Just before the Jaco Pastorius documentary “Jaco” was shown for the first time in South Florida, where he grew up, his friend Bobby Thomas Jr. walked onto the stage, alone in front of a massive screen at Hard Rock Live. It was opening night at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, and all 1,200 tickets had been sold for the Nov. 6 screening, with chairs dragged in from other rooms still unable to seat everyone.
The darkened theater was filled with South Florida musicians, friends, fans and family. Offstage stood the film’s producer, Robert Trujillo, of the rock band Metallica, director Paul Marchand and John Pastorius IV, Jaco’s son, a Pompano Beach resident and a key part of the team that created the documentary about the mercurial genius, haunted by mental illness, who died at age 35 after a beating outside a Wilton Manors bar.
Thomas was one of the last friends to see Pastorius on the night of his fatal attack, a conversation he describes tearfully in the film.
Without a word, Thomas, the Miami hand drummer who joined the iconic jazz-rock fusion band Weather Report in the early 1980s with Pastorius’ help, sat on a chair, put his head down and began to play. The rhythm began quietly, but quickly gained power, a melodic and muscular churn pierced with shards of anger. It was not so much a song as an invocation, a summoning.
As Thomas left the stage, to thunderous applause, two tables reserved for Pastorius’ twin sons, Felix and Julius, and their families, were enveloped in hugs and tears.
One of the themes of “Jaco” is vindication, for an artist who has not gotten enough credit for the culture-changing music he created, and for a part of the country not known for producing such genius. On the screen, plenty of respect flows from the mouths of artists such as Joni Mitchell, Sting, Flea, Geddy Lee, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter. And so premiere night for “Jaco” was filled with lots of tears, impromptu applause, high-fives and cries of “Hell, yeah!”
“Jaco” will be reprised with multiple screenings Thursday-Monday (Nov. 26-30) at Cinema Paradiso Fort Lauderdale and in a Monday showing at O Cinema in Miami Beach, all of which coincides with Friday’s DVD/Blu-ray release of the film and its soundtrack.
“Jaco: The Original Soundtrack” (Legacy Recordings), produced by Trujillo, includes many of the best-known Jaco songs heard in the film (from “Come On, Come Over” and “Portrait of Tracy” to “Crisis”) and his collaborations with other artists, such as Joni Mitchell (“The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines”) and Ian Hunter (“All American Alien Boy”).
The album also includes performers who were invited to use the music as source material for something new. That includes Trujillo himself in a band called Mass Mental that features the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea and jazz bassist Armand Sabal-Lecco, doing a version of “Come On, Come Over.” Also on the album are Tech N9ne (“Shine”), Rodrigo y Gabriela (“Continuum”) and Crosses (“Nineteen Eighty Seven”).
Cinema Paradiso screenings of “Jaco” are 4:30, 7 and 9:15 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 26; 2:15 and 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27; noon and 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28; 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29; 6 and 8:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30. The theater is at 503 SE Sixth St., in Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-525-3456 or visit FLIFF.com. “Jaco” also will be shown 9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30, at O Cinema, 500 71st St., in Miami Beach. Call 786-207-1919 or visit O-Cinema.org.
If you or your out-of-town guests for the weekend are fans of any kind of music, see “Jaco.” If you're a longtime South Florida resident and want to see scenes of the good old days (taken from a rich trove of Pastorius family home movies), see "Jaco." If you're new to South Florida and wonder what makes it unique, see “Jaco.”
Hit the link for more on Pastorius, and Trujillo and others talking about the making of the ‘Jaco’ film.
Hall & Oates singer-guitarist Daryl Hall is great on the monthly web show “Live From Daryl’s House” (latest episode features singer Aloe Blacc at LiveFromDarylsHouse.com), and he’ll be great with John Oates Saturday night at Hard Rock Live (tickets: MyHRL.com). But there’s another Darryl’s house this weekend, the Palm Beach Improv, which hosts Craig Robinson. The actor-musician-comedian can jump in as many hot tub time machines as he wants, but he’ll likely always be Dunder Mifflin sage Darryl Philbin to us. Robinson performs at the CityPlace comedy club Friday-Sunday. Tickets: $27. Info: PalmBeach.Improv.com.
The performance that John Leguizamo is bringing to the Palm Beach Improv Dec. 5-6 won’t be done. He’ll be offering a reading of a “work in progress” titled “Latin History for Dummies.” But especially with a writer of Leguizamo’s skill, even this partially cooked work offers the potential for something raw, rare and fresh. Tickets: $25. Info: PalmBeach.Improv.com.
HIS HEAD’S IN MISSISSIPPI AND HAVANA
You’ll notice a few things different when rock-guitar god Billy Gibbons gets onstage Friday night at the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale. One, he’ll be fronting a band called the BFGs (his initials) instead of ZZ Top. And the sound will draw heavily from his new album, “Perfectamundo,” which explores the shared roots of Afro-Cuban music and the American blues that have served Gibbons so well. Placing his quitar in this new setting is “liberating,” says Gibbons, whose run with ZZ Top is headed toward 50 years. “It's a chance to do some exploration and stretch those sonic ‘sea legs’ a bit. ZZ Top is, in our minds, eternal, so this outing is a kick with something a bit different and enlightening. We’ve placed the percussion-rhythm up front, which gives the repertoire a different skew and emphasis … Everything’s in motion and meshes together like clock gears.” Gibbons says his 2016 may include a trip to Cuba, but will certainly include a new ZZ Top album. “We’ve got a string of ZZ tour dates coming up for the coming year, along with studio sessions to put down the ongoing ideas that continue to percolate with that bluesy thing.” Hit the link for more of the Billy Gibbons interview and information about the show.
