of Wine and Roses
Lagrène - Guitars, background vocals
Pastorius - Fender bass, piano, vocals
Sendecki - Keyboards, synthesisers
Lübke - Drums
Bringolf - Percussion, background vocals
Jankeje - Bass synthesiser, background vocals (tracks 6, 8)
guitarist Biréli Lagrène is probably best known as an exponent of
manouche music - in other words, the sort of "gipsy jazz"
that owes an immense amount to Django Reinhardt. Yet Biréli had wide
horizons and was intrigued by such groups as Weather Report and he
recorded with John McLaughlin and Larry Coryell. So it was no surprise
that he did some concerts with Jaco Pastorius, the most iconic of
Weather Report's bassists and the man who made the fretless bass fashionable.
studio album was recorded in March 1986: the same year that Biréli
and Jaco played concerts in Europe. Pastorius was already a sick man
from his use of drugs and/or drink, and he died the following year.
Yet despite sometimes sounding subdued compared with Lagrène, he still
plays masterfully. Knowing what was to come, it is particularly poignant
to hear Jaco playing Days of Wine and Roses, the theme tune
from a film about alcohol addiction.
of the tracks are in jazz-fusion vein but these are mixed with other
approaches. Stuttgart Aria I even has Pastorius singing on
a disco-style number ("Hey baby, let yourself go"). The
sleeve-note is perhaps over-emphatic in pointing out the album's deficiencies,
saying "Let's face it - this album is not perfect and certainly
doesn't do complete justice to the talent of either of the protagonists,
nor to the sparks they let fly on stage". The sleeve writer suggests
that Biréli and Jaco were too busy listening to one another to fully
let themselves go - and the "musicians hadn't done the proper
preparatory work for this session". But when was it ever bad
for jazz musicians to listen to each other? And the lack of preparation
may simply foster the spontaneous nature of the music.
any case, both the main artists really seem to be enjoying their collaboration.
They play near their very best, and the ultra-fast version of Donna
Lee is a tour de force. Other outstanding tracks are the
delicately lilting Teresa and Jaco Reggae, which underpins
jazzy soloing from Biréli with a subtle reggae rhythm laid down by
Jaco's bass. Admittedly some tracks seem overloaded with synthesisers
but this just adds to the overall richness of sound.
was possibly Jaco Pastorius' last recorded album but, whatever his
physical state, he could still play the bass like nobody else. And
Biréli Lagrène again proves his versatility as well as his exceptional