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Jaco: The Extraordinary and Tragic Life of Jaco Pastorius Paperback – Deluxe Edition, November 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Bill Milkowski has been covering the music scene since 1975 for publications such as Downbeat, JazzTimes, Guitar Player, Bass Player, and many others. He knew Pastorius personally from 1982 until the artist's death in 1987.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: BACKBEAT BOOKS (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879308591
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879308599
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #506,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bill Milkowski is a New York-based music journalist who is a regular contributor to Down Beat, Jazziz and The Absolute Sound magazines. His writing has also appeared in Jazz Times, Guitar Player, Bass Player, Modern Drummer, Acoustic Guitar, Mojo, Swing Journal and DRUM! as well as magazines abroad such as Jazzthing (Germany), Vibrations (Switzerland), Guitar Club (Italy), Guitar (Japan) and Hudba (Slovakia).

Since moving to New York from his hometown of Milwaukee in 1980, Milkowski has written over 600 sets of liner notes for a wide variety of record labels and has published over 7,000 articles, features and reviews. He has also produced recordings for the Blue Note, Columbia and Concord labels. Milkowski is the author of five books -- "JACO: The Extraordinary and Tragic Life of Jaco Pastorius" (Backbeat Books, 1995), "Rockers, Jazzbos & Visionaries" (Billboard Books, 1998),"Swing It! An Annotated History of Jive" (Billboard Books, 2001), "Legends of Jazz" (Edizioni White Star, 2011) and "Keith Richards: A Rock 'N' Roll Life" (Edizioni White Star). He is also the co-author of "Here And Now: The Autobiograpy of Pat Martino (Backbeat Books, 2011).

A winner of the Helen Oakley Dance-Robert Palmer Award for Excellence in Newspaper, Magazine, Online Feature or Review Writing for 2004, Milkowski also received the Jazz Journalist Association's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. He is the recipient of the 2015 Bruce Lundvall Award, presented by the Montreal Jazz Festival.

Aside from a three-year period (1993-1996) when he lived in New Orleans and was a late-night dj on radio station WWOZ ("The Milkman's Matinee"), Milkowski has resided in New York City since 1980. He currently lives in the northern Manhattan neighborhood of Hudson Heights.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By corey brown on December 17, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read the first edition of this book when it first came out 10 years ago, and I was disappointed with the heavy emphasis on Jaco's darker, later years.

I was excited to pick up this "10th anniversary edition" with "the new insights of the early years" and the "new revelations about his tragic final days..."

There is more early years coverage, thanks in large part to Bob Bobbing, Jaco's friend and audio-biographer (the CD included with the book is from the Jaco, the Early Years box set). However, I found this book to be full of typos, passages that appear unedited, repetitive and rambling.

The "new revelations" about his final days were very confusing. Milkowski seems to want to cast doubt over what was regarded as the incident between Jaco and Luc Havan, though it bounces around between Havan actually killing him, to other vague passages that cause more confusion than provide any insight.

This is a sad book, but it has to be, unfortunately. Reading it this time gave me the same feeling as last. I wish someone could have broken through to help him, as impossible as it was to do that.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Best Of All on August 9, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I remember Jaco Pastorius through several great concerts with Weather Report and a sizzling show with Word of Mouth at the Cleveland Agora.

For those who had the chance to appreciate his music live or for so many that are grooving to Jaco many years after his death, the updated biography - with a CD that includes additional material - by Bill Milkowski is the best way to piece together the complicated rise and fall of the brilliant musician.

Milkowski has exhaustive interviews with musicians, family members, media, friends and lovers that are split in chapters to coincide with his years as a musician with a dream, the height of musical achievement and then leaving Weather Report, and the controversial years after leaving the group that found Jaco spiralling out of control personally and musically.

That Jaco was a musical genius cannot be denied. The book will leave you wondering why Jaco - as with too many artists - took his gift and tossed it into the abyss of "what could have been."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L. Esp.. on July 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
HE IS AND WAS MY HERO AND THE GREATEST BASS PLAYER WHO HAS EVER LIVED...I BELIEVE BILL MILKOWSKI DID A WONDERFUL JOB AND I FEEL HE LOVED JACO AS WELL...HE KNEW JACO TOWARD THE END OF HIS LIFE..THE DARK TIMES BUT HE ACCURATELY COVERS HIS ENTIRE LIFE KEEPING HIM IN A GOOD LIGHT..CERTAINLY THERE WERE BAD TIMES BUT HE DOESNT JUST FOCUS ON THOSE TIMES...I BELIEVE HE TOOK A GOOD BIT OF CRITICISM OVER THIS BOOK UNTIL ONE OF JACOS LIFE LONG FRIENDS STUCK UP FOR MR MILKOWSKI AND THIS BOOK...I COULD NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN AND HAVE REREAD IT MANY TIMES....IT IS A MUST OWN FOR ANY JACO FAN AND IS NOT TRASHY TABLOID JUNK..YOU CAN TELL BILL MILKOSKI LOVED JACO AS ALL JACO FANS DO..
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By uncertain terms on July 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
First off, the title is great. There is no doubt that Jaco is one of the most (if not the most) gifted bass players of all time. The book documents his life as a young boy who picked up the bass (after he could not play drums any longer because he broke his arm), his career and his later years when he suffered from mental illness and died at 33. I bring up the question of accuracy as it has been raised by others as well.

One criticism about the book has been that it sensationalizes Jaco's destructive behaviour and takes away from his legacy. This is a point made by Metheny (who was a friend and a fellow musician) in the liner notes of Jaco's debut album. Also I have asked the opinion of (via a short e-mail) Jaco's second wife. Her website that details some minor inaccuracies that exist in the first edition.

That being said the book is well written and gives insight into Jaco's life. Milkowski (who is a music journalist) portrays Jaco as an extremely gifted, hard working and narcisisstic man who self destructs at the end due to bipolar disease. The clues to Jaco's illness are evident from his early years. He plays tirelessly and at times seldom sleeps. At the end of his life he self destructs due to a number of reasons including refusal comply with treatment for his illness,drugs and drinking.
One has to wonder what it says about our society that no one helped Jaco when he was clearly suffering towards the end. I posted the same question to Jaco's wife and her answer was that one has to be willing to accept help.

Mental illness is still misunderstood my most of the world. People who suffer from it can be hard to deal with and be around. I hope that if the same scenario plays out today, with better understanding of mental illness, the outcome would be different. But I am not an optimist.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Clay Cosner on August 20, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book reads at times like a hagiography of Jaco. Yeah, Jaco's flaws are enumerated, but there is an obvious worship of Jaco by the author. Having said that, it is still a good book. It is a very thorough biography. It is a little different, in that it helps to have a knowledge of the intricacies of music, e.g., specific chord changes are mentioned. Yo, I took piano, so I don't know a D chord from a G chord on a guitar. Still, I enjoyed the book and learned a lot.

The 40 minute CD that comes with the book, is a real nice bonus by the author. Thanks.
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