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  • i watched this movie about Jaco Pastorius at the European premiere in Munich/Germany this week and did like it. As a hobby bassist i'm heavily influenced by Jaco and there's footage in the movie previously unseen. There's funny moments in the movie and many interviews from the musicians Jaco collaborated with as well as Jaco's brother and you'll hear also from Jaco's first wife Tracy and others who were close to him. The film accomplishes to draw attention to Jaco and make him aware to other people. It never accuses anybody of anything and stays neutral and objective. While as someone who plays bass i wished that more footage was included from his earlier days like how he changed from drums to bass and how he developed his technique, i'm grateful for the people who made this happen and showed lots of footage and people's views on Jaco Pastorius along with his great music and him being a pioneer changing the e-bass and influencing future generations of players.
  • Described by nme.com as "a four string demon", Jaco Pastorius was arguably the greatest electric bass guitarist to walk the earth since John Entwistle, and continues to hold a revered reputation amongst bassists across the world, including me. The news of a documentary and the release of the film's theatrical trailer tickled my anticipation to high levels, and I can proudly say that Robert Trujillo's 2015 passion project is a great representation of Jaco's career and personal life.

    Although normal moviegoers might not appreciate Jaco as a film, it should not be viewed as a mind-boggling piece of cinema, but rather a detailed lesson on one of the most influential musicians of all time. The essential purpose of a documentary is to educate the masses on a subject not commonly known. Jaco more than delivers as a refresher for fans and as a discovery for newcomers. It touches on most of the essential topics in Jaco's life: his youth, musical career, personal life, mental disorders, and most importantly, his legacy in the musical community. This intriguing and deeply personal story is represented through a wide variety of media, including photos, archive footage, interviews, and music. You might question the over-reliance on grainy Super 8 footage, but it nonetheless provides us to hours of unseen footage and concerts, showing that the filmmakers have really done their homework and respect the material they are handling. As far as their production values go, the style of the titles and montages is gorgeous and oozing with colour, while the high resolution, low depth-of-field shots showcase a level of professionalism for the most part.

    Jaco features dozens of famous musicians that offer words on this kingpin of the electric bass, including Flea, Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock and many more. Although the filmmakers fail to capitalise on the big-name bassists, such as Sting, Bootsy Collins, Geddy Lee and Victor Wooten, the undeniable influence of Jaco reverentially acknowledged by these musicians is humbling to listen to, propelling your appreciation of him even further. Moreover, the people who were most important in Jaco's life and/or those who knew him best are given longer amounts of screen time, and rightly so; the raw authenticity with which they describe Jaco and his demise propel the emotion of the film.

    No discussion of Jaco would be complete without mentioning its soundtrack, primarily (and appropriately) comprised of music composed and performed by Jaco himself. While the occasional leitmotifs from the soprano saxophone and the bass guitar harmonics feel a bit too monotonous, it is a very small complaint, because the symphonic-like arrangement of Jaco's countless compositions throughout the film is so intelligent and mathematical, and it is impossible not to feel chills when you hear the deus-like virtuosity of Jaco's playing. Coincidentally, the best Jaco compositions are the ones that are utilised the best in the film, such as Continuum, Portrait of Tracy, Donna Lee and Come On, Come Over, all of which happen to be from his eponymous debut album.

    We might view films as a means of escape and entertainment, but the really good ones are ones that manage to both distract and educate us. Jaco perfectly achieves both of these objectives, and while it is not as jaw-dropping as Whiplash, it is the perfect medium to transform anyone into a fan of Jaco Pastorius, a unique, tormented and unforgettable individual who reinvented the electric bass the same way Jimi Hendrix did with the guitar.
  • Jaco is a brilliant watch - anyone with a passing interest in music or artistic talent is always looking for clues to that elusive question What makes musical genius. Here, there are plenty of clues.

    Jaco Pastorius single-handedly changed the bass as an instrument - his decision to remove the frets of his electric bass because of the Florida humidity, not only changed the sound, but also the timbre of the instrument - and this documentary uses previously unseen footage to document that change - and the man behind it.

    Jaco has a great balance between interviews, footage, facts, and music - and for anyone who wonders where jazz went after Kind of Blue, without having to go through learning about Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman or Pharaoh Saunders, this kind of answers that question - it looks at fusion, and asks how rock and jazz came to live side by side.

    More than that it focuses on the man - this slender reed that was a ball of energy heading to self-destruction - and gets close to some real understanding of his motivations, his demons, and his genius. No mean achievement.

