Jaco Pastorius
Jaco Pastorius


3.0
good

Review

by FlawedPerfection EMERITUS
March 14th, 2007 | 30 replies


Release Date: 1976 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Fantastic bass playing, subpar composition and ensemble skills.

There is an analogy I’ve heard about music and dynamics that has stuck with me for nearly as long as I can remember playing music. My high school band director often used an analogy for when we played all loud all the time. He continually slapped himself in the face. Not hard, but enough so he felt it. As he stood there slapping himself, he explained that eventually, his face became numb and he could no longer feel the slapping. The point he got across is important- if any sort of music is played at the same volume all the time, the climaxes in the music no longer become climaxes. All musical effect goes over the audience’s heads. Now a more evolved musician, I can take this analogy and apply it to other aspects of music. Overplaying, repetitiveness, and other stigmas in musical performance all take away from musical effect.

Jaco Pastorius is often regarded as the greatest electric bass player who ever lived, even he considered himself the best. When calling for an audition with Weather Report, he introduced himself as such: “My name is John Francis Pastorius the Third, and I’m the greatest bass player in the world.” No one had even heard of Jaco Pastorius at that point, but he knew his talents. As Weather Report progressed into one of the leading fusion bands of the 70s, his claims began to appear true. His self-titled solo album comes like Jaco proving to the world that yes, he is the greatest bass player in the world. The album justifies that statement.

However, notice the word choice of that superlative. Bass player does not imply any skill in songwriting, orchestration, arranging, producing, or anything but simply skill on the bass. That is Jaco’s flaw. In environments where he simply puts his own voice into other compositions, Jaco is brilliant. The album opens with Jaco’s version of one of Charlie Parker’s (although it is debatable that Miles Davis composed it) most difficult and well-known bebop compositions, Donna Lee. Jaco plays at the tempo and with the finesse that Bird would have played it. With only sparse and rather unpredictable congas accompanying him. A song like Donna Lee allows Jaco to show off his technique and that he does, even when he gets into his own improvisation. His speed and technique is impeccable and unmatched. Still, his improvisation and his melodic lines are nothing spectacular. Nothing really jumps out as being a particularly interesting line; it is just a bunch of fast bass runs. As the song is only 2 and a half minutes, it doesn’t really matter, because the listener will certainly be floored with Jaco’s technique and speed.

The lack of interesting melody is a certain foreshadowing to the rest of the album. Jaco’s compositional skills lack heavily. The music is repetitious and often times Jaco overplays. Come On, Come Over enters directly from Donna Lee, a great transition. Then, a nice groove settles in with synthesizer, some horns, and a vocalist. From there, absolutely nothing happens except Jaco overplaying the entire ensemble and very repetitive and stereotypical vocals. Okonkole Y Trompa revolves around congas and inventive bass harmonics. Once again, the groove is solid. The horn melody sings lyrically but never goes anywhere after playing for a while. The bass harmonics get old and boring after a while, as the song plays for over 4 minutes of that groove. Continuum is one of Jaco’s best compositions, featuring dreamy Fender Rhodes piano and Jaco. It resembles something Weather Report might do, with a much bigger focus on Jaco. The production of the song is very spacey and dreamy, with Jaco jumping all across the fretboard and harmonizing with himself beautifully.

Jaco Pastorius’ self-titled debut is not a bad album by any means. His bass playing is some of the best playing ever recorded. However, he just doesn’t blend with some of the ensembles he puts himself with. Electric bass and a string ensemble" Even Jaco can’t make it work. The string ensemble featured on Speak Like A Child takes a prominent feature, but the string arrangement (done by Jaco) is just ok. Nothing amazing and spectacular. Most of all, Jaco never realizes that even though this is a solo album, he does not have to be the prominent voice during every second of the album. Bass players (myself included) can learn a lot about technique and bass solo style from Jaco, but nothing about composing and arranging. This is a landmark for bass playing, but not so much in jazz music.

Recommended Tracks:
Donna Lee
Continuum
Portrait of Tracy



Recent reviews by this author
Das Racist RelaxLil Wayne Tha Carter IV
The Weeknd ThursdayJay-Z and Kanye West Watch the Throne
Shabazz Palaces Black UpFleet Foxes Helplessness Blues
user ratings (211)
Chart.
4.3
superb
other reviews of this album
manuscriptreplica (5)
...

trending jazz albums

Little Big


Comments:Add a Comment 
samthebassman
March 14th 2007


2164 Comments


I agree, great bass player, but the songs/compositions are hard to listen to.

MrKite
March 14th 2007


5020 Comments


Really good review.
It seems like a lot of people have the same problem with Jaco being great at playing but bad at arranging and whatnot. I'm still gonna try to pick this up just because, as you said it's a landmark for bass playing and I desperately need something to conjure up my love of playing bass as playing simple Nirvana and the like isn't very satisfying.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
March 14th 2007


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

If I can learn Donna Lee completely, my bass playing life will be complete.

Iai
Emeritus
March 14th 2007


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

In all honesty, I kinda disagree. I have no problem with the actual songs here. I understand exactly what you're putting across, and it's true that his playing is more interesting than the songs, but I certainly don't think they bring the album that much.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
March 14th 2007


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I can see why people like them, the grooves are good and his playing is great throughout. They just don't do much for me. I can't stand how loud Jaco is most of the time when the full ensemble he's playing with is supposed to be the melody.



As long as I was coherent and you know what I'm saying, that's cool with me.

pixiesfanyo
March 15th 2007


1223 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

More like off bass.



LOL.

trustxdialect
March 15th 2007


1502 Comments


I imagine your avatar saying it, and it's suddenly both completely unfunny and funny at the same time.

Conundrum.



oh yeah and good review. Should I give this a spin or not, just to see what everyone seems to be arguing about?This Message Edited On 03.15.07

Doppelganger
March 15th 2007


3124 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It's hard for me to listen to this album all the way through because it gets so boring. Though the bass playing is phenomenal. It made me want a fretless J-bass.



Good review.

Zebra
Moderator
March 15th 2007


2647 Comments


The bass playing one this album is fantastic but I still prefer Stanley Clarkes solo work over this.

any14doomsday
March 15th 2007


680 Comments


Listening to this or any bass players solo albums, is just kind of boring to me. As a bass player I respect his technical chops, but thats as far as it goes really.

ohcleverhansyou
March 15th 2007


885 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This review has voiced my opinions almost word for word. Except I enjoy "Come On Come Over" and I don't know why.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
March 15th 2007


3120 Comments


I looked at a Guitar Pro tab for "Donna Lee" and did one of those "Yeah, like I could play any of this" sort of mental commentaries.
Good review, though.

MrKite
March 15th 2007


5020 Comments


I want to hear this badly. Especially Donna Lee.
This Message Edited On 08.21.07

LifeInABox
November 24th 2007


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Guitar Pro and Tabs are for n00bs. Figuring songs out by ear is far more satisfying as well as difficult, especially with Jaco stuff.

KILL
January 4th 2014


81231 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

goin crazy

KILL
January 4th 2014


81231 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

man cha cha is fuckin dm

Kalopsia
February 1st 2014


2967 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i think this review nails it. amazing technically, not that good songwriting.





i could never make it through this entire album in one sitting, but listening to a few choice tracks and it's great

Cygnatti
February 1st 2014


32657 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

still need to check this :x

ResidentNihilist
February 1st 2014


1292 Comments


potrait of tracy brings the feels

TheBarber
February 1st 2014


3753 Comments


Couldn't really get into this unfortunatly

Digging: Mamaleek - Out of Time



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy