“The thing about Jaco,” said Robert Trujillo to a capacity crowd at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles Sunday night, “is that the jazz community loved him, the rock community loved him, the punk rock community loved him—everybody loved him. Gospel, soul, funk, and everything else—it’s all there in Jaco—and that’s what’s so beautiful, and that’s what I want to share with everyone around the world.”
It is for the reasons Trujillo listed that so many different styles of music were represented amongst the event’s 1,600 attendees. Bass legends from every genre and every generation came to support Trujillo as he premiered the documentary he co-produced with Jaco Pastorius’s eldest son, John Pastorius IV.
A dramatic chronicling of the spectacular ascent and tragic downfall of the world’s most influential bassist, the film is simply titled Jaco.
“I am so happy to be here with Robert in front of his family,” said Pastorius IV to the audience before the screening. “And my little brother Felix is going to play for you later. I’m getting choked up.”
Walking into the lobby before doors opened, the first person I saw was a bassist who influenced Pastorius profoundly—jazz/R&B legend Jerry Jemmott. A moment later, in walked someone whom Pastorius influenced profoundly—rock legend Billy Sheehan.
Before long, the theater’s lobby was overflowing with notable bassists, including Jaco’s son Felix Pastorius, Flea, Alphonso Johnson, Darryl Jones, Lee Sklar, Rudy Sarzo, Mike Inez, Rickey Minor, Tony Franklin, Verdine White, Tal Wilkenfeld, Phil Chen, Rhonda Smith, Ethan Farmer, Armand Sabel-Lecco, Stuart Hamm, Brett Simons, Robert DeLeo, Amir Zitro, John Spiker, Neil Stubenhaus, Juan Alderete, Bjorn Englen, Josh Paul, Marten Andersson, Mike Bendy, Nick Hexum, Scott Reeder, and, of course, Trujillo himself.
Most in attendance had yet to see Jaco, which is directed by Stephen Kijak and Paul Marchand (the latter of whom was introduced and thanked by Trujillo on stage before the screening), though a handful of the bassists in attendance were interviewed for the film.
After the screening, I gathered opinions and found the consensus to be near unanimous on several counts. First of all, cinematically speaking, the musician-heavy crowd generally felt the documentary was excellently crafted.
“Robert is a really good bassist, and his career as a film producer has just begun,” enthused Alphonso Johnson, who played bass in Weather Report until 1976, when Pastorius began his famous tenure in the band.
Secondly, many in attendance appeared moved that Trujillo—perennially busy recording and touring with Metallica—would invest years of his own time and much of his personal resources to make the film. In the music community, Jaco stands as a mammoth humanitarian gesture on Trujillo's part.
Thirdly, recurring comments such as “About time!” and “Finally!” indicated collective relief that a Pastorius documentary had finally been made.
Most of all, though, patrons were moved by seeing the amazing life, music, and performances of Jaco Pastorius—all of which the documentary chronicles vividly—brought so clearly into focus.
Now available for purchase in DVD and Blu-Ray formats, Jaco features interviews with many legendary musicians, including Wayne Shorter, Bootsy Collins, Joni Mitchell, Sting, Herbie Hancock, Geddy Lee, Carlos Santana, and others.
After the screening, Trujillo held an all-star concert that opened with a set by Felix Pastorius and his band, Hipster Assassins (also featuring Mike Bendy on bass), who performed several songs, including the famous Jaco Pastorius/Weather Report bass tour de force, "Teen Town."
Then, Trujillo took the stage with his own group, Mass Mental, and was joined by Flea, Jerry Jemmott, Armand Sabel-Lecco, Billy Idol, Steve Stevens, Corey Glover, Whitfield Crane, Stevie Salas, Brooks Wackerman, and others.
The evening was an epic celebration of Jaco Pastorius, and it was all sparked one night in 1979 when a young, teenaged Trujillo attended a concert at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.
“I witnessed something that night that I’ll never forget,” Trujillo told the audience. “I saw Jaco Pastorius with Weather Report, and it really changed my life. The thing that was so interesting about it, even beyond the composer and the incredible bass player, was the performance itself—the stage presence Jaco had.
“Jaco actually set his bass down, and then, from across the stage, he ran up to it and slid into it like he was sliding into home plate, and it was so beautiful. I’d never seen that done ever in my life. It made me realize that you can be fearless. When you’re making music, there are no rules, no boundaries.”
The 7:30pm, Dec 2nd JACO screening sold-out and a second Dec 2nd screening has been added at 8pm. Both screenings include an in-person Q&A with Robert Trujillo, Johnny Pastorius, Paul Marchand and Bill Milkowski. Tickets are on-sale now: http://j.mp/1kU0tmr