This has to be my favorite Pastorius composition plus one of his finest solos on the Heavy Weather album with Weather Report. It has it all... groove, tone, speed, articulation, sound, attitude, great quotes, ..... am I missing something?Happy birthday Jaco!
Havona (Criteria Recording Demo, Miami, Fall 1974) by Jaco Pastorius (8009 KB)
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Havona (1975) Sample by Jaco Pastorius (572 KB)
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Havona by Weather Report (11039 KB)
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Havona by Jaco Pastorius & The Word Of Mouth Septet (5270 KB)
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Among Jaco’s bass anthems, when it comes to the triple-threat combination of composition, bass line, and solo, none stands quite as tall as “Havona.” Pastorius originally wrote the tune in late 1973, while under the spiritual influence of The Urantia Book. A chapter in the book describes “Havona” as the master galaxy (which contains Earth)—and as a perfect universe consisting of a billion spheres of unimagined beauty. A raw version featuring Herbie Hancock, Lenny White, and Don Alias was recorded for Jaco’s 1976 landmark solo debut, but it was not included.
The preeminent “Havona” version came a year later, for Weather Report’s 1977 epic, Heavy Weather. Strikingly fresh and uninhibited, the track dances and soars on an ear-grabbing bass line, partnered with a sizzling drum groove. Meanwhile, angular changes provide fodder for the consensus baddest bass guitar solo ever put to tape. As drummer Alex Acuña told Joe Zawinul biographer Brian Glasser, “I think my favorite [track on Heavy Weather] is ‘Havona.’ That, for me, is how I always want to play, that kind of a conversation. When I hear that tune, I still get the chills. Everything was improvised in that moment—it’s almost no overdubs.” Perhaps Peter Erskine, who succeeded Acuña in Weather Report, sums it up best. “As the final track on Heavy Weather, it’s one of those tunes on one of those albums that, when you’ve finished listening to it, you want to listen to the entire recording from the beginning all over again. It is a perfect track and is one of my all-time favorite Jaco performances. Oddly, it was one of the few tunes that the band did not rehearse or try to play live when I was in the group, but I’m grateful for its existence. ‘Havona’ is definitive Jaco: incredible rhythm, new and fresh harmony, virtuosity—flawless execution and intonation, including his Stravinsky quote!—and a sense that the song is coming from the past and the future at the same time.”
Brian Risner, who engineered Heavy Weather with Malo, and did live sound for Weather Report from 1972–83, summons up some details of the session. “It was late 1976, and we were at our usual spot, Devonshire Sound Studios, in North Hollywood. The room there is like a live echo chamber, which is why there’s so much ‘air’ in Weather Report recordings. There was no need for tight miking or much miking in general, with the room supplying all that ambience and an open, accurate, spatial sound.” Jaco played his ’62 Jazz “Bass of Doom,” with its fretless rosewood neck and new Rotosound roundwounds. Risner recalls that while Jaco’s Acoustic 360 rig was miked against the upper grille with an Electro-Voice RE-20, that was only 25 percent of the sound; the other 75 percent was his direct signal through a stock M.C.I. board, with a “drop” of limiting in a few spots, via a Universal Audio 1176.
Jaco, Zawinul, Shorter, and Acuña recorded the song live (percussionist Manolo Badrena didn’t play on the track). Explains Risner, who continues to work with L.A.’s jazz best, as well as doing post-production for film and TV soundtracks, “Jaco brought the piece in new, so they were all reading it; I remember it was the most challenging song on the album. They ran it down a few times, and in those days a reel of tape was 15 minutes, so you’d play the tune twice in a row for each take. I can’t recall how the bass solo was done, but there were at least three tracks of bass available, so Jaco could have edited it together from different passes. I just remember that Jaco, Joe, and Wayne were always present, for anyone’s overdubs or punches.”
