JACO documentary: exclusive interview with film director Paul Marchand

SMG Jaco-Pastorius

This month sees the long-awaited release of JACO – the documentary on the life and music of revered former Weather Report bassist Jaco Pastorius who died in 1987 aged 35 in tragic circumstances – but who unequivocally changed the sound and perception of the bass guitar forever. This much-anticipated film has been produced by Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo and directed by documentary filmmaker Paul Marchand, and features extensive archive footage of Jaco and contributions from the likes of Herbie Hancock, Vinnie White, Joni Mitchell, Sting, Flea and Bobby Colomby in a hugely evocative portrait of the late great bassist.

Ahead of its release on DVD later this month on 27 November, along with an accompanying CD, Jaco: Original Soundtrack (Legacy Recordings), the film will be screened as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival at the Barbican cinema on 16 November. Mike Flynn spoke to the film’s director Paul Marchand about how this huge project came together:

When did you first start making this film and how did you begin the process?

For me it began in a Santa Monica sushi restaurant in 2011. I met Robert Trujillo (below with Marchand) and the first director, Stephen Kijak for dinner. I had assumed Robert would be at least 30 minutes late, being a rockstar and all, but he was early, eager and passionate about the project he had in front of him. I was hooked immediately and signed on as editor. I set up shop in the back cottage of Robert’s Venice Beach house and we began to interview over 70 of Jaco’s closest family and friends, which resulted in close to 300 hours of interview footage. After a year Stephen Kijak left the project to direct a documentary on the Backstreet Boys and I doubled down as director/editor. Over the next three years Robert and I whittled down the footage and scored some big interviews with Joni Mitchell and Jerry Jemmott and others that allowed us to reconceptualise our film. Our cinematographer, Roger De Giacomi, who is responsible for all the beautiful interview footage also made the long production possible.

marchand-trujillo

This is an amazingly detailed piece of work – for instance how did you get hold of the recordings of Jaco and his father talking on the phone and all the archive footage of Jaco as a boy etc?

The Pastorius family and mainly John Pastorius IV (Jaco’s eldest son) were close collaborators through each step of the process. Also Bob Bobbing, a friend of the Jaco & his family, was instrumental in providing us with a large archive he had collected through the years. Bob had a warehouse in Florida with various tapes, photographs and hard drives of anything he could find relating to Jaco. In that archive were these heartbreaking answering machine recordings that Jack Pastorius (Jaco’s father) had recorded. No one knows exactly why he recorded the calls Jaco made to him, but the result was an amazingly emotional document of the very nuanced relationship between a father and his eldest son. The 8mm footage was given to us by Jaco’s brothers Gregory and Rory. I received them in a metal tackle box and quickly transferred them all to HD video at a professional facility in Hollywood. The great thing about the wealth of 8mm footage from the Pastorius family is that much of it was shot by Gregory Pastorius. Gregory is a visual artist, sculptor and painter and he shot home videos with an artistry that I had never seen from that period. For me, this beautiful archive is what makes the film feel experiential and alive.

The flow from his rise to fame to the sadness of his later years was beautifully handled but an over-arching commentary might have diluted some of the atmosphere – was there a conscious decision about letting the music and imagery (and comments from the contributors) do the talking?

Yes. In fact, we had made that mistake in one of the many edits of this film. I believe that at certain point good filmmaking, and particularly filmmaking about music, becomes like songwriting. If the emotion of the truth is not conveyed to the first time viewer or listener, then the details are meaningless. Our goal was to elicit emotion from the viewer that let them understand Jaco as an artist and a family man, who struggled with a complex illness. We found that the more we let people contextualise his experience, the further our film travelled from his emotional journey. The balance between information and emotional cinema was definitely the most challenging part of editing the film. Robert Trujillo, being a songwriter himself, was the perfect collaborator and a perfectionist with regard to tone and pace. Also the family was there to pull us back to the truth of the story if we ever went too far off course.

It’s over 25 years since Jaco died did you feel that this film will help consolidate his place as one of the greats in music history? Perhaps reminding, or even educating a younger generation – who might not have even heard of Jaco – about his musical legacy?

I’m 34, just a couple years younger than Jaco’s oldest son. I heard Jaco’s music as child, but before I started the project I knew him only as an amazingly emotive bass player with a tragic story. I leave the project thinking of him as a complete musician, and fascinated by the mystery of his compositions. My creative journey through music and film is all about exposure. I hope that we’ve “exposed” people to some of the truths of Jaco’s life that shed light on the genius of his art.

Do you feel that Jaco and many of his contemporaries came to prominence at a special time in music – a time that we are unlikely to see again…?

