This is Jazz 40: Weather Report – The Jaco Years (1998)

[Kronomyth 15.5]
Ah, What Shall We Be at Forty?

The Martyr’s uncorruptible body of work, on digital display with ten pretty seraphim named Havona, Barbary, etcetera. This Is Jazz (the series) sought to set it all down for posterity: Miles in several guises, Billie Holiday and Art Blakey, Charles Mingus and Duke Ellington. Weather Report became the tenth name in the magickal numerology, Shorter sooner rather than later at (hey!) 19 and the ghost of Jaco here at marker 40. Jaco wasn’t merely one of the great fusion bass players; he was one of the great fusion players period. He took an instrument synonymous with understatement and created a whole new musical lexicon with it. Jaco could bend it smooth (“A Remark You Made”), twist it into fantastic and groovy shapes (“Teen Town”) or smack you in the face with it (“Punk Jazz”). Pastorius was closest in spirit to Zawinul, since both were interested in expanding the language of jazz with new sounds, of fusing the traditional with the nontraditional. Whether “The Jaco Years” is a banner the band would be comfortable under, well, no. By drawing all of Jaco’s compositions onto a single disc, The Jaco Years is speculative history. Weather Report never released an album like this, and wouldn’t make the case that Mr. Gone or Night Passage (each contributing two tracks) represent the best of Weather Report. As you might expect, This is Jazz/10 has better Weather, while This Is Jazz/40 serves as a collection of songs in consideration of Jaco’s canonization. It’s hard not to concede the miraculous at work on a “Port of Entry,” or marvel at the concentrated funk in the fingertips that deliver the bass lines on “Barbary Coast.” As a composer, Jaco was primarily a bass player, but as a bass player he had no equal. This is the Gospel According to Jaco, six years of serendipity when jazz titans roamed the earth and left heavy weather in their wake.

The Songs
1. Punk Jazz (5:08)
2. River People (4:50)
3. A Remark You Made (live) (Joe Zawinul) (8:00)
4. Havona (6:00)
5. Three Views of a Secret (5:52)
6. Teen Town (live) (6:05)
7. Speechless (Jow Zawinul) (5:57)
8. Port of Entry (live) (Wayne Shorter) (5:07)
9. Barbary Coast (3:07)
10. Slang (Bass Solo) (live) (4:48)

All compositions by Jaco Pastorius unless noted.

The Players
Jaco Pastorius (fretless electric bass, drums, tympani, voice), Wayne Shorter (tenor and soprano saxophones), Joe Zawinul (keyboards, synthesizers, ARP and Prophet synthesizers, Oberheim Polyphonic & ARP 2600 synthesizers, Prophet V synthesizer, Quadra bass, piano) with Alex Acuna (drums), Peter Erskine (drums), Robert Thomas, Jr. (hand drums), Tony Williams (drums), Eric Zawinul (percussion). Project director: Seth Rothstein.

The Pictures
Art direction by Howard Fritzson. Cover design by Alice Butts. Graphic artist: Ken Fredette. Photography by Sandy Speiser/Sony Music Archives. Liner notes by James Isaacs.

The Plastic
Released on compact disc on April 28, 1998 in the US (Columbia Legacy, CK 65451).

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