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World Music CD Reviews Jazz


Published June 4, 2006

Punk Jazz: The Jaco Pastorius Anthology

Rock ‘N’ Roll Rule #1: “Live fast, die young and leave a pretty corpse.” From 1972 until his death at 36 in ’87, electric bassist/composer supreme Jaco Pastorius followed that axiom to the letter, except for the “pretty corpse” part (he was beaten to death by a sadistic bouncer). Pastorius started playing electric bass at 16; by 18, he had “invented” the fretless bass. Eight years later, he had an eponymous solo debut on Epic and joined jazz fusion pioneers Weather Report. Between ’76 and ’83, Pastorius recorded four Weather Report LPs and three more solo joints for Warner Bros. Every electric bass player to come after owes him. The two-CD/28-track set Punk Jazz culls the cream of the above ventures as well as Japan-only big band tracks and revelatory guest shots with Little Beaver, Paul Bley, Airto, Pat Metheny, Flora Purim, Joni Mitchell, Michel Colombier and Mike Stern. From the bedroom-recorded version of Pee Wee Ellis’s funk bomb “The Chicken” (17 years old!) to “Birdland” to “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” to cool-ass originals like “John And Mary,” “Continuum,” “Liberty City,” “Okonkole’ Y Trompa” and the off-the-meter steel pan/marimba/vibraphone-choral-jazzed reggae of “Good Morning Anya,” Punk Jazz is the definitive overview of Jaco’s brilliant career.