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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released March 24, 1993 | Epic - Legacy

It's impossible to hear Jaco Pastorious' debut album today as it sounded when it was first released in 1976. The opening track -- his transcription for fretless electric bass of the bebop standard "Donna Lee" -- was a manifesto of virtuosity; the next track, the funk-soul celebration "Come On, Come Over" was a poke in the eye to jazz snobs and a love letter to the R&B greats of the previous decade (two of whom, Sam & Dave, sing on that track); "Continuum" was a spacey, chorus-drenched look forward to the years he was about to spend playing with Weather Report. The program continues like that for three-quarters of an hour, each track heading off in a different direction -- each one a masterpiece that would have been a proud achievement for any musician. What made Jaco so exceptional was that he was responsible for all of them, and this was his debut album. Beyond his phenomenal bass technique and his surprisingly mature compositional chops (he was 24 when this album was released), there was the breathtaking audacity of his arrangements: "Okonkole Y Trompa" is scored for electric bass, French horn, and percussion, and "Speak Like a Child," which Pastorious composed in collaboration with pianist Herbie Hancock, features a string arrangement by Pastorious that merits serious attention in its own right. For a man with this sort of kaleidoscopic creativity to remain sane was perhaps too much to ask; his gradual descent into madness and eventual tragic death are now a familiar story, one which makes the bright promise of this glorious debut album all the more bittersweet. (This remastered reissue adds two tracks to the original program: alternate takes of "(Used to Be a) Cha Cha" and "6/4 Jam"). ~ Rick Anderson
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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released November 27, 2015 | Columbia - Legacy

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Jazz - Released June 3, 2008 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Bassist Jaco Pastorius' Word of Mouth orchestra was an unfulfilled dream, a worthy concept that did not last long enough to live up to its potential. Its debut album was released without a listing of the personnel, so here it is: Wayne Shorter, Michael Brecker, and Tom Scott on reeds, trumpeter Chuck Findley, the easily recognizable Toots Thielemans on harmonica, Howard Johnson on tuba, drummers Jack DeJohnette and Peter Erskine, and percussionist Don Alias. The music ranges from the Beatles' "Blackbird" and some Bach to Jaco originals that cover straight-ahead jazz, Coltrane-ish vamps, and fusion. Next to the bassist/leader, Thielemans emerges as the main voice. ~ Scott Yanow
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Jazz - Released October 13, 2014 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

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Jazz - Released October 18, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Electric bassist Jaco Pastorius' Word of Mouth big band made two recordings for Warner Bros. during its short life, of which is this is the superior one. The large ensemble (five trumpets including Randy Brecker, five reeds with solo space for Bobby Mintzer on tenor and soprano, four trombones, two French horns, Toots Thielemans on harmonica, drummer Peter Erskine, percussionist Don Alias, and Othello on steel drum) performs a variety of superior material. Although Pastorius takes his share of solo space, and the sound of a big band backing a bass soloist is rather unusual, he does not excessively dominate the music. Pastorius contributed some of the pieces (most notably "Liberty City"), is showcased on "Amerika," and also plays such tunes as "Invitation," "The Chicken," "Sophisticated Lady," "Giant Steps," and Gil Evans' "Eleven." ~ Scott Yanow
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Pop/Rock - Released June 22, 2007 | Columbia - Legacy

The Essential Jaco Pastorius collects tracks the innovative jazz bassist recorded during the '70s and '80s. Included here are cuts off Pastorius' two studio albums as well as some of the work he did with the seminal fusion outfit Weather Report. Also featured are recordings he made with other artists including Herbie Hancock and Joni Mitchell. As a two-disc anthology, this is a hard collection to pass up and certainly includes all of the most well-known of Pastorius' recordings, not the least of which are his 1976 take on Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee," Weather Report's "Birdland," and the Mitchell tune "Hejira." You also get such stellar tracks as the frenetic "River People" and the iconic "Punk Jazz" both from Weather Report's 1978 album Mr. Gone. As a well-rounded representation of Pastorius' unique genius during the high-point of his career, The Essential Jaco Pastorius is superb listen. ~ Matt Collar
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Jazz - Released February 3, 2017 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

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Jazz - Released June 3, 2008 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Originally taped for a Japanese television broadcast, and not intended for sale, the Twins Tour bootleg video features great camera work and editing. The performances are uniformly solid, but in a big-band setting, only a handful of musicians get to step up for solos. These solos, though, are superior. The featured Word of Mouth players in this 40-minute videotape include Othello Molineaux (steel pans), Bob Mintzer (reeds), Randy Brecker (trumpet), Toots Thielemans (harmonica), and David Bargeron (tuba). Molineaux is a standout, soloing often throughout the concert. Jaco takes center stage on a truncated rendition of "Continuum" and performs a beautiful, languid duet with Thielemans on "Sophisticated Lady." All five compositions on this videotape are included on the recently released Twins Tour double CD and its single-disc companion, Invitation. ~ David Ross Smith
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Vocal Jazz - Released January 9, 2019 | Reborn recordings

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Vocal Jazz - Released January 9, 2019 | Reborn recordings