The ascendance of bassist Jaco Pastorius
in the 1970s was a singular phenomenon in the evolution of jazz, with an impact that continues to transcend genres and resonate among his army of disciples more than a decade after his untimely passing. From the mid '70s to the mid '80s - a relatively short span by most standards - Jaco single-handedly shattered the boundaries of the electric bass and redefined its potential across all idioms of music.
Christian McBride calls Jaco "the Charlie Parker of the electric bass...Nobody has ever innovated on that instrument like Jaco did." And Marcus Miller is convinced that "every year, Jaco's memory gets stronger. It's up to us to make sure folks don't forget."
The Jaco Pastorius Big Band is the life-long project of trombonist/conductor Peter Graves, who first hired Jaco in 1971 to join the rhythm section of what was then known as the Peter Graves Orchestra - the house band at the Bachelors III, a popular Ft. Lauderdale nightclub. The group backed a variety of top jazz and pop acts ranging from Mel Torme and Nancy Wilson to the Temptations and Patti Page.
Graves' orchestra served as the laboratory in which Jaco first explored the depth and scope of his genius as a writer and arranger. The five-year gig with Graves was also a springboard for Jaco's later pursuits that included a brilliant solo recording, six years with Weather Report, collaborative projects with various high-profile artists - Joni Mitchell and Pat Metheny to name a few - and his own progressive jazz project, Word of Mouth (which featured Graves and various other members of Graves' orchestra).
The thirteen tracks on Word of Mouth Revisited span most of Jaco's prolific and diverse career, from his early compositions and arrangements with Graves' orchestra ("Punk Jazz" and "Killing Me Softly") to his more progressive forays with Weather Report ("Havona" and "Teen Town") and Word of Mouth ("Continuum," considered by Graves and many others to be Jaco's signature song). "Wiggle Waggle," one of Jaco's favorite Herbie Hancock tunes, features Graves' current lineup playing around a bass track originally recorded by Jaco at a live gig on Sanibel Island in the late 1970s. In many cases, additional arrangements are provided by Larry Warrilow, former guitarist with Graves' orchestra and Jaco's longtime friend and collaborator.
Word of Mouth Revisited is possibly the most impressive lineup of bass virtuosity ever assembled to date. Still, the recording is first and foremost about Jaco Pastorius.
"I think people need to get a taste of what Jaco did to really understand what the bass is supposed to be like and what jazz composition is supposed to be like," says Veasley. "He was very daring in his approach to the instrument, and there will never be another one like him."
The CD boasts 8 videos with interviews and much more. Jaco Pastorius Big Band Word Of Mouth Revisited is also being released as and SACD in 5.1 surround sound HUSA9078.