Havona: Six Minutes Of Sublime Sub-Hook
“Havona” begins with Zawinul’s seemingly random synth-chord stabs, locked in when Acuña’s cymbal-led kit enters, in bar 7. Synth and kit roll on, building the suspense that’s capped by Acuña’s superb two-bar cymbal break, in bars 22 and 23. At last, Jaco’s bass bursts forth (at letter A) with such deftness and presence it’s hard to focus on Shorter and Zawinul’s tied-whole-note melody. Immediately, Jaco establishes his use of all the chord tones available: 6ths, major 7ths, and 2nds/9ths are as prevalent as roots, 5ths, and 3rds. Notes Christian McBride, who recorded the tune on upright for his CD Sci-Fi, “It’s ingenious the way his note choices switch between being melodic and serving as the bass function. Bar 26 is a great example; he delays the root on the downbeat by first playing the 2nd and 6th. It shouldn’t work on paper, but no matter how many times I perform the tune, I’ve got to play the bass line that way—it’s part of the song. Strong-beat/weak-beat is simply not an obstacle for him! That gives credence to the bass line being as much of a melody as, or counter-melody to, his sparse written melody.”
Janek Gwizdala agrees: “In a way, Jaco is soloing throughout the song. He’s not sticking to an ostinato bass line; he’s developing motifs that are so melodic you could make new compositions out of most of them.” In fact, the two-bar length of most of the changes seems designed to allow Jaco to fill or complete his phrase in the second measure (as in bars 34-35 and 36-37). Steve Bailey best puts it in perspective. “An interesting aspect is how Zawinul and Wayne Shorter let Jaco dominate the music and the mix; their solos are softer and panned to the sides, while the bass is hot throughout. Essentially, the track is just a bass line and a bass solo, with some accompaniment. It’s almost not about the bass fitting the music—it’s about the music fitting the bass.”
Bars 39 into 40 and 41 caught the ears of our panel, citing both the bluesy fill at the end of bar 39 (which Acuña somehow doubles on his snare) and Jaco’s use of a quick D and than an F# pedal instead of the A-B pedal he uses most of the rest of the way. A mistake, perhaps? Not likely, because he could have punched a fix. In bar 44, we arrive at what Jimmy Haslip calls “the torturous turnaround lick.” McBride marvels, “How do you even get it in your brain to want to play that? It’s like jumping off a building and then saying, ‘Now I want to jump back up!’” Steve Bailey agrees: “The first time I heard that lick I freaked out; later, when I got to know Jaco in Florida, I asked him to show it to me, and I remember he had two different fingerings he used to play it.” McBride offers, “There’s no chord change played, but it implies a C Lydian scale starting on the 7th (B); actually, knowing Jaco’s piano side, it almost sounds like it could be the arpeggio of a chord voicing he came up with.”
Speaking of chord changes, it’s worth noting the basic pattern of major chords moving in major 3rds (E–C/B–G). Is this perhaps influenced by the kind of chord movement Coltrane used in “Giant Steps,” which Jaco would later cover on Word of Mouth? Also, one can’t help but contrast Jaco’s “Teentown,” with its dominant 7 chords moving in minor 3rds. Suggests Gwizdala, “You can point to earlier tunes like Joe Henderson’s “Inner Urge” (1964), with the same kind of movement; music schools call it ‘parallel constant-structure chords’—a chord progression consisting of three or more chords of the same quality. But I think this was just Jaco finding his own voice.”
Keyboardist/arranger Gil Goldstein, who worked with Jaco and his music, offers, “There was a sense of ‘correctness’ in Jaco’s voice-leading. That was a word he used a lot, and he made sure his chords and solos fit into that mold. I remember seeing him swiftly and accurately playing voicings at the piano with his wide reach and pinpoint aim. Referring to ‘Havona’ specifically, there are parallel structures, but what made it interesting was the relationship of the outer voices: the top note of the voicing to the bass note. That was where Jaco created the magical tension that propelled his voice-leading and made them sound so mysterious. I believe he learned this from Gil Evans, who was Jaco’s inspiration in many ways. Similar to ‘Havona’ in this interesting relationship between the outer voices are the voicings in ‘John and Mary’ [from Word of Mouth, Warner Bros.]. Of course, good contrary motion is not something new—every music student hears about it in counterpoint class or harmony lessons—but few come to be able to control those elements in a musical and personal way, and Jaco’s use of that idea was magnificent and totally his own.”
