Acoustic Sounds

Jaco Pastorius

Truth, Liberty & Soul



Jaco Pastorius Truth, Liberty & Soul

Label: 2xHDRE-V1243

Produced By: Tim Owens (original recordings)

Engineered By: Paul Blakemore

Mixed By: Paul Blakemore

Mastered By: René Laflamme

Lacquers Cut By: Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering

By: Michael Fremer

June 13th, 2024


Jazz Big Band



Jaco Brought His Word of Mouth Big Band to Avery Fisher Hall and All Musical Hell Broke Loose

New York's finest showed up and they weren't the police!

Bill Minkowski's excellent annotation sets the stage. For various reasons both musical and otherwise Jaco and Joe Zawinul had a falling out and Jaco chose to devote more time to his Word of Mouth big band project (referred to a few times in the notes here as the "World of Mouth" big band). There's more detail in the annotation but the main result of the falling out was that Weather Report went one way and Pastorious (and drummer Peter Erskine) went the other.

For his 30th birthday on December 1, 1981 Pastorius threw a party at Mr. Pips nightclub in Fort Lauderdale where he debuted his new Word of Mouth band drawing on musician friends from both coasts and Florida. The group then played in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and finally in New York at the Savoy Theater. Even though the band had played these previous dates, Milkowski, in attendance, said the crowd "audibly gasped" as the curtain opened to reveal a big band because rumors swirled about a Hendrix Experience type power trio. Given the previous few nights across the country this doesn't make sense to me but whatever. True there was no Internet but there were phones and a network of jazz enthusiasts. Makes for a good story though, whether true or not.

This recording is of the June 27th 1982 Avery Fisher Hall performance, which was part of George Wein's Kool Jazz Festival broadcast on NPR. Everyone here knows Avery, right? And that it's now Geffen hall. This band included New York "A-Listers" including Jon Faddis, Lew Soloff among others and saxophonists Frank Wess, Howard Johnson (who was also well known on tuba but here David Bargeron played it) and Bob Mintzer and Randy Brecker, among many others. Othello Molineaux played steel pans and Toots Thielemans...I don't have to write what he played. So, it was big and eclectic mix of new plus Don Alias, percussion and Peter Erskine on drums.

Pastorius anchors with an iron rhythmic grip throughout, growling large, thunderous, impossibly fast, churning furious lines on bottom and swirling bee-like ones high up on the neck. Heavily percussive and punctuated with stinging big band blasts and tinkling fills by Molineaux's steel pans, this is not like your father's version of a big band! It's more like Weather Report on steroids (or coke) throughout much of the concert with the nervous energy level almost never letting down even a few notches.

The arrangement inventiveness and rhythmic frenzy overwhelms in a dazzling, dynamic, uber-percussive display of instrumental and often exotic musical power combining jazz, the tropics, Afro-Cuban rhythms and a world music swirl that needs to be played loud for full musical effect.

Highlights (there are no lowlights)? Fro percussive excitement try "Okonkolé Y Trompa by Don Alias and Pastorious. For Weather Report like grooves there's Bob Mintzer's "Mr. Fonebone" and for just plain exciting big band blasts there's the "Reza/Giant Steps" medley and for pure funk there's "The Chicken", which in places does take breaks that might remind you of your father's big band or maybe BS&T.

The "Sophisticated Lady" cover featuring Toots and Jaco is another highlight that takes things down to an intimate simmer following side one's opener Bronislaw Kaper's "Invitation". Pastorius plays deep chorded notes—and if your system goes deep you'll feel as well as hear it—while Thielemans bright shimmering harmonica provides a perfect foil to the almost impish growl. So much fun and the audience lets the duo know how much it appreciates what the two are doing. There's an unidentified vocalist on the full blues tilt "Fannie Mae" that's the actual concert closer but here appears as side B's closer because in order to max out the contents onto three 45rpm discs the running order had to be changed, though the set opens with the appropriately titled "Invitation".

The concert actually ran more than two hours (forty minutes of it were neither broadcast or released until recently) and its available from Resonance Records. That edition on CD now discounted to $17.98 includes Includes "a massive 100-Page book with NINETEEN written pieces! Essays by Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo, producer Zev Feldman, Jaco Pastorius authority Bill Milkowski, original recording engineer Paul Blakemore; plus interviews with Jaco's son John Pastorius, musicians Peter Erskine, Bob Mintzer, Randy Brecker, and more."

