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Jaco Pastorius: Live in New York City, Volume 7

There is a sizable contingent out there wanting to scream out to self-made entrepreneur Neil Weiss: “Enough already!” I mean, after all…seven volumes of badly recorded club dates is more than any self-respecting music lover really needs. Jaco fanatics, of course, will gobble up this stuff because although there is endless overlap (yet another version of “Teen Town,” another “Dolphin Dance,” “Fannie Mae,” “Dania,” “If You Could See Me Now,” ad infinitum), Weiss has been clever enough to include at least one new track on each compilation, as is the case with Vols. 6 & 7. The sound quality still sucks, but with fanatics and hardcore collectors that is almost beside the point. The sound sucks on some of my favorite Charlie Parker recordings (Bird At St. Nick’s on Fantasy, One Night In Chicago on Savoy) but I still regard them as gems.

I welcomed Vols. 1 & 2 for the sheer nostalgia of it all. Like Weiss, I attended just about every Pastorius performance around New York between 1983 and 1986. I just didn’t carry a Walkman into the club with me and hit the record button when each set began. There was even a bit of variety on Vols. 3 & 4, which featured some unlikely covers like Coltrane’s “Naima” and “Equinox,” Eddie Harris’ “Freedom Jazz Dance” and Joe Zawinul’s Mercy, Mercy, Mercy. Vol. 5, which was in fact a Steve Slagle/Mike Stern gig with Jaco substituting for bassist Jeff Andrews, was a rare glimpse at the chemistry that Jaco had with guitarist Stern and drummer Adam Nussbaum. The only thing new and different on Vol. 6 is “Beaver Patrol,” which is basically a James Brown-ish funk vamp that leads into an extended solo drum showcase by Kenwood Dennard. Plus, the lineup here is precisely the same as what appeared on Vols. 1 & 3-Butch Thomas and Alex Foster on saxes, Jerry Gonzalez on trumpet and conga, Hiram Bullock on guitar, Delmar Brown on synthesizer, Michael Gerber on piano. Vol. 7, a trio with guitarist Bullock and drummer Victor Lewis, is a reprise of Vol. 2 with the inclusion of previously unreleased material like Lewis’ composition “Agaya,” a funky/sloppy rendition of Freddie Hubbard’s “Straight Life” and Bullock’s “History.”

Like the private Dean Benedetti tapes of Charlie Parker performances from 1948 that Mosaic finally put out a few years back, Jaco seems to be playing well on these Weiss tapes. But the performances reveal no new secrets and add nothing new to his legacy.

The bulk of Weiss’ material for all seven volumes of his Live in New York City series seems to be drawn from a single, solitary year. And 1985, by the way, was not the best year in Jaco’s stellar career. Too bad Weiss didn’t have that omnipresent Walkman rolling a couple of years earlier when Jaco was hitting it hard in New York clubs like the old Lone Star Cafe and Birdland West with his 14-piece Word of Mouth big band. Now that would’ve been something to document for the ages.

Meanwhile, until Weiss comes up with something new from some other period besides 1985, I’m going to have to join the chorus of “Enough already!”

Originally Published