His sense of tone and rhythm in addition to his unbelievable technical abilities allowed Pastorius to be hoisted into the center of attention for the Jazz fusion movement. Jaco’s debut album "Jaco Pastorius" was a remarkable album that demonstrated the unique, mind-blowing talent of such a young up and coming musician. The lineup to the album is nothing to snarl at, especially for a debut album of a jazz bassist. The first album included Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, David Sanborn, Lenny White, Don Alias, and Michael Brecker as well as many others. After approaching Zawinul following a Weather Report concert in Miami, Florida, Jaco insisted that he play with the group. He first appeared on the album Black Market, this turned out to be one of the most remarkable Weather Report albums to date and Pastorius was officially inducted into the group. Pastorius went on to collaborate with many musicians after his work with Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul in Weather Report. He worked with John McLaughlin and Tony Williams in the project, Trio of Doom, as well as with many other contemporaries and legends at the time.

The album chosen for this week is Pastorius’ 1986 release "Jazz Street" which was a collaboration with drummer and percussionist Brian Melvin. The lineup includes Paul Mousavi on guitar, Jan Davis on keys, and Rick Smith on saxophone. Although none of these names may stick out to the general listener, these players are top notch and properly demonstrate their ability to play with the likes of Jaco Pastorius. This album begins with a very generic drum beat that reminds you of some crappy 80s electronic music. But then, out of nowhere the song picks up with a driving rhythm section as Jaco leads the piece with one long bass solo that seems to stick out from the rest of the group, proving this is not your ordinary 1986 album. The next song “Jazz Street” is my personal favorite off the album. It incorporates Jaco’s unbelievable bass technique with an extremely catchy rhythm reminiscent of a Weather Report composition. Be careful, because the chorus of this song will be stuck in your head all day. As the album progresses, the band demonstrates their precise ability to blend with a dominant player like Jaco Pastorius. The mesh of instrumentation as well as technique from each of the players propels this album to an instant success.

Purchase Jaco Pastorius' Jazz Street on


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