So there's that. One Tracking Angle reader complained about its "awful sound", but that's not the case here for sure. Paul Blakemore was the original engineer and he remixed to digital from the 24 track for the CD issue, but according to 2xHD, there was an original two track analog tape mix from 1982 that had been lost for more than thirty years was found and this triple LP set was sourced from "a direct copy" of that tape.

Before I get to that, the sonic perspective here is not "on stage" or "fifth row" bur rather from mid-front hall —kind of where I had my New York Philharmonic subscription which was row 20 dead center. it's a convincing perspective that puts you i the seat in the hall but it works best if you crank it way up and then it's fantastic. I will bring one of the records to future shows and play it only on the big systems, where it will surely impress listeners.

The hall sound behind and around the band is very present and Jaco's amplified bass effectively growls and purrs in great focus. The horn sound is addictive and the steel drums sound vibrant with well-focused transient attack. The Word of Mouth Big band features eight members: Pastorius, Mintzer, Brecker, Molineaux, Alias and Erskine augmented by seventeen additional players including five saxophones, five trumpets, three trombones two french horns and a cartridge in a pear tree. Plus tube and Toots. When the horns go full-tilt you'll perk up!

Now here are the questions I hope René will answer when he reads this (I choose to post it now and add comments later). If this is an AAA release (is it?) and he's working from a copy of the 2 track master, is he "mastering" on his 2xHD FUSION MASTERING SYSTEM and generating a 3rd gen tape for cutting? Or is he making a high resolution digital file from the tape for Chris Bellman to cut? The language is really "iffy": "2xHD VINYL are sourced from first generation analog recordings without any digital corruption. The cutting is done at Bernie Grundman Mastering Lab on tube cutting equipment".

That's 100% unclear. Firstly, the press release from which I posted a story back in March, 2024 says it was cut from a "direct copy" of the original tape but it also says it was "...mastered by René Laflamme sourced from first generation analog recordings."

Honestly I really don't know what all of that means. I do know it sounds great but for $120 we want to know everything. Plus on the website it claims the 3 45rpm records run "more than 130 minutes" but I count about 69:15 What is going on here?

Mr. Laflamme Clarifies

The running time on the website reflects the information that was provided by the label and of course referred to the CD so that will be updated. Mr. Laflamme didn't realize that running time had been posted. He responded that all of vinyl releases are from tapes. Most of the time it is session tapes that have to be assembled into running masters. As on this project.

Playback is via a Nagra T recorder into a Doshi tube tape head amplifier and then if need be to get it to sound as he wants (tube EQ or compressor or EMT plate) and the resulting signal goes to a custom, new Nagra IVS 1/4" recorder with a direct input stage using vacuum tubes and battery power. The edited master copies go to Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman for mastering. So the chain is AAA. These tapes had been mixed down from the analog 24 tracks using Dolby A, so following baking a Dolby A 301 was used for playback.

The jacket notes were taken directly from the CD edition so include "sound restoration by George Klabin and Fran Gala", but that has nothing to do with this release.

More also: these are at best 180g records, not 200g as advertised and more annoying is that the notes include all of the concert's songs not just the ones included in the 69 minutes and that leads to a great deal of confusion as you listen and read along, never mind the two "World of Mouth" typos and Milkowski's notes for the CD release have been reused here though they don't comport with either the actual running order of the included songs. Since Minkowski's annotation is almost a concert "play by play", it would not have been too difficult to restructure them to fit the vinyl running order and omit the missing tracks. The direct board triple gatefold jacket is adequate but not great. You're not being asked to drop $99.99 here, but rather $120.00, though it's true that a great deal of work went into producing these AAA records. At least I can report that the three records were perfectly flat and perfectly pressed and the sound was great! If you drop the $120 I do not think you will be disappointed by either the music or the sound.

Music Specifications

Catalog No: 2xHDRE-V1243


Speed/RPM: 45

Weight: 180 grams

Size: 12"

Channels: Stereo

Source: Original two track analog master tape

Presentation: Multi LP


  • 2024-06-13 07:16:44 PM

    Come on wrote:

    I was the reader complaining and to be honest, I have no idea what went wrong in my setup or with my ears this day. Listening to that DSD128 release today, I agree with your review, it sounds just fine.

    If, compared to the best ever recordings (11) it’s really a 9 or not, doesn’t matter now.

    • 2024-06-13 08:10:26 PM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      Thanks for the response. I got the production details from René and am updating it now

  • 2024-06-24 03:00:04 AM

    John Lewis wrote:

    I have the RSD 3-LP, 33 1/3, Resonance Records version of this: HLP-9027B. "Transferred from the original 24-track tapes"

    Anyone had a chance to compare this with the 45-rpm version??