Jaco: The Extraordinary and Tragic Life of Jaco Pastorius: Deluxe Edition
The real tragedy is that treatment might have saved him, although better medications exist today that have far fewer side effects, and at the time, there were few choices. During the one period where he was committed to an institution and put on lithium he became so emotionally flat that, while his life might have ultimately been saved, one wonders whether his creative spirit would have been irrevocably impacted.
Milkowski's book was controversial when it was first released, and it may be even more so with this new edition. On the other hand, in the intervening years he's managed to obtain far more interview footage, making his take on Jaco's life and death less conjecture and more supportable fact. While Milkowski's style is eminently readable, the book is by no means an easy read, because when Jaco begins to slide the reader is taken right down with him. If one of Milkowski's goals is to hammer home the immensity of the tragedy, then it's an unequivocal success, as one is left feeling as hollow and empty as those who knew him did when he passed away.
As an added bonus to the book, a CD is included that's a 44-minute excerpt from the two-CD audio biography Portrait of Jaco (Holiday Park Records, 2003). While listening to a young Pastorius solo endlessly over an R&B vamp may be a little much, listening to Jaco's father, Wayne Cochran, Ira Sullivan, Bobby Economou, Joe Zawinul and Herbie Hancock speak frankly about the late bassist is a terrific adjunct to Milkowski's own words.
There are those who suggest that speculating on what artists like Jaco, John Coltrane and Charlie Parker might have done had they lived longer to be pointless, implying that we should be grateful for what we have, for what legacy they did leave. And that may be truecertainly Jaco's brief legacy, which continues to be felt today, is more significant than that of many who have lived to a ripe old age. But after finishing Jaco: The Extraordinary and Tragic Life of Jaco Pastorius: Deluxe Edition one is left with such a powerful sense of loss that it's only natural to think about what he'd be doing today, had his illness been properly managed and his twice-as-bright creative spark left untarnished.