Last month saw the inaugural Los Angeles screening of Jaco, the Rob Trujillo-backed documentary about the mercurial jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius, whose virtuosic approach to playing has informed the styles of a considerable chunk of today’s top bass players. For Trujillo, Metallica’s bassist for the past decade, Jaco’s influence cannot be overstated; in fact, it’s no stretch to say that without Jaco’s influence, Rob might well be following a very different path today. Which is why Rob has spent the past five years writing and co-producing the documentary, which is slated for official release later this year.
Featuring previously unreleased home movies and rare archival footage, the film also includes absorbing firsthand accounts from Jaco’s family, his former bandmates and latter day legends like Geddy Lee, Flea, Sting and Bootsy Collins. Recently discussing the project with Metal Hammer, Rob explained, “I first saw him perform with Weather Report at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium back in 1979. When I saw Jaco play, it blew my mind.” All told, Rob would see Jaco live five times before his untimely passing in 1987 at the age of thirty five, after a scuffle with a club bouncer sent him into a coma.
Insisting that the story is anything but a niche project for the jazz community, Rob told us, “The whole point is to share the story with the world because it’s a great human story. It’s not just about bass or jazz, per se, it’s beyond that. This person had a bipolar disorder, he was homeless and he did some incredible things in a short amount of time. But then, as happens to so many geniuses in the art world, things take over their lives and with him, there was alcohol and a chemical imbalance working against him. It’s really an important story and I felt like I should be the one to try and get it to the world and get it to the fan base.”
In addition to investing his own time and financial resources to the project, Rob has recently launched a crowd-funding campaign with some eye-popping perks, including bass lessons from Rob himself, to secure the final piece of financing required to finish the project and get it released. “Words can’t even describe the journey that we’ve been on with this film project,” Rob says. “It’s been a rollercoaster ride. It’s kind of like making an album — you go into the trenches and you have moments of frustration and glory and all that stuff. It’s an intense journey, so I’m so happy to see the finish line right in front of me, and I mean that more in the sense that it feels accomplishment and everybody that’s been involved has put a lot of passion in it.”
Pick up the new issue of Metal Hammer (opens in new tab) (or head over to TeamRock+) for a WORLD EXCLUSIVE interview with Rob and find out how he manages to balance family life with being in the biggest band in metal, his epic film plans for 2015, and, of course, the status of that new album.