Joe & Wayne’s World
Letters B and C indicate Zawinul’s potent piano solo and Shorter’s snaking soprano sax solo. For Zawinul’s turn, Jaco breaks it down via perfectly intonated 5ths in bars 46 and 47. Says Gwizdala, “Making those 5ths work against such dense chords reminds us that his touch was phenomenal; it’s what changed modern electric bass playing.” Jaco starts percolating again in bar 48, leading McBride to note, “You can clearly hear Acuña’s brilliance here, with his hip hybrid of swing and Latin, reminiscent of Airto with the first edition of Return To Forever. Alex and Jaco came into the band together and really had the hookup.” Among Jaco bars of note are 52—where he adds tension by starting on the 2nd and moving up the scale instead of down to the root—and 54–55. “Those two bars are sequential melodic genius,” says Bailey. “And the twist is, he starts with dominant 7th-to-root for the Em chord, but instead of changing it to major 7th-to-root for the E major chord, he goes with 6th-to-major 7th!” Gwizdala adds, “It’s brilliant, but it’s a lick; notice that it reappears in bars 76–77. Jaco likely figured out that one on the Wayne Cochran tour bus four years earlier. But that’s cool; look at Michael Brecker, a self-confessed lick player. All the greats play licks, but they have them so together they’re able to incorporate them fluidly in a variety of appropriate settings.”
Following another “torturous turnaround” run, Wayne Shorter begins blowing at letter C. Jaco breaks it down again, this time with perfectly intonated octaves of the roots and 3rds of the chords. As the bass pace picks up, McBride points to bar 75. “[Drummer] Brian Blade and I used to talk about this; Jaco plays an open E on beat two, possibly anticipating the next chord way early, and Acuña catches it with him—that couldn’t have been planned!” Gwizdala adds, “So much of the band’s comping is Q&A stuff all the way through. As with any great band, they listen more than they play.”
Solo Of Doom
Jaco’s historic solo arrives at letter D. Haslip, who recorded the tune in 2003 with the Word Of Mouth Big Band, sets us up. “My jaw dropped when I first heard Jaco’s awesome solo; what hit me next was how well balanced it was: technique, lyricism, flow, and heart—essential ingredients for music that will stand the test of time. I spoke to Jaco soon after, and he told me the solo was a composite of three passes, but where the edits are I don’t know.” Jimmy continues, “The opening motif is killer, as memorable as John Williams’s motif from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. For the answering phrase in bar 92, with its C Lydian flavor, I always hear ‘Maria,’ from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. Bars 94–96 quote Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring intro.”
As Jaco gets more linear, coming out of the gorgeous motif in bar 97, our panel offers speculative harmonic analysis. Haslip: “To my ear, I hear E minor with chromatic passing tones—bebop!—in bar 98; an F#/E or E Lydian sound in 99; A minor in 100; C Lydian in 101; Ab minor pentatonic in 102 and 103; and B minor pentatonic in 104–110.” Gwizdala: “One of Jaco’s favorite devices was to play the minor pentatonic a half-step below a major 7 chord. So if he had a Cmaj7, playing a B minor pentatonic scale—B, D, E, F#, A—would touch in all the upper-extension color tones—major 7th, 9th, 10th, and #11. He also liked minor pentatonic scales a minor 3rd down from the root of a major 7 chord; and here, against the Bmaj6/9(#11) chord in bars 102 and 103, you can call that Ab minor pentatonic or even Ab Dorian, because he gets the 6th in there, the E#/Fn.” McBride sums up the linear content more directly: “It’s bebop, man; it’s a bionic version of Bird. He’s thinking like a horn or piano. At that time, few if any had played like this on electric or upright bass. Guys were soloing over II–V’s, but to be exploring the upper partials of altered and poly-chords in these kinds of progressions was unheard of.”
