Truth, Liberty & Soul: Live In NYC, The Complete 1982 Jazz Alive Recordings

Jaco Pastorius

Resonance, 2017

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Jaco Pastorius (1951-1987) was one of the more influential bass players of the last half of the 20th century. His fusion of Latin funk with jazz, his use and development of harmonics, and his innovations with a fretless electric bass set him apart from his contemporaries and influenced a generation of bass players who followed him.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Over his career, he worked as a sideman and a frontman. Check out his work on Joni Mitchell’s four jazz oriented albums (1976-1980), as a member of Weather Report (1976-1981), and as the leader of his own group.

Pastorius recorded his second solo album in 1980, titled Word Of Mouth. On June 27th, 1982, he brought his Word Of Mouth band, harmonica player Toots Thielmanns, and a bevy of brass players for the concert at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City. Parts of the concert were broadcast on radio, but now 30 years later, the entire performance is being released.

Truth, Liberty & Soul: Live In NYC, The Complete 1982 NPR Jazz Alive Recordings is over two hours of Pastorius at his innovative and groundbreaking best. The two-CD edition includes a 100-page book and 19 essays and interviews. The sound has been remastered, which gives it a wonderful clarity.

Pastorius’ live performance finds him in a rare big band setting. Listening to songs such as “Sophisticated Lady” and “I Shot The Sheriff” take on new textures when a bass is the lead instrument.  The 14-minute extravaganza “Bass And Drum Improvisation” is the Holy Grail for just about any bass player. When Thielmann’s harmonica is added to the mix, it adds a unique counterpoint to his bass.

Jaco’s studio albums are always a treat, but this live album is an exploration of his musical vision. The live setting and his spontaneous improvisations are a perfect setting to appreciate just how innovative a musician he was, and this album captures him at the height of his power. Truth, Liberty, & Soul: Live In NYC is a must for jazz aficionados and bass players in particular.

Rating: A-

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