I think it was an amazing time for music. People were pushing the envelope in every direction and the only trend was to “be different.” I think we’ll have a time like that again. It may not be on the commercial scale that it was in the 1960’s and 70s but further we get away from real instruments the more we pine for them. The pendulum will swing.

What do you hope people will take away from the film?

I think all of the collaborators see the film differently as I’m sure all the audience members will. For me, I want people to believe in and admire Jaco’s artistic integrity. I think the world needs much more of that… and I think that’s the missing ingredient that will get creators back to a time like Jaco’s. He played the music that was in his head… and if the label didn’t want it… well f*ck them. Also I think it’s good for many families who struggle with mental illness. Unlike the many stories that have floated around about Jaco for years, he wasn’t just another drug using musician. He had a illness, and one that was treatable. I know in my own life I can think of a handful of troubled people that Jaco’s story makes me want to try harder for. Also buy his albums! The entire human experience is in his music.

See the December/January issue of Jazzwise out on 26 November for an interview with Robert Trujillo about the film and www.jacothefilm.com - click here to pre-order the DVD

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Charles Hayward, Sven-Åke Johansson and Weasel Walter represent percussive sub-current at Sonic Protest festival in Paris

Charles Hayward, Sven-Åke Johansson and …

  Sonic Protest runs its core festival across various Parisian venues...

Read More.....
Shobaleader One frenzied and fired-up at Village Underground

Shobaleader One frenzied and fired-up at…

You can tell a lot about a man by the...

Read More.....
Morning Ain't Broken: Cline Meets Horn For Small Hours Summit On RSD Day Single

Morning Ain't Broken: Cline Meets Horn F…

Nels Cline contributes the one and only outtake from his Lovers...

Read More.....
Partikel power-up with Counteraction - video exclusive 'Lanterns'

Partikel power-up with Counteraction - v…

Sax-bass-drums trio Partikel return with a new album, Counteraction, set...

Read More.....
Jasper Høiby’s Fellow Creatures, Yazz Ahmed and Dinosaur among the delights at Bristol Jazz Festival

Jasper Høiby’s Fellow Creatures, Yazz Ah…

Now in its fifth year the Bristol International Jazz and...

Read More.....
Lauren Dalrymple celebrates 18 Years of the SoFF Music Jam in Brixton

Lauren Dalrymple celebrates 18 Years of …

Dynamic jazz singer Lauren Dalrymple has hosted her SoFF Music...

Read More.....
Vinyl liaison for lost Thelonious Monk LP for Record Store Day release

Vinyl liaison for lost Thelonious Monk L…

Thelonious Monk's only ever soundtrack recording, for the provocative 1959...

Read More.....
Danilo Pérez, Christian Scott and Gonzalo Rubalcaba majestic and magnetic at Haiti’s Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince

Danilo Pérez, Christian Scott and Gonzal…

Port-au-Prince is one of the most intoxicating places I've ever...

Read More.....
James Brandon Lewis Trio Dazzle On UK Debut At Ronnie Scott's

James Brandon Lewis Trio Dazzle On UK De…

  After a stellar performance for a sold-out audience John McLaughlin...

Read More.....
Soft Machine, Ezra Collective and Ella tribute for Elgar Room jazz nights

Soft Machine, Ezra Collective and Ella t…

The Elgar Room, the Royal Albert Hall's highly accommodating 200-capacity...

Read More.....
John McLaughlin blasts off with the 4th Dimension at Ronnie Scott’s

John McLaughlin blasts off with the 4th …

The weeklong Jazzwise 20th anniversary celebrations kicked off in spectacular...

Read More.....
Awkward: A Short Film About Evan Parker

Awkward: A Short Film About Evan Parker

Evan Parker draws back the veil on the challenges of...

Read More.....
Just The Jazz Ticket: Tomorrow's Warriors Unveil New Music Education Project

Just The Jazz Ticket: Tomorrow's Warrior…

  Award-wining jazz development company Tomorrow's Warrior's launches its new music...

Read More.....
Alice From The Ashram: Private Press Tapes Released

Alice From The Ashram: Private Press Tap…

Luaka Bop will dial up the divine with a first-ever...

Read More.....
Donny McCaslin, Ashley Henry and Laura Jurd's Dinosaur among Jazz FM Awards nominees

Donny McCaslin, Ashley Henry and Laura J…

The nominees for the fourth Jazz FM Awards have been...

Read More.....
Pat Metheny, Marcus Miller and Phronesis/Engines Orchestra for 25th EFG London Jazz Festival

Pat Metheny, Marcus Miller and Phronesis…

The first names have been announced for the milestone 25th...

Read More.....
Spark Trio Ignite Glasgow Gig Series

Spark Trio Ignite Glasgow Gig Series

Glasgow's Spark Trio is the latest Scottish band to take...

