“He changed the rules of what you could do on the bass,” says Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers about the late Jaco Pastorius, in the documentary, “Jaco.”
“We all say it: He’s our Hendrix,” says Mars Volta bassist Juan Alderete in the same movie.
In total agreement with those musicians is Metallica’s Robert Trujillo, who produced the movie and is shown playing Pastorius’ “Bass of Doom” at Yankee Stadium in it. Trujillo introduced the movie Saturday night at the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, as part of the Asbury Park Music in Film Festival (which began on Friday and continues today), and took part in a panel discussion about it afterwards. Trujillo talked about seeing Pastorius perform in his glory days; his mind was blown, and his future path as a musician became much clearer. Getting this movie made was clearly a labor of love for him
Few musicians burned as brightly, and for as short a time, as Pastorius, who made his first major statement, his self-titled solo debut album, at the age of 24, and become one of the jazz fusion world’s biggest stars, largely through his work with Weather Report, by the time he was 30. But then everything fell apart.
He suffered from bipolar disorder and substance abuse; his behavior became erratic, and he spent time in a mental institution and living on the streets. At 35, he was beaten up by a nightclub bouncer and died from his injuries.
“Jaco” is a thorough 110-minute look at his life and his music, with phenomenal concert footage, poignant home movies and in-depth interviews with many of those who admired him or worked with him, including Trujillo, Sting, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana and Bootsy Collins; Joni Mitchell recalls both their immediate sense of musical kinship and a disturbing chance encounter with him during his downward spiral.
This movie should be required viewing for any bass player, of course, but should have a wider appeal as well, as a definitive look at a brave musical visionary whose immense talent, sadly, wasn’t enough to save him.
Hipster Assassins — a fusion band featuring one of Pastorius’ sons, bassist Felix Pastorius — performed a short set as part of the movie’s celebratory After Party, down the Boardwalk at the Stone Pony. And singer-bassist T.M. Stevens, upon taking the stage, talked about hanging out with Pastorius in New York in the ’80s. But for the two hours that I was there (approximately 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.), the After Party was more about another movie that screened at the festival: “Take Me to the River,” a documentary about Memphis soul and funk. “Take Me to the River” director Martin Shore even helped out with the music, playing percussion.
Shore guitarist Marc Ribler led a sharp house band, and guest vocalists included William Bell, J.T. Bowen, Khadijah Mohammed, Bernard Fowler, the Memphis rappers Al Kapone and Frayser Boy, and Corey Glover of Living Colour, who brought the jam to a peak by applying his powerful voice to the song “Take Me to the River” itself.
For information about today’s events, visit APMFF.org.
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