My introduction to Joni Mitchell’s music came thanks to Jaco Pastorius, and my quest to get everything Jaco recorded during his career.
As a result, I became a huge Joni Mitchell fan. I ended up buying all her records – not just the four Jaco recorded with her.
I can say this: Hejira might be my favorite album of all time. I’m not alone in that assessment, based on this part of the Wikipedia entry on the album:
“Characterized by lyrically dense, sprawling songs, and the fretless bass playing of Jaco Pastorius, Hejira marked Mitchell’s turn towards the jazz-based music she would implement on later recordings. The album did not sell as well as its predecessors, peaking at No. 22 in her native Canada. It reached No. 13 on the Billboard 200 pop album chart in the United States, where it was certified gold by the RIAA, and No. 11 in the UK, where it attained a silver certification. Critically, the album was generally well received, and in the years since its release, Hejira has been considered one of