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Robert Trujillo on “JACO”

Metallica bassist talks about producing the new doc on Pastorius' life and legacy

Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo (photo: Jeff Yeager)
Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter & Joe Zawinul, 1978. Peter Erskine: "I snapped this in a Shinkansen station; looks like Osaka."

Few films seem to define “labor of love” as accurately as JACO, the long-anticipated documentary on the trailblazing, tragic life of bass virtuoso Jaco Pastorius. Initiated by Pastorius’ kin and adopted by Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo, who became a producer with the family’s continuing input, the movie traversed three directors, many, many recuts and a gradual yet successful ascent on the festival circuit to reach its DVD/Blu-ray release on Nov. 27. (An official soundtrack album is also available.) The effort paid off, because JACO is essential viewing, featuring rare and previously unseen footage, photos and audio plus a deep bench of interviewees, including the bassist’s family, his vital collaborators (Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Joni Mitchell) and the rock and R&B celebrities (Carlos Santana, Sting, Flea, Geddy Lee, Bootsy Collins) who felt his influence profoundly. Most important, JACO balances Pastorius’ brilliance against his psychological unraveling with sensitivity and honesty.

We caught up with Trujillo in New York in September, where he held forth on the film and on his eclectic musical development in Los Angeles. A funk and fusion kid at heart, Trujillo, 51, also a veteran of Ozzy Osbourne’s band, Suicidal Tendencies and the groove-metal outfit Infectious Grooves, is an unintentional raconteur who turned a brief promotional Q&A into a near-two-hour tour through his personal jazz-rock history. Here are some highlights.

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