Included in this all-star gala, produced by impresario Charles Carlini, are Pastorius colleagues and former bandmates like trumpeter Randy Brecker, percussionist Don Alias, saxophonist Ira Sullivan, guitarist Hiram Bullock, bassist Will Lee, drummers Kenwood Dennard and Lenny White, steel pans virtuoso Othello Molineaux and pianist/accordianist Gil Goldstein, who is acting as musical director for the proceedings. Featured bass players are Jeff Berlin, Richard Bona, Victor Wooten, Gerald Veasley, Christian McBride, Matthew Garrison, Oteil Burbridge, Steve Bailey, Avishai Cohen and Jaco’s son Felix Pastorius. Opening the concert is a special reunion edition of Mike Mainieri’s Steps Ahead, featuring saxophonist Michael Brecker, guitarist Mike Stern, bassist Richard Bona and drummer Steve Smith.
For this special occasion at the Beacon, Gil Goldstein has worked up fresh arrangements of such classic Jaco compositions as “Come On Come Over,” “Three Views Of A Secret,” “Continuum,” “Opus Pocus” and “Liberty City” that will also prominently feature the Flux String Quartet. “Jaco's compositions are far and above the music of any of his contemporaries,” said Goldstein. “I think they are some of the best songs that have been written in the later jazz age. I also think they are going to have a history of being covered and recovered, and I’m hoping that these new arrangements are going to offer a different view of his stuff.”
Another Jaco Pastorius tribute concert in Miami on June 2 will include the Jeff Berlin Trio with Cliff Almond on drums and Richard Drexler on piano and Othello & The JP Factor featuring steel pans virtuoso and former Word of Mouth band member Othello Molineaux with pianist Sylvano Monasterious, drummer Gary Marsall and the Pastorius twins Felix on bass and Julius on percussion. This JVC Jazz Festival event will be held at the outdoor mall on Lincoln Road, just two blocks from the beach.
Although Jaco Pastorius passed away nearly 18 years ago (on September 21, 1987), his musical legacy remains as strong today as ever. Jazz artists around the world continue to cover his compositions or offer up personal tributes to the man on their recordings, all attesting to the indelible mark that Jaco made in his relatively short career. Born in Norristown, Pennsylvania on December 1, 1951, Pastorius grew up in Fort Lauderdale and as a teenager began playing around the South Florida music scene. Originally a drummer, he switched to electric bass at age 16 after injuring his wrist in a football game and adapted remarkably well to his new instrument. Within a year, it was clear to everyone on the scene that he possessed special gifts as a bassist. Growing by leaps and bounds, Jaco would quickly develop a wholly new and unprecedented vocabulary on the instrument. After performing in a series of local Florida bands, Pastorius was “discovered” by Blood, Sweat & Tears drummer Bobby Columby, who produced Jaco’s landmark self-titled debut for Epic Records in late 1975. Jaco joined Weather Report, the premier fusion band of the ‘70s, in April of 1976 and appeared on the band’s groundbreaking 1977 Columbia album, Heavy Weather. He remained with Weather Report for six years, appearing on a string of acclaimed recordings including 1978’s Mr. Gone, 1979’s Grammy Award-winning 8:30, and 1980’s Night Passage. Pastorius’ second recording as a leader, 1981’s Word of Mouth on Warner Bros., introduced such ambitious Jaco compositions as “Liberty City,” “John and Mary” and the adventurous title track along with a full big band arrangement of his most famous composition, “Three Views of a Secret.” Jaco’s 1983 album, Invitation, documented his Word of Mouth Big Band on tour in Japan. He subequently toured in a scaled-down sextet version of Word of Mouth and with the PDB trio-featuring guitarist Hiram Bullock and drummer Kenwood Dennard.
In the early, meteoric phase of his career, the charismatic Pastorius revolutionized the role of electric bass guitar. As the self-described “world’s greatest bass player,” he inspired legions of bass players around the world to push the limits on their own musicality. As one bassist so rightly put it, “There was bass before Jaco and there was bass after Jaco. He opened the door and we walked through.”