Jaco Pastorius – In New York 1985

Live Performance Of Jaco Pastorius
My Copy Of Jaco Pastorius In New York 1985

Amazing, this is another one of my many CDs which I haven’t listened to in a very long time. When you look at the picture, you might have to enlarge it, you’ll notice the price tag says DM 39.95 – DM stands for German Marks.

Jaco Pastorius In New York is a double CD live album which was recorded in November 1985. By listening to the gig you can literally feel the small club atmosphere which is phenomenal. At times things get very loud and heavy and I can only imagine how the audience must have felt, they probably got a good blast wired right into their ears.

Before I go into more detail, here is the track list:

Disc 1:

1. Dania, 10:02
2. I Shot The Sheriff 7:56
3. Continuum, 5:24
4. Punk Jazz, 17:21
5. Promise Land, 8:28
6. Teen Town, 11:33

Disc 2:

1. Dear Prudence, 5:57
2. Why I Sing The Blues, 5:00
3. N.Y.C. Groove #2, 4:34
4. Son Of Creeper, 9:31
5. Invitation, 10:35
6. Three Views Of A Secret, 7:21
7. Naima, 3:44

Here is a list of the folks who played during that performance:

Jaco Pastorius – electric bass
Hiram Bullock – electric guitar
Kenwood Dennard – drums
Alex Foster – saxophone
Butch Thomas – saxophone
Delmar Brown – synthesizer
Michael Gerber – acoustic piano
Jerry Gonzalez – trumpet, congas

Obviously, we are talking about jazz, but I listened to the whole thing twice today and just calling it jazz wouldn’t really describe it adequately, just because there are so many different influences mingled together: funk, rock, hard rock, blues, reggae, punk – well, I guess you could all it Punk Jazz, just like one of the titles. But I would opt for fusion jazz. While all of the songs obviously have a theme, all musicians take their space for plenty of improvisation and experimenting. At times I felt they kind of lost the silver lining, but then they just came back together, and I guess that’s exactly what makes good jazz musicians.

While the title of the CD suggests that Jaco Pastorius is the frontman, listening to the tracks it is pretty clear that this is a shared effort between him and that monster on the guitar named Hiram Bullock. I am ashamed that I have to make another confession here, I think I actually never heard of him before. I had to do a little bit of research and apparently Hiram Bullock was no no-name and had I a little bit more knowledge of jazz, I would probably not look like a complete idiot now. Hiram played with many of the great individuals, including Pat Metheny, Steve Morse, David Sanborn, Paul Simon, Harry Belafonte, Marcus Miller, Miles Davis, etc. And you can tell, he’s not your ‘typical’ jazz guitarist, there’s for instance a lot of Hendrix in his playing – and I am not only saying that because one of the songs actually ends on a heavy version of the Star Spangled Banner.

Jaco Pastorius’ bass, however, is definitely very audible and omnipresent throughout the whole concert, as it rightly should. Because even I as a guitarist who is not super familiar with jazz – but definitely appreciates it more and more – thoroughly enjoyed listening to his lines and chord progressions. Yet, I never got under the impression that Jaco tried to claim the stage for himself – he takes the lead when appropriate and leaves his bandmates enough space to shine.

My favorite tunes are probably “Son of Creeper” and “Why I sing the Blues”, but it’s hard to single out certain tracks, I think this a good example of a real album that you need to listen to as a whole. If you’re brand new to the world of jazz, I recommend you put “Jaco Pastorius In New York” on the backburner for a little while as it might be a little too ‘heavy’ – but other than that, go for it. It was a lot of fun listening and it’s absolutely amazing what these guys can do on their instruments. Brian Linse, who wrote up a summary of this performance said: “From the opening romp of Dania this is a party. It’s pure fun. So turn it up, close your eyes and take a seat at the club with Jaco, Hiram and Woody. Who know what will happen next?” Well said!

The CD is available through the Guitar Shop, here is a link.


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