Way Out Of The Box
Jaco begins his second chorus at bar 112, with a more involved (though no less melodic) statement that continues into the first half of bar 113. More so than in his first chorus, he builds overall momentum and intensity by playing extended lines between his melodic stopping points. This can be heard in the last six 16ths of bar 113 and the first six 16ths of bar 114, before the phrase (and breath) at the end of 114. Haslip interjects, “I see bars 112–113 as E Lydian, or even B major pentatonic [B, C#, D#, F#, G#], which weaves its way into a C major pentatonic utilizing 4ths, in bars 114 and 115.” The C major pentatonic pickup in bar 115, B major pentatonic motif in 116, and the rhythmic phrase in 117-118 (C major pentatonic to G major) also contain longer, more ambitious phrases. Gwizdala observes, “The rhythmic displacement in bars 117 and 118, where he plays descending groupings of four, six, three, and five 16th-notes, is classic Jaco; it’s reminiscent of the groups of four notes he plays against triplets in ‘Donna Lee,’ or the five-against-four groupings in his ‘Continuum’ solo.”
McBride puts bars 120–127 into perspective. “If we had met a medium in 1975 who said in the next year there’s a bass player who is going to play those nine measures, we would have thought they were delusional! It’s just an insane passage up and down the fingerboard, and it’s likely one long idea, with no punches. Best of all, it gets badder as it goes along. There’s the incredible and difficult-to-play figure in bar 124 and the first half of 125, which gives way to the triplet feel in the last part of bar 125. This sets up the consummate climax, with Jaco touching on all the chord tones while bouncing off the open G string, in bars 126 and 127.” Gwizdala points out. “The figure in bars 125 and 126 reminds us of how Jaco was into wide intervallic leaps, which give your lines a very horn-like sound. If you recall on his instructional video/DVD [Jaco Pastorius: Modern Electric Bass, Warner Bros.], in addition to scales and arpeggios, Jaco stressed working on all kinds of string-jumping intervals.”
Haslip offers some harmonic analysis to the nine measures he calls “mind-bending.” “As before, Jaco uses both scale/chord tones, like E minor in bar 120, and pentatonics, like B major pentatonic in 121. I’m hearing C Lydian or even E minor pentatonic in bars 122–123, and Ab minor pentatonic in 124–125, plus the cool descending chromatic note (G) in the middle of 125. And I hear the climactic triplets in bars 126 and 127 as intervals of the D major scale, over the open G pedal.” Of bar 128, McBride insists, “I’m pretty sure he punched the 5ths, because the F# on top is so loud.” Bailey adds, “In bar 130 he plays D to E, the second and last time he plays something other than A-B in the pedal sections. He also plays them as the root of 1-5-9 chord voicings, which is a great fretless bass chord; I give it to all my students to test their intonation.” Gwizdala concludes, “Jaco’s creativity behind this solo was way out of the box.”
Back To The Head?
Letter E portends to be a return to the head, with Zawinul playing the melody on synth an octave down from letter A, loosely doubled by Shorter. But by bar 137, Zawinul is also playing a full-blown right-hand piano solo that continues up to the turnaround lick. One panelist teases, “That’s just Joe, having to get in the last word.” On the bottom, Jaco has some more dazzling moves to come. Bailey digs how Jaco finishes his two-bar groove phrase in bars 136–137, with no root to be found in 137, and no fear of playing the b5 on the downbeat. McBride likes the fresh rhythmic idea in bars 138–139, almost a half-time swing approach. In bar 143, Jaco lets loose with a gorgeous upper-register fill (using the 9th, 6th, and 10th). Says Gwizdala, “Jaco loved songs and singers, from Sinatra to Aretha to Broadway, so he knew the sweet notes.” In contrast, as if finally boiling over with sonic adrenaline, Jaco then unleashes a torrent of trills, in bars 148–149.
Letter F also begins undefined. Instead of stating the melody again, Shorter fills, while Jaco resonates on 5ths before introducing the track’s harmonics in bar 162. Both finally get back to the melody, doubling it to dramatic effect, in bars 163–166—Bailey’s favorite moment in the track.
