[JPL] Jaco Pastorius honored in Oakland Park, 20 years after death

Philip Booth philipbooth at tampabay.rr.com
Sun Dec 30 20:42:38 EST 2007

about time.

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Sent: Sunday, December 30, 2007 7:16 AM
Subject: [JPL] Jaco Pastorius honored in Oakland Park, 20 years after death

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> Jaco Pastorius honored in Oakland Park, 20 years after death
> OAKLAND PARK, Fla. -- Jaco Pastorius' violent death 20 years ago ended the
> career of one of the most original and flamboyant jazz musicians ever to
> strap on an electric bass guitar.
> Pastorius' Grammy-winning career included time with influential group
> Weather Report, Joni Mitchell and Herbie Hancock, who has called him a
> genius. But the end of his life was marred by erratic and strange behavior
> that culminated in a brawl outside a South Florida bar that killed him at
> 35.
> Now, the city of Oakland Park is honoring the man they simply call Jaco,
> naming a yet-unbuilt park after him as a reminder that a visionary once
> roamed this otherwise nondescript Fort Lauderdale suburb.
> "He influenced me as a kid growing up wanting to do what he did," said 
> Brian
> Yale, bass guitarist for the rock band Matchbox 20, at an Oakland Park 
> city
> commission meeting in November.
> "That it happened here in Oakland Park in the local school system, that's
> cool," said Yale, who lives near the park. "It's something that all of us
> should be telling our kids about, because this stuff started here. He
> changed the one American art form - jazz."
> Pastorius' virtuosity is cited by musicians and teachers alike. His speedy
> fingers, stylized harmonies, personal themes and technical proficiency on
> his Fender bass produced gems such as the quickly paced "Donna Lee," his
> wistful solo "Portrait of Tracy," and the catchy, upbeat "Birdland" with
> Weather Report. He often appeared shirtless to show off his slim build and
> wore a bandanna or other headwear. He liked to move around the stage and, 
> in
> essence, brought a rock frontman's presence and energy to jazz music
> performances.
> He's earned praise from jazz mainstays like Wayne Shorter and Pat Metheny,
> to rock guitarist Carlos Santana, to Police frontman/bassist Sting, who 
> has
> compared Pastorius to another guitar revolutionary - Jimi Hendrix.
> Here's what Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea wrote in liner notes
> accompanying the 2007 release, "The Essential Jaco Pastorius."
> "I love everything about him, I feel the depth of his joy and pain in 
> every
> note I have ever heard him play. Obviously he changed the face of electric
> bass playing forever and a great poet would be needed to attempt to 
> describe
> it, so I will just remain humbly awe stricken like everyone else."
> Pastorius was born in Pennsylvania, and his family moved to Florida 
> shortly
> afterward. He graduated from Northeast High School in Oakland Park, a
> working-class community known for the train that intersects the city with 
> a
> loud horn that Pastorius used in at least one recording.
> Pastorius started off as a drummer, but a wrist injury as a youth led him 
> to
> the bass. The bass, along with the drums, keeps time and lays the 
> foundation
> for jazz and rock musical compositions.
> After building a reputation as an innovator, he eventually performed in 
> the
> 1970s with Blood, Sweat and Tears and Metheny, along with Weather Report,
> Mitchell and Hancock. Pastorius won a Grammy Award in 1979 for his work on
> "8:30" with Weather Report.
> However, the 1980s were a darker time for Pastorius, who began to display
> psychological problems and erratic behavior due to a bipolar disorder, 
> while
> also allegedly using drugs.
> Those problems were manifest when he tried to get into a bar in Wilton
> Manors in September 1987. Pastorius and a bar employee got into a dispute,
> which ended in a vicious beating that sent Pastorius to a hospital, where 
> he
> later died. The bar employee was later convicted of manslaughter but 
> served
> only a few months in prison.
> Pastorius had four children in two marriages. Two of his children, Felix 
> and
> Julius, are musicians who often perform in South Florida.
> After the death, Pastorius' story was not often told in Oakland Park, 
> where
> many residents were oblivious to his life and accomplishments. It wasn't
> until this year, the 20th anniversary of his death, that a grass roots
> effort began gathering signatures for Jaco Pastorius Park.
> With his family behind a petition drive that gathered more than 1,000
> signatures, commissioners unanimously decided in late November to name the
> park after their local hero, choosing to honor his career rather than 
> ignore
> his story or dwell on his death's sad and tragic nature. Along with the 
> park
> naming, a memorial jazz concert honoring Pastorius was held Dec. 2.
> Oakland Park Mayor Larry Gierer said he heard little public complaint 
> about
> naming the park after a man whose late-life struggles are a prominent part
> of his story.
> "I did not hear any concerns, but I believe that Jaco Pastorius Park will
> help people remember the way he lived, not how he died," Gierer said.
> Officials hope to have the park at least operational by the end of
> September. Community and historical groups have pledged to help craft
> displays honoring Pastorius and bring special events to the park.
> Marcel Anton, a longtime music educator who lives in Sunny Isles but has
> taught in several cities around the country, was one of several people who
> spoke in support of the park at an earlier commission meeting. His
> 3-year-old son is named Jaco.
> "This man's work and his life, and who he was, represents a very positive
> element that youth can look at. The common good for the community is
> unbounded," Anton said. "There's not a bass program in the world that
> doesn't require for rite of passage and graduation some portion of this
> man's music."
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