Christmas on Las Olas, the 53rd annual holiday street festival, cocktail party and ugly-sweater fashion show, returns to downtown Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday, Dec. 1. Choirs, a sledding hill, a movie (“Polar Express”) and more than 60 food, beverage and vendor booths will fill Las Olas Boulevard and side streets from 5 to 10 p.m. Info: LasOlasBoulevard.com.
Due South Brewing in Boynton Beach (2900 High Ridge Road) will host its fourth annual Black Friday beer release party, which includes a first-time offering of bottled Sweater Weather, which the brewers say “tastes like a caramel gingerbread cookie.” You’ll also find special discounts on other beers and food-truck fare from BC Tacos (noon-5 p.m.) and Wholesome Rollers (5-10 p.m.). Info: Facebook.com/DueSouthBrewing.
DE LA SOUL SATURDAY
Saturday is, of course, Small Business Saturday, when you are encouraged to seek out the unique products created by your neighbors. You will not get more local than the scene at Fort Lauderdale’s Radio-Active Records when the big sales that began the day before continue with a day filled with swag, food (Green Bites), drink (PBR) and local DJs (Kent Lawlor, Benton, Jayjo and Kems), highlighted by a DJ performance from Maseo of trip-hop icons De La Soul. The day (10 a.m.-9 p.m.) also will feature the debut of a coffee collaboration between Radio-Active and nearby Argyle Coffee Roasters, the pride of Progresso Village. And the first 100 customers get a free "Shop Small" cassette compilation of local music. Info: Facebook.com/RadioActiveRecords.
The elves at Cadence Living will reprise their annual yarn bombing of the oak trees in the 400 block of Andrews Avenue in Flagler Village at 4 p.m. Saturday, a perfect lead-in to the Flagler Village Art Walk that night. The event, in which they (and you, if you want to volunteer) wrap the oaks in colorful yarn, includes holiday tunes and winter brews. RSVP (so they know how much yarn to have... and beer) at Hello@Cadence-Living.com. More info: Facebook.com/CadenceLiving.
Like many people, you’d like to say you did Art Basel without actually having to wade into all that hassle and pretentiousness (who said that?). This weekend brings a Basel preview event, Smashed Canvas (from Brewed Events and Wynwood Map), a remarkable 2,500 liner feet of live muralizing to create “one of the largest independently produced mural installations of Art Basel 2015,” during which you can hang, eat (thanks, Batch Gastropub) and drink craft brew in the one-of-a-kind Wynwood Beer Garden (244 NW 29th St., Miami). Beginning Friday, the 10-day event features top South Florida muralists (including Brain Butler, Caratoes, D*Face, Jeff Grass and Tatiana Suarez) painting the entire block between NW Second and Third avenues and 28th and 29th streets. Each night is hosted by a different brewery, kicking off with Oakland Park’s Funky Buddha on Friday, which is sold out. Who said Miami has no taste? Info: SmashedCanvas.com.
Seat belts would come in handy for an evening with Eddie Izzard, the British actor and comedian who can tell jokes on a dizzying array of subjects in multiple languages and, to borrow the Ginger Rogers line, can do it backward and in high heels. The world’s most famous transvestite, performing at the Fillmore Miami Beach on Saturday, is on a world tour that will take him to 28 countries and all 50 United States. He has done his act in French and German and plans to learn Russian (along with Spanish and Arabic) for a return performance in Moscow. He doesn’t see what the big deal is: “The Dutch speak four languages and smoke marijuana.” Hit the link for an Eddie Izzard interview. Tickets to the Fillmore show are $46.50-$87.25. Info: FillmoreMB.com, EddieIzzard.com.
THESE BOOTS ARE GONNA ...
Speaking of high heels, tickets go on sale Dec. 11 for the March 1-13 Broward Center performances of the saucy Broadway musical “Kinky Boots,” with songs by Cyndi Lauper and the book by four-time Tony winner Harvey Fierstein. Tickets start at $35 at BrowardCenter.org. The show has its first South Florida run Dec. 8-13 at the Arsht Center in Miami. Tickets: ArshtCenter.org.
WORDS WORTH SEEING
On Tuesday, Dec. 1, at Coral Gables Art Cinema, Oscar-nominated writer and director Whit Stillman will attend a 25th anniversary screening of “Metropolitan,” his literate, ironically comical look at the last days of Park Avenue’s debutante scene. In Vanity Fair, Mark Rozzo found that, for better or worse, time has been kind to Stillman’s low-budget indie classic: “Twenty-five years later, in the era of the 1 percent ... the film feels like anything but a faded cotillion corsage; it's as crisp as ever.” The screening is at 7 p.m. Tickets: $11.50. Info: GablesCinema.com.
CLEMATIS CALLING YOU
Downtown West Palm Beach breaks out the big bucks with platinum-selling country-rockers Parmalee as the headliner for the holiday tree-lighting party during Clematis by Night on Thursday, Dec. 3. If they haven’t already, expect Parmalee hits such as “Carolina,” “Close Your Eyes” and “Already Callin’ You Mine” to be stuck in your ears Friday morning. The star of the family-oriented, 6-10 p.m. event, of course, is Sandi, the city’s 600-ton illuminated sand tree, but you’ll also get performances by “American Idol” finalist Emily Brooke and Nashville recording artist Bobby McClendon. Admission is free. Info: WPB.org/Clematis-by-Night.
Add Regal Magnolia Place Stadium 16 in Coral Springs to the list of theaters that have responded to the plea of many South Florida parents: “Is there anyplace I can take my kid out AND take a nap?” Regal Entertainment Group just announced it is done replacing all the seats at the Coral Springs multiplex with “luxurious new recliners, including padded footrests.” They are showing "The Good Dinosaur" in 3D, so you'll have those glasses to hide behind. Info: RegMovies.com.