This is an encore to Heads Up’ 2003 SACD Word of Mouth Revisited. Here is our review of that SACD. The big band – which includes such illustrious jazzmen as Randy Brecker, Peter Erskine, Jimmy Haslip, Bob Mintzer, Arturo Sandoval, Toots Thielemans, Gerald Veasley and Victor Wooten – is conducted by Peter Graves on both albums. The band’s purpose is to pay tribute to the great bassist Jaco Pastorius by performing his music and featuring many bassists influenced by his style of playing.
According to Pat Metheny, “Jaco Pastorius may well have been the last jazz musician of the 20th century to have made a major impact on the musical world at large.” Pastorius started out with local bands in his hometown of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, playing rock, jazz and R&B. He later began playing with the house band at a local nightclub. Its leader was Peter Graves. For five years he led the rhythm section of that band and got opportunities to write, arrange and expand the role of the bass to a lead player. He shattered the boundaries of the electric bass, eventually recording with both Weather Report and Pat Metheny. But in the mid-80s his life began to fall apart with drugs, alcohol and mental illness and after a bar fight in 1987 he went into a coma and never recovered.
Some of the finest electric bass players in the business appeared on the first album and many of them returned for this encore session. And as on the previous album, Jaco himself is heard via a track built around one of his gangbusters bass lines taken out of a live performance recorded in the mid-80s. (The track is “Reza,” the closer.) The variety and span of his compositional talents is quite impressive. The 11 tracks are all winners and range from rock-influenced burners to introspectively lovely pieces such as one of his best-known – Three Views of a Secret. Steel drummer Othello Molineaux is heard on Good Morning Anya, which was a tune on an all-streel-drums album Jaco had recorded but which has not been released. The tunes are so good that some of the musicians feel Pastorius will in future be better known as a composer than as the “world’s greatest bass player” that he claimed to be.
I ran into the same mysterious situation with the “extras” on this disc that had been frustrating on the first SACD. Heads Up frequently makes their CDs Enhanced CDs – which means adding a video, stills, and Net connections using CD-ROM features. The jewel box promises multimedia CD-ROM with all that plus artist profiles, and with the software compatible for PCs or Macs. However, as with the first album I couldn’t find anything like that on it. My guess is that a separate Enhanced CD only version of the disc has those extras, and the blurb about them was somehow not removed from the SACDs – since I have never seen an Enhanced SACD.
Tracks: Dania, Las Olas, Sirabhorn, Beaver Patrol, Cannonball, Kuru/Speak Like a Child, Three Views of a Secret, Blackbird/ Word of Mouth, Good Morning Anya, River People, Reza
– John Henry