Per IMDb: “‘JACO’ tells the story of Jaco Pastorius, a self-taught, larger-than-life musician who changed the course of modern music..”
John Francis Anthony Pastorius III, known to the world as “Jaco,” always professed that he was the greatest bass player in the world. That’s a monstrous claim; there are so many
great bass players in the world. However, I’d be pressed and probably fail miserably to say or prove he’s wrong. There’s the apples to apples analogy, the apples to oranges analogy and then there’s Jaco to bass players analogy. I have his 1977 solo album, a Weather Report greatest hits album both on CD and a Weather Report album on vinyl. It’s unlike anything else you’ve heard before and I don’t know if you’ll hear anything like it again.
This film, produced by Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo, is the life story of one of the most talented yet so troubled talents the music world has ever known. They touch a lot on his youth where his father basically was out doing his own thing, not only musically but in life and he and his brothers were left with their mother, which they adored, but missed the father figure. It touches, lightly on his relationship with Tracy Sexton, his wife and mother of his two children, which was strong, until it wasn’t.
After the breakup with Tracy, Jaco seemed to unravel, or least start to. He eventually had twins with second wife, Ingrid. That was another hit to his stability. He’d always avoided alcohol and drugs to focus on the music but after a while, he slipped from that lifestyle into a more destructive one. In addition to his alcoholism, he suffered from bipolar disorder and rapid cycling. That’s a bad combination, a potentially deadly one.
He had told his friends that he was done and was ready to not be here anymore. In September, 1987, medicated he jumped up on stage during a Santana concert and he was removed. Annoyed and not very lucid, Jaco wandered to an all-night club where he was refused entry. He kicked a glass door and started a physical altercation with a bouncer who proceeded to beat the life almost completely from his body. There was extensive damage to his eye and left arm and he was left in a coma. That eventually led to a brain hemorrhage that eventually took his life. Jaco Pastorius died on September 21, 1987. The bodyguard who essentially killed him was charged with second degree murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter. In the end, he only served about 4 months in jail. Incredible talent snuffed out, almost in an instant.
This film is a reminiscence as told by those who knew him well, played with him on various projects, was closest to him and who wanted to help him, not only in his musical journey but that wanted to keep him alive. They did what they could. Robert Trujillo counts Jaco as one of, if not the main influences in his career. Jaco’s style comes through in the playing of Flea, Geddy Lee, Victor Wooten, Victor Bailey, all which displayed as much in the film.
The film also gives great insight to how the man lived, how he loved his family, his parents, his music, his art. I never felt led in anyway to believe one thing or another, in this film. I felt, Trujillo allowed the story of Jaco breathe and organically gravitate me to admiration. As I said, I have a bit of his work and have always been fascinated with him.
I’ve joked in the past about some bass players making me want to turn my bass into a coffee table, but with Jaco, he makes me want to chop it up and make toothpicks out of it. I’m mostly joking. But, I found myself wanting to pause the film and go pick up one of my basses and practice, become better. I need to get me a fretless and hone that skill.
It had a limited run at our official movie sponsor, a/perture cinema. Rotten Tomatoes has it with no rating on the Tomatometer but it has an Audience Score of 75%. IMDb has it at 7.6 stars out of 10. I watched it on Netflix and I rate it 4 stars. There were parts that it drug a little but for the most part it kept me entertained and, as I said, inspired.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“I’d seen unbelievable things. But, the things I saw early were the same things I saw later that knocked me out: it’s his ability to communicate music to everyone including the average person.” – Randy Emerick on Jaco’s talents and abilities.