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Various Artists: Who Loves You? A Tribute to Jaco Pastorius

Jaco Pastorius was as brash and confident as they came, an innovative and challenging musician who, if anyone asked, would call himself the best bass player in the world. Almost 14 years after his death, the legend of Jaco continues to grow. This tribute, produced by Michael Colina, assembles players who jammed with Jaco on record and stage, and also those who were and continue to be inspired by his groundbreaking style.

Former bandmates Peter Erskine, Michael and Randy Brecker, Don Alias, David Sanborn, Mike Stern and Bob Mintzer all play with passion, as do bassists Victor Bailey (who replaced Jaco in Weather Report), Mark Egan, Will Lee, Marcus Miller, John Geus and John Patitucci.

Fittingly, the CD opens with Jimi Hendrix’s “Third Stone from the Sun.” Hendrix’s time was a few years before Jaco’s but Hendrix’s guitar was the same as Jaco’s bass: reckless, daring, uncompromising. Although Jaco could jam like a mother, he expressed many moments of tenderness, as invoked by Egan’s fretless bass on Joe Zawinul’s “A Remark You Made” and Bailey’s lead bass on Pastorius’ “Continuum” from Jaco’s debut solo album.

There are many more highlights, including the seldom-heard “Dania,” a free form and flying excursion with soaring sax lines from Mintzer. Two magical moments are fresh takes on Jaco’s best songs: “Three Views of a Secret” and “Portrait of Tracy,” the latter with Marcus Miller producing and playing all instruments. Sanborn’s sax is magical on “Song for Jaco-Song for a Friend.”

Of course, this isn’t a bass CD anymore than Jaco’s records were bass albums. It’s a jazz CD, with top jazz musicians infusing their own styles, from Bob James and Jeff “Train” Watts to Will Lee, saxophonist Bill Evans and Joey Calderazzo.

A bonus: Excellent liner notes from Jaco biographer Bill Milkowski.

Originally Published