The Pastorius legend is well documented. His career was short. His life was troubled. His death was tragic. Yet, through his work with Pat Metheny, Weather Report and his own Word of Mouth group in the seventies and early eighties, this incredibly gifted musician became a major influence on fellow bassists and the jazz fusion movement.
This CD contains eleven tunes, nine by Pastorius. Most of the charts are by Dan Bonsanti and Larry Warrilow. They give the electric bass free rein and use all the colors of the orchestra. Bonsanti's arrangement of Joe Zawinul's "Cannonball" features Ed Calle on tenor and Billy Ross on soprano. You may even feel the presence of an alto player. Pat Metheny's "Stabhorn" is warm and majestic, highlighted by Mike Stern's guitar and the woodwinds.
The Pastorius opener, "Dania," swings right out with heat-generating contributions by Bob Mintzer and Randy Brecker. Toots Thielemans brings his plaintive eloquence on harmonica to "Las Olas" and there's a burning alto solo by Billy Ross on the funky "Beaver Patrol." Kuru/Speak Like a Child" contrasts the flying fingers of pianist Mike Levine and Jimmy Haslip on bass with the flugelhorn eloquence of Jason Carder. Ed Calle on soprano and Othello Molineaux on steel drums make "Good Morning, Anya" an easy-going welcoming of the day. "Blackbird/Word of Mouth" is colorful and whimsical over bass momentum by Richard Bona. It features a "wow!" performance by Arturo Sandoval.
I'm not surprised that many consider "Three Views of a Secret" to be Pastorius's greatest work. It is simply beautiful, and inspires heartful performances by Calle and Carder. Another gem is the return of Pastorius in the Peter Graves' re-orchestration of "Raza" with the band recorded around his dazzling performance of years ago.
Extensive liner notes for The Word is Out depict a web of connections. At the onset of Pastorius's career, he spent five years with the Peter Graves Orchestra in Fort Lauderdale. Graves is the organizer and conductor of the Jaco Pastorius Big Band and the co-producer of the CD. Many of the participants played with, or knew Pastorius. All were influenced by him. Jaco lives!