from PASTE

Robert Trujillo on Punk-Jazz Bassist Jaco Pastorius

By Bill Milkowski

It was six years ago that Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo began the long journey that has finally come to fruition with the recent release of JACO, his acclaimed documentary on the life and times of the hugely influential electric bass guitarist Jaco Pastorius, who redefined his instrument in the 1970s with the premier fusion band Weather Report. Along the way Trujillo, who has been a member of Metallica since 2003, navigated countless roadblocks while investing his own money into this project which was clearly a labor of love for him. “Jaco was my hero growing up,” he explained. “Hearing him for the first time was like hearing Eddie Van Halen doing ‘Eruption’ for the first time: You thought, ‘What instrument is that?’ I loved jazz fusion and branched out from there. But Jaco had an edge that far exceeded his jazz persona. He was funk, he was rock, he was soul. And his whole attitude was punk.”

Fittingly, Pastorius titled one of his ‘70s opuses “Punk Jazz” (from Weather Report’s 1978 album, Mr. Gone). But it was more than just the mind-blowing sound of Jaco’s ground-breaking approach to the bass that appealed to a young Trujillo and his crew of self-described ‘skateboard rats’ who caught Weather Report in concert at the Santa Monica Civic Center in 1979. As he explains, “Here was Jaco on stage with his shirt off, long hair, a headband. So in many ways he was just like me and my wild surfing and skateboarding friends from Venice Beach. He was punk! And to see this guy performing live, sliding around with the baby powder sprinkled on stage, sliding into his bass on stage like he was sliding into home plate in a baseball game, leaping off his Acoustic 360 amp. I had just never seen that kind of energy and passion before, and that stuck with me.”

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