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Half an anthology just isn't enough

Punk Jazz: The Jaco Pastorius Anthology
Punk Jazz: The Jaco Pastorius Anthology
By Jaco Pastorius

Rhino / Warner Bros.: 2003

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This review first appeared in the May 28, 2003 issue of Fahrenheit San Diego.

Dying young and tragically (beaten to death by a bouncer at age 35) allowed Jaco Pastorius to be elevated to jazz godhood. But if he's largely forgotten today by all but the hardest jazzsters, his once-revolutionary approach to the electric bass shouldn't be forgotten – he and Stanley Clarke created the modern electric bass sound in the '70s.

A new two-disc set from Rhino holds out the promise of illuminating his contributions to jazz, rock and everything that's followed – but falls short.

The problem? Lawyers.

See, some, maybe most, of Jaco's heaviest playing was with the Weather Report combo in the late '70s – and only one track from those efforts is included here (the huge hit "Birdland"). Weather Report was on Columbia/Sony; Rhino is owned by Warner Bros.

His work with Joni Mitchell, Pat Metheny and Flora Purim is all nice, his solo work interesting but uneven – but without the Weather Report stuff, this collection is only half an anthology. Wait for a box set on Weather Report if you want to hear Jaco at his twisted genius best.