Joni Mitchell, Jaco Pastorius, et al on YouTube

I’m delighted to discover that the video of Joni Mitchell’s classic Shadows and Light concert (1980) can be viewed in full (1h 13m) on YouTube. Supporting players are Jaco Pastorius on bass, Pat Metheny on guitar, Michael Brecker on sax, Don Alias on drums, Lyle Mays on keyboards, and The Persuasions. It’s among my favorite videos of a concert performance.

Jaco Pastorius 1987
Jaco Pastorius

Jaco was a Fort Lauderdale kid who began playing in rock bands around town in a variety of clubs: She, The 4 O’Clock CLub, The Village Zoo, The Flying Machine, The Button, Bachelors III, Ocean Mist . . . When I first heard Jaco in the early 1970s, he was playing bass for straight-ahead local rock bands. He graduated to more jazz- and fusion- related music and put his unique fretless Fender bass stamp on Weather Report. I’ve heard bass players tell me that they tried to imitate Jaco’s technique, but gave up trying; they claim that Jaco changed what it meant to play electric bass guitar. Jaco’s friend Pat Metheny, who plays a beautiful lead guitar in this concert, is a University of Miami music school graduate.

Jaco seemed to still have his act together when he played this concert. Wikipedia has a good Jaco biography. He had a rapid rise to the top followed by a quick ride back down again. I had musician friends c 1984-87 who were torn up watching their friend Jaco dismantle his life. This Warner Brothers recording artist and Down Beat Hall of Fame member was sleeping on park benches and shooting baskets in a local public park.

Michael Brecker and Don Alias died a few years ago.

This is a classic performance by master musicians who were at the top of their games. Too bad it couldn’t last forever.

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