Jaco Pastorius Big Band: Word of Mouth Revisited

The tribute album Word of Mouth Revisited (Heads Up), by the Jaco Pastorius Big Band, is akin to a Hollywood film bio that uses someone who looks and acts like the departed subject. In no way can the original be duplicated. For this well-meaning and often slick project, trombonist Peter Graves-in whose Ft. Lauderdale band Pastorius underwent an invaluable five years of basic training before graduating to Pat Metheny, Weather Report, Joni Mitchell, Blood, Sweat and Tears and his own band, Word of Mouth-rounded up as many of Jaco’s colleagues as he could.

Then he sprinkled nine outstanding, worshipful bassists who have been influenced by Pastorius to show how profoundly Jaco has changed the style and function of the bass: Victor Bailey, Richard Bona, Jeff Carswell, Jimmy Haslip, Christian McBride, Marcus Miller, David Pastorius (Jaco’s nephew), Gerald Veasley and Victor Wooten, with one track by Jaco himself, “Wiggle Waggle.” An attempt at connective word-of-mouth glue via occasional subliminal sound bites by Jaco fails. So does the tribute. For the most part, the guitarists are exhuming, not exploring; imitating, not innovating, which, after all, was the real essence of Pastorius.