CD Review of Trio of Doom Live by Trio of Doom

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Trio of Doom Live
starstarstarstarno star Label: Columbia/Legacy
Released: 2007
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While guitarist John McLaughlin and drummer Tony Williams – two jazz fusion legends, to be sure – get equal billing on the cover, let’s face it: there’s no denying that this CD is really all about bass legend Jaco Pastorious. That’s not to deny the impeccable playing of the other two members of this one-time dream band. On the contrary, in some ways, it’s their virtuosity and professionalism that keep the two sessions collected here from falling apart. But given the scant amount of recorded evidence of the genius of Jaco, due to his untimely death 20 years ago at age 35 (after a brutal beating by a nightclub bouncer in Florida), almost any release of previously unavailable material deserves to be treasured.

And Trio of Doom is just that: a treasure. Up until now, the two sets from this power trio haven’t been much more than a footnote in Jaco’s history. This release changes all that. Assembled to perform at the historic 1979 Havana Jam festival in Cuba, and christened the Trio of Doom by Pastorius himself, the three players were each at the peak of their formidable musical powers, and the intersection of their talents yielded legendary results.

Here for the first time are the complete recorded works of this amazing supergroup, including the previously unissued live tracks from the Havana concert, three tracks recorded the following week in New York, and two previously unavailable alternate takes. That’s seven previously unreleased tracks in all (not bad for a CD that only offers 10 tracks to begin with). Remixed and remastered under the supervision of McLaughlin himself – who, for a quarter of a century, adamantly refused to release the live tracks due to some alleged ill behavior on Jaco's part that McLaughlin felt tainted the recordings – Trio of Doom is a must-have for both Jaco completists and jazz fusion aficionados alike. And the liner notes by Jaco biographer Bill Milkowski, with an introduction by McLaughlin, are rich in detail and biographical tidbits.

Jaco, John and Tony never appeared in public together again, never recorded again after the post-Havana NYC ‘clean-up’ sessions. Jaco died in 1987, Williams in ’97. McLaughlin is 65. This CD pinpoints a moment in time when three overwhelmingly gifted and noteworthy players got together and redefined the concept of a power trio.

~Una Persson