An extended outro on the B7sus pedal begins at letter G. At first, Shorter whoops and wails, while Jaco plays edgy syncopations between low A-B’s. His four 16th-note B’s at the end of bar 172 seem to catch Zawinul’s ear. As Bailey notes, Zawinul takes the idea and turns it into steady-16th B’s on piano for the entire bar 178; Jaco catches this and begins doing it himself, in bar 182. Says Steve, “When Jaco begins looping the B’s in bar 186, check out how he shades them with varying dynamics.” McBride adds, “His time on the B’s is so dead-on; it reminds me of what he later did with steady A’s on ‘Port of Entry’ [from Weather Report’s Night Passage].” As Jaco comes out of the pattern, in bar 199, Zawinul restates the intro chords (while Shorter makes a sly reference to the steady B’s in two different octaves). Jaco bides his time, leaving the bottom to Zawinul’s synths and grabbing just the last three melody notes (bars 204 and 205). Overtones from an unknown source ring subtly from the last chord, giving the listener a good ten seconds to absorb the sonic spectacle that has just occurred.
Have At It
“‘Havona’ is indeed a glorious piece of music,” marvels Bailey. “Victor Wooten has always maintained that Jaco was able to play as busily as he wanted because he grooved so darn hard and with such intensity. As a result, my advice, when attempting it, is to focus on the time and groove first and foremost. Then the part will begin to flow.” Haslip adds, “Ultimately, for both the bass line and solo, it’s about understanding the harmony as thoroughly as Jaco did, and exploring it for yourself.” Gwizdala takes it a step further: “You really should transcribe the bass part yourself if you’re going to learn it. Make sure you listen to it closely until you can sing the entire part and solo without your bass in your hands. This way the music will get deep inside of you. And be ready to forget about it as soon as you’ve learned it all. The less time it spends in the forefront of your mind, the less it will cloud your own personal voice on your instrument. That’s the goal, because that’s what Jaco had above all else.”
Jaco’s Tool Kit
“Havona” has many but not all of Jaco’s trademark fingerboard moves; here’s a list of the main ones.
1. Sustain & Vibrato
Jaco’s singing fretless tone is instantly recognizable and especially poignant on melodies like “Continuum” and Weather Report’s “A Remark You Made.” There are several keys to achieving his trademark slow attack/slow decay notes. To start with, while Jaco slid, hammered, pulled off, and trilled into notes, when he wanted to be especially expressive he’d often use a three-finger roll. Target a note you want to play with your 3rd fretting-hand finger, but first play the note two frets below with your index finger, then quickly hammer your 2nd finger on the next fret and then your 3rd finger on the target note; this all-in-one motion will create a slight delay, adding impact to the note. Next, Jaco favored a classical string player-like, side-to-side vibrato; while sitting on the target note, use a subtle side-to-side motion with your finger, hand, and even your arm (keeping your thumb anchored behind the neck), while also rolling your finger pad on the note. Pause slightly to establish the pitch before adding vibrato, like a vocalist does; that will make the note sound more natural. Also key is your plucking-hand placement; striking the strings with a lighter attack just below the fingerboard will provide your notes with maximum swell.
2. Natural & False Harmonics
Having practically invented the use of extensive harmonics for explosive, sonically cutting melodies and chords on the bass guitar, Jaco was a master of both natural and false or artificial harmonics. His landmark “Portrait of Tracy” is a thesis on natural harmonics; Weather Report’s “Birdland” is no doubt his most famous false-harmonic line; while “Amerika” incorporates both. Natural harmonics are basically about touch and geography. Once you’ve identified key harmonics at various dividing points—called nodes—over the string’s length (such as the 12th, 7th, 5th, and 4th frets), touch the string over the fret with your index finger, without pressing down. Then pluck the string and remove your index finger an instant later to sound the harmonic’s bell-like tone. Playing harmonics on multiple strings led Jaco to the discovery of some interesting chords.
