Gil Evans with the equally legendary Jaco Pastorius, recorded in concert during the Under the Sky Festival in Tokyo on July 28, 1984.
For those of you who already know, I don’t have to tell you about the amazing career Gil Evans had. Since his earliest days during the Big Band era, working as arranger with the underrated innovator Claude Thornhill all the way through his pivotal work with Miles Davis, to his later years as one of the giants and elder statesmen in the world of Jazz. He was in an almost constant state of experimenting, pushing the envelope, broadening horizons and taking Jazz to new vistas – and he was always working with new talent.
And Jaco Pastorius, who was a highly influential bassist, whose own work as composer, arranger and member Weather Report, as well as working with a virtual who’s who of jazz musicians made him one of only 7 bass players to be inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1986. In addition, his wide range of musical tastes found him collaborating with a number of other artists, including Joni Mitchell and Ian Hunter – so it was his ability to cross musical lines and exchange musical ideas that made him the innovator he was widely regarded as.
Sadly, Pastorius’ career was short-lived. Owing to a advancing state of mental illness and instability, Pastorius died some three years after this concert, the result of a beating he had received during one of this violent outbursts. He had been exhibiting symptoms for many years, but it was exacerbated by his increased use of drugs and alcohol. It was truly a senseless loss to the Jazz world, and the Music world in general.
This summit meeting (of sorts) between Evans and Pastorius is further evidence of the experimental and innovative nature of Gil Evans’ work. It may not be for all tastes, but it signified a further pushing of the envelope and a further desire to keep the spirit alive and moving.
And as is evidenced by the enthusiastic response of the Tokyo audience and the breathless enthusiasm of the Japanese announcer, it was a magical night for all.
Here is that concert, as it was broadcast on the evening of July 28, 1984.