A 35-year-old performance from the late bass legend Jaco Pastorius is finally receiving its full release on Record Store Day. Jaco Pastorius: Truth, Liberty & Soul was recorded at New York City’s Avery Hall in June 1982, and was partially broadcast on NPR, but this is the first time that the full set, featuring Pastorius’ Word of Mouth big band and harmonica icon Toots Thielemans, has been made available. “Soul Intro/The Chicken” wouldn’t be officially released until the following year on his Invitation album
1987: Jaco’s Final Year
Jaco started the year by moving back to Fort Lauderdale with his girlfriend, Teresa. Although he tried to regain stability, the old demons of mental illness reappeared, leading to many strange performances and even short stints in jail. Everything came to its tragic head on in the early morning hours of Sept. 12, 1987, when Jaco went to a bar called the Midnight Bottle Club, where he was ejected for his behaviour. When he tried to kick the door back in, the club’s manager, a third-degree black belt in karate, hit Jaco several times. Jaco’s skull was fractured, and he suffered massive internal bleeding. Jaco never left the hospital. On Sept. 19, he had a brain hemorrhage and went on a respirator. His family decided to remove him from life support on Sept. 21 and he died a little more than three hours later, with Tracy holding his hand. Jaco Pastorius was 35 years old. His assailant pled guilty to manslaughter charges and ultimately only spent four months in prison.
Jaco is buried in Our Lady Queen of Heaven Cemetery in North Lauderdale and Jaco Pastorius Park opened in 2008 in Oakland Park. While his legacy lives on there, it’s even more present in the legions of bassists inspired to play the instrument in a new way — or to play it at all — after hearing the work Jaco created during his prolific, but all too short career.