False or artificial harmonics work on the same principle of dividing the string, except that you’re fretting the string while playing the harmonic. For example, if you’re fretting an Eb on the G string’s 8th fret, go to the halfway point (in this case the 20th fret) and place your index finger over that point. Next, reach behind your index finger with your thumb and pluck the string, releasing your index finger an instant later. An Eb harmonic should sound. You can also reverse your fingers, using your thumb as a capo and plucking the string with your index finger, which was Jaco’s preferred method.
3. R&B Staccato 16ths
Like Rocco Prestia and Jerry Jemmott (whom Jaco used to sneak into Miami’s Criteria Studios to hear) before him, Jaco was a master of the busy-but-seamless groove. To duplicate his stuttering sound, favor your bridge pickup, move your plucking hand back by the bridge, and play short notes with the tips of your index and middle fingers. Use the alternate finger as well as your fretting hand to help deaden the plucked notes. To perfect your feel and sense of how to interchange pitches and ghost-notes to the fullest groove effect, check out Jaco’s “Come On, Come Over,” “The Chicken,” and Herbie Hancock’s “4A.M.” On the Latin side, go with Jaco’s “(Used to Be a) Cha-Cha,” “Invitation,” and, of course, “Havona.”
4. The Jaco “two feel”
One of the numerous ways Jaco modernized his instrument was to come up with a funky alternative to walking (though he could stride with the best of them). Jaco’s bounce—playing half-notes and catching the last triplet of beats two, four, or even one and three—added rhythmic punch and drive, while giving way to the occasional walked measure or two. To hone your own two-feel, be sure you know your chord tones and listen to Jaco’s “Liberty City” and Joni Mitchell’s Mingus album, a virtual textbook on the approach, from bright tempo (“Dry Cleaner From Des Moines”) to ballad (“Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”).
Although Jaco stressed the natural sound of his hands and bass, he did at times employ the built-in fuzztone on his Acoustic 360, an early MXR digital delay through a separate amp for a chorus/flange effect without loss of bottom, and an Electro-Harmonix 16-second digital delay to create groove loops to play against (check out Weather Report’s “Slang” and Jaco’s “Giant Steps/Reza”). To duplicate the sound, good modern-day fuzztone, delay, and loop units will serve well. On rare occasions, Jaco would detune his E string down to C. Two effective examples are “Overture/Cotton Avenue,” from Joni Mitchell’s 1977 Asylum disc Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter, and “Nativity,” from Airto’s 1977 Warner Bros. release I’m Fine, How Are You.
Ten years ago (September ’97), we asked a dozen top bassists to name their favorite Jaco track; Jimmy Haslip and three others selected “Havona.”
The whole track sounds like it’s coming from another dimension, melodically and harmonically. Jaco revolutionized the instrument like no one had before him, and—as far as I’m concerned—like no one ever will again.
Jaco grooves “Havona” with that trademark 16th-note figure he loved to play, and his solo is beautiful—it’s more like a composition in that it’s well thought out and flawlessly executed. [Pianist/arranger] Gil Evans used to get a real kick out of how shamelessly romantic Jaco’s phrasing could be, and this solo has some great examples—especially the opening lines. Jaco’s impact on the rest of us is eternal.
Jaco had an amazing energy. He played as if he knew he was going to die young—and to me, that’s the way you’re supposed to play and live your life.
Snapshots Of Six New Jaco Sides (On CD/DVD)
1. The Essential Jaco Pastorius [Epic/Legacy] Sony brings aboard co-producer Bob Bobbing to release a timely 2-CD, 27-track collection of Jaco’s mainstream “hits.” As an essentials package, especially for those newer to Jaco, it delivers the goods. Key cuts from key albums are largely in place: “Donna Lee,” “Come On, Come Over,” “Portrait of Tracy,” “Continuum,” “Birdland,” “Teentown,” “Havona,” “Three Views of a Secret,” “Liberty City,” and more. The accompanying 16-page booklet features heartfelt quotes from Carlos Santana, Sting, and Flea; plus there are some new photos, and Bill Milkowski once again retells the Pastorian tale.