    This really does try to understand both the man and the music and it is a really fascinating, lively, and interesting watch. Definitely what a real music documentary should be.
  • This movie is brilliant. First of all, Pastorius lived one of the most fascinating lives of any artist in recent history, and that's a prerequisite for making a movie of this caliber. But then you have to execute, to produce a work that is worthy of the subject matter. And they pulled it off. And that took a lot of talent.
  • About the odyssey of a genius, a genius of the bass guitar, a genius who, like Mozart and many others before him, ended sad, in misery. After celebrating the peak of glory with another great genius, Joe Zawinul, in the legendary band of jazz fusion Weather Report, Jaco Pastorius followed a downward road, slept through parks, arrived at one moment in a madhouse, and died young, in a stupid way. But, better watch the movie, it's full of people who have met and admired him, famous musicians...
  • The movie tells the story of one of the biggest bassists that ever lived, who was at the top during the 70's when Jazz and Rock had a brief romance that blended the two together before music became a very segmented compartmentalized business.

    I'll assume anyone considering the movie will already know the basic story of Jaco's rise and fall. If not, then I would certainly not recommend this documentary. Some documentaries work well for people that aren't even familiar with the central subject, and example would be Senna, or Finding Sugarman... Both of those two told a story that drew you in so that you felt a connection to the character even if you weren't familiar with him before. Jaco does none of that it pretty much just retread the information you probably already were aware of and throws in some old photos and film clips that you might not have already found surfing on Youtube when looking up Jaco.

    The production values are generally good, the real down fall is that too much time is spent running old grainy footage from the past that doesn't really help the story as much as it simply serves as a media to throw out footage someone found in a basement somewhere.

    What will probably upset more people even more is that the documentary was marketed on the internet using clips of artists such as Flea talking about Jaco, so that you expected to see more of that type of thing in the documentary... sadly it is missing. The majority of the interviews are with a few select people that worked or knew him personally but they don't give a lot of insight into him. You also are missing any discussion of what Jaco did or how he was doing it... I would have much preferred to have the film spend a few minutes going over the harmonics he was getting out of the bass and how it was achieved instead of hearing about how he used to crash at so and so's house and just hang for a days...

    Sorry but I am a fan of his and was expecting more... this didn't deliver. Even a hard core fan will be hard pressed not to hit the fast forward button to zip through some of it... The up side is I think the only way you can see this is to buy the Blu-ray or DVD of it... I would recommend the DVD over the blu-ray because there is so much old grainy footage that you don't really need the clarity of blu-ray to view SD video... Don't expect to watch the whole thing in one sitting it too me two days because I got bored the first night and finished the second.
  • revbayer5 February 2021
    Why no content about his time with Pat Metheny? Or, was I in the kitchen? To many, Jaco's work with Metheny is as significant as his work with Weather Report. And not even a comment from Pat. But, we do see Metheny for 2 seconds under the closing credits. Unfortunate omission.

    Otherwise, we'll made, great clips of Jaco and good audio, but it could have been tightened up a bit.
  • I'm reviewing "Jaco" after seeing it for the second time in three years. This time it became apparent to me that Jaco ("the greatest bass player who ever lived") was a real life Tragic Hero in the classical sense. He had a seemingly supernatural gift, but ultimately mental illness and addiction plagued him after his rise to the top. The documentary lays out that story, and features commentary by some of the collaborating musicians who were also at the top of their field (Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter). Viewers who are unfamiliar with Jaco Pastorius might not find this as engaging as his fans will. But for those who are curious about a musician who completely revolutionized the way of playing his instrument, this doc might turn you on to one of the greats.
  • 06JAN2020 {4/10 stars C-} Recommend? Yes, for those familiar with Jaco or love learning about music history. -6 stars for repeating content.

    The documentary could have easily been shortened by at least 20 minutes and made more concise. Before this was suggested on Hulu I had never heard of Jaco. Decided to play the video and found it to be dry, slow and long winded. Some of the interviews have repeating content that is tiring to hear. Like, how Jaco frequently introduced himself as "the greatest bass player in the world" followed by people saying they didn't believe him and wanted him to prove his claim.

    This video is so slow going I typed this while the documentary played and had no problem following what was happening. I found Jaco Pastorius on the Pandora app and will be listening to his music.

    The harmonics and sound of Jaco's guitar playing are relaxing and exhilarating depending on the speed of his playing. Unfortunately Jaco only plays guitar, he does not sing. There are many long interludes in the documentary of only Jaco strumming his bass guitar with no vocals or other instruments playing. After awhile these interludes get to be tiresome. Some of Jaco's guitar playing is used as background music for when people are talking. This was a good way to share his music abilities while also allowing time for people to talk. The production quality and sound is good. Many musicians, some famous, took time to appear in this documentary and talk about Jaco.

    There are a few clips in this documentary of Jaco sitting and talking interview style about himself and his music. There should have been a lot more of this with less repeating content and long interludes of Jaco strumming.

    CONTENT ADVISORY: Documentary starts with some previews that include profanity like the f-word. Profanity in this documentary are f-word and sh't said a few times along with damn, assh'le and God's name said in vain.

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