Ok. Are you scratching your head yet? How does a movie about a jazz fusion bass player have anything to do with Metallica? Well, let me explain. The movie was produced and financed by non other than the bassist for Metallica, Robert Trujillo. Like a ton of bassists, Robert was inspired by Jaco Pastorius, so he felt that he had to tell his story.
The movie is a collection of photographs, super 8 video, old interviews, live footage, and commentary from relatives, friends, fellow musicians, and bassists that were influenced by Jaco.
Jaco early on in the film is seen as a family man that saved his money and sent it home. He didn’t party like many fellow musicians did in the early days. He let his music do the talking. He was said to have a great ego, and whenever he would introduce himself he always added that he was the greatest bass player in the world. That’s how he introduced himself to Bobby Colomby from Blood, Sweat & Tears. When Bobby heard Jaco play, he immediately brought him to New York to record his self-titled debut.
Next Jaco introduced himself the same way to Joe Zawinul. Joe didn’t believe him until he heard him. Then Joe let the bassist from Weather Report, Alphonso Johnson hear Jaco. Alphonso immediately knew his job in Weather Report was over and so he moved on. Jaco joined Weather Report and the fireworks began almost immediately. Jaco and Joe were like oil and vinegar, or as Robert Thomson Jr., the band’s percussionist puts it “Two cobras in a very small cage.”
Later on Joni Mitchell was looking for a bass player to play the notes she wanted since her bass player refused to do so. He told her of a dude in Florida that already plays like that, so she recruited Jaco. His stage presence in her band was amazing. However, he stepped over the bounds in her eyes. He would mess with her mic, and her mix to make himself be the star. He would take extra long solos. This was amazing for the fans, but caused a riff in the band.
Next the film starts to deal with the darker side of Jaco. He was acting stranger as time went on. Hanging around studios for days on end. Flea(Red Hot Chili Peppers) mentions in the film he saw Jaco out in the streets of New York playing for change. He is committed to Bellevue and is diagnosed as having Bipolar Disorder. After leaving Bellevue he travels back to Florida where he eventually ends up living in a park. We find the tragic tale of Jaco trying to go onstage at a Santana concert and later that night being beaten outside of a Florida nightclub. He eventually succumbs to his injuries from the beating.
This was a very good film. It will be a great film to watch if you are a Jaco fan, but it will also bring the music of this great bassist to light for a lot of new fans.