Othello and Jaco: A Great Jazz Partnership

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Ray Funk (for the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian) reviews the two CD album Jaco Pastorius Truth Liberty & Soul, featuring Trinidadian pan jazz artist Othello Molineaux.

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He offers a trajectory of the friendship between the two musicians and laments the loss of their never-released collaboration, Holiday for Pan. Funk writes:

Issued earlier this year and appearing on some “best of 2017” jazz record lists, Jaco Pastorius Word of Mouth Big Band, Truth Liberty & Soul (Resonance Records) is a two CD set that is treasure. It features one of the best live recordings by Jaco Pastorius (1951-1987) and his close friend and Trinidad pan jazz giant Othello Molineux [sic]. It is a live recording from the Kool Jazz Festival in New York City from June 1982. Jaco Pastourius is at his prime with a fine big band and as guest the great French jazz harmonica player Toots Thiemans. The interplay of Othello, Thiesmann and Pastorius is especially wonderful. A full two-hour concert excellently recorded and beautifully remastered makes this a classic.

Jaco and Othello met at a jazz club called the Lion’s Share in Miami, Florida in 1971. Pastorius was playing with saxophonist Ira Sullivan and Othello lead his own jazz quartet. Othello who had left Trinidad, had been living in the Virgin Islands, moved to Miami in 1971 and had done a bit of cruise boat work but was really focused on being a jazz performer. Jaco and Othello soon were playing together around Miami although they also got other gigs.

In 1974, Jaco had put together a demo of his original material in Miami looking to get a record deal. A year later he was signed and recorded his first album with Othello on Jaco Pastorius’s own composition Opus Pocus. Not long after the album was out, Jaco got the chance to join Weather Report and he stayed with them until the end of 1981 and released his first album for Warner Brothers — Word of Mouth. It became the name of the band that he took on the road in 1982, sometimes a small core group.

Othello appeared in July at the Montreal Jazz Festival which was filmed and issued. But things that year were erratic and nothing seemed quite as strong as the live concert just issued as Truth Liberty & Soul.

A month after these live recordings, Jaco took a major segment of the big band into a New York recording studio to lay down the tracks that were to become the basis for what was to be his next album. It was set to feature Othello Molineaux and had as its planned title, Holiday for Pan. But not long after, Pastorius mental health deteriorated.

Molineux was devastated. As he told Jaco’s biographer Bill Milkowski, “I moved up to New York in the summer of 1985 to be close to Jaco…I went through a really emotional period with him, and I tried to help him in any way I could. But he was raging out of control.”

The unfinished tapes for Holiday for Pan tapes ended up in the hands of a Japanese producer who was sued by the estate to block their release as incomplete material. Sadly, what should have been their greatest triumph together never came to fruition and it was issued only as a bootleg in an incomplete state. Only one cut was later issued officially on an anthology.

But now this classic living recording from earlier in 1982 shows the glory of a great pan-jazz partnership and it should not be missed.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.tt/lifestyle/2017-12-27/othello-and-jaco-great-jazz-partnership

For more on Molineaux, see http://www.othellomolineaux.com/

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