Read More.....
Saxophonist Tim Armacost triumphant at The Verdict

Saxophonist Tim Armacost triumphant at T…

  Tim Armacost is here tonight on one of only three...

Read More.....
Late Shows line-up for Jazzwise 20th Anniversary Festival at Ronnie Scott’s

Late Shows line-up for Jazzwise 20th Ann…

The final names have been confirmed for the momentous Jazzwise...

Read More.....
Exclusive live video from Norwegian soul-jazz newcomers Rohey

Exclusive live video from Norwegian soul…

Scandi-soul-jazz rising stars Rohey are set to release their debut...

Read More.....
Evan Parker Among Hull City Hall Ambassadors Of Basil Kirchin's Exotic Muse

Evan Parker Among Hull City Hall Ambassa…

  Many of those with their digits usually found firmly on...

Read More.....
Guitar giant and ‘Godfather of Fusion’ Larry Coryell dies aged 73

Guitar giant and ‘Godfather of Fusion’ L…

Renowned fusion guitarist Larry Coryell died on Sunday 19 February...

Read More.....
Rachel Cohen heads for Playtime in Edinburgh

Rachel Cohen heads for Playtime in Edinb…

London-based saxophonist Rachael Cohen is among the featured musicians in...

Read More.....
Brad Mehldau Trio, Fame and Peyroux for Bath Festival

Brad Mehldau Trio, Fame and Peyroux for …

Jazz continues to play a strong part in this year's...

Read More.....
Henry Spencer and Juncture lift-off at Pizza album launch

Henry Spencer and Juncture lift-off at P…

On an otherwise quiet Tuesday night in Central London, rising...

Read More.....
Georges Kaplan Presents... Card Sharp With EP Launch At New River Studios

Georges Kaplan Presents... Card Sharp Wi…

Disciples of Bohren & der Club of Gore and John...

Read More.....
Gregory Porter and Jamie Cullum light up Nocturne

Gregory Porter and Jamie Cullum light up…

The grand setting of Blenheim Palace, in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, is...

Read More.....
Art Ensemble Reassemble For October OTO Return

Art Ensemble Reassemble For October OTO …

Following their much-celebrated stop-off at London's Cafe OTO this month...

Read More.....
Al Jarreau (12/03/1940 – 12/02/2017)

Al Jarreau (12/03/1940 – 12/02/2017)

As something of a late bloomer in the record industry...

Read More.....
Avishai Cohen with the BBC Concert Orchestra mesmerise at Barbican

Avishai Cohen with the BBC Concert Orche…

The evening starts with the restraint and decorum proper to...

Read More.....
Phronesis with Engines Orchestra, Steve Gadd, Lionel Loueke and Gregory Porter complete Cheltenham Jazz Fest Programme

Phronesis with Engines Orchestra, Steve …

This year's Cheltenham Jazz Festival, which runs from 26 April...

Read More.....
Michael Wollny Trio, Gregory Porter and Comet Is Coming head to Love Supreme Jazz Festival 2017

Michael Wollny Trio, Gregory Porter and …

With jazz legends Herbie Hancock and George Benson already confirmed...

Read More.....
Bill Laurance turns up the heat on tour

Bill Laurance turns up the heat on tour

Keyboardist Bill Laurance, who rose to prominence with Grammy Award-winning...

Read More.....
The Art Ensemble Of Chicago captivate at Cafe OTO

The Art Ensemble Of Chicago captivate at…

Over the last decade or so, Cafe OTO has secured...

Read More.....
Julian Siegel Jazz Orchestra hits the road

Julian Siegel Jazz Orchestra hits the ro…

Leading UK saxophonist Julian Siegel is set to unveil his...

Read More.....
Tim Armacost swings out for album and European tour

Tim Armacost swings out for album and Eu…

Hard-blowing New York-based saxophonist Tim Armacost kicks off his European...

Read More.....

Qobuz-ad

 

Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

Charles Hayward, Sven-Åke Johansson and Weasel Walter represent percussive sub-current at Paris Sonic Protest fest… https://t.co/QILWUppxU4
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
Brother Ahh embalming spirits in myrrh this Friday https://t.co/AqGhRCpxLz @OmnianTweets @MFGrecordings @mysterylesson @k_le_gendre
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
Shobaleader One frenzied and fired-up at Village Underground - #drumnbassdiscodubjazzfunkthrash… https://t.co/lSrl22YXNa
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
Cline Meets Horn For Small Hours Summit On RSD Day Single https://t.co/9q86BpHHzk @bluenoterecords @nelscline… https://t.co/7h0UXBiG09
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
Trumpet star on the rise Freddie Gavita will launch his debut album TRANSIENT on 19 April at Ronnie Scott's Bar… https://t.co/UGJZNXuifb
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

Sign up to the Jazzwise monthly E-Newsletter