Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Let's have a birthday jam: Jaco Pastorius

No, it's not the late Jaco Pastorius' birthday today.  But it is coming up this Saturday, and when I think of birthday jams, I think a lot about Jaco, the jazz fusion bass guitar giant.

Jaco knew how to throw a birthday party.  For his 30th birthday in 1981, nearly six years before his untimely death, Pastorius put on a birthday concert at a club in Fort Lauderdale.  He brought in musicians from his Word Of Mouth project, along with other big names like Don Alias and Michael Brecker.  Thankfully, the event was recorded, intended as a birthday gift for Jaco.  In 1995, it was released on an album.  I have that album, and it's a stellar bit of big band jazz and fusion mixed together.

My favorite part of that album is the "soul intro," leading into "The Chicken."  Which leads me into a story about another birthday jam from last New Year's Eve that I was able to attend, with a bunch of fine musicians having a ton of fun on a friend's birthday.  I had a hard time prying myself away from the steady flow of music, but there came a time when nature did call and I had to leave the room and go to another corner of the house where the party was being held.

As luck or fate would have it, as I was away from the action, the group launched into Pastorius' "The Chicken."  I rushed to finish my business as soon as I heard those familiar notes.  That was one song I didn't want to miss, and the friends nailed it.

Jaco would have been pleased.

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