More serious Jaco-philes can question whether a second, live version of “Teentown,” Jaco’s live solo “Slang,” or even Weather Report’s “Port of Entry” were needed, at the expense of, say, “Las Olas,” “Blackbird,” or “Invitation.” To Sony’s credit, the disc includes “Bright Size Life,” “Dry Cleaner From Des Moines,” “4A.M.,” and “Dreamland” (Jaco’s best tracks with Pat Metheny, Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock, and Michel Colombier, respectively). Bottom line: As with Punk Jazz, Warner Bros.’ 2003 28-track Jaco anthology (which Bobbing also contributed to), there are choices and omissions that ultimately beg for a comprehensive box set. (Are you listening, Legacy?)
2. Trio of Doom [Columbia/Legacy] This super trio, with Jaco, guitarist John McLaughlin, and Tony Williams, was born out of a March ’79 music festival in Havana, Cuba, featuring much of Columbia’s pop and jazz roster. After rehearsing four songs in New York, the trio’s half-hour set in Havana was supposedly marred by Jaco’s erratic behavior. They then returned to New York for studio recordings of three of the tunes, and both live and studio versions are presented on this uneven, occasionally brilliant set.
“Dark Prince,” McLaughlin’s rapid-fire straightahead minor blues, finds Jaco walking so intently it more than makes up for his sketchy key centers at times; his focus is better on the studio version, and he trades some solos with Williams. The laidback bluesy funk of Williams’s “Para Oriente” lets Jaco slip into groove mode, but both versions wander. McLaughlin’s live-only “Are You the One?” is an every-man-for-himself fusion burner. This is contrasted by the disc’s highpoint, live and studio versions of “Continuum.” Given the ballad setting, the trio finally gels. McLaughlin’s gorgeous improvised open chords start the tracks, followed by Williams’s swirling support colors; Jaco is blissfully on his way, quoting Richard Rodgers’s “Do I Love You” at one peak.
3. Jaco Pastorius: The Early Years Recordings [www.jacopastorius.com] Bob Bobbing’s fertile 15-track CD (and 16-page booklet) has been somewhat obscured by its coming five years after Portrait of Jaco: The Early Years; it also isn’t on a major label, and it’s being released amid a crop of other Weather Report and Jaco reissues. Nonetheless, it’s one of Bobbing’s proudest achievements (he calls it the prequel to Jaco’s solo debut), and indeed, it is a most essential disc.
In a nutshell, Bobbing has restored the complete music tracks from the 1968–75 portion of Portrait of Jaco by removing the narrative voice-overs and partial edits, which means Jaco’s early home demos and tracks with Tommy Strand & the Upper Hand, Wayne Cochran & C.C. Riders, and the Peter Graves Orchestra all bask in their full glory. In addition, there’s a fresh version of “The Chicken” by Jaco as part of the organ trio Woodchuck, a new Strand cut, “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” and the world debut of Jaco’s “Ballye de Nina,” a 1973 esoteric jazzer written for his daughter Mary, featuring Ira Sullivan and Joe Diorio.
4. Weather Report: Live at Montreux 1976 [Eagle Rock, reviewed in June ’07] The band hadn’t released Heavy Weather yet, but this DVD certainly shows Jaco in his fiery prime, on tracks like “Black Market,” “Barbary Coast,” and a solo version of “Portrait of Tracy.”
5. Jaco Pastorius: Live and Outrageous [Shanachie, reviewed in May ’07] Not the best personal period for Jaco, which results in his merely mortal playing. But the sidemen are stellar, and it’s interesting to see Jaco’s big band arrangements re-imagined for sextet in this 1982 Montreal Jazz Fest concert DVD.
6. Weather Report: Forecast Tomorrow [Columbia/Legacy, reviewed in October ’06) Thunderously good 4-CD set featuring all the great Weather Report bassists, with a bonus DVD of a prime Weather Report concert from 1978. Best moment: A heretofore serious-faced Jaco erupts into a broad grin when Joe Zawinul throws in a tasty reharmonization during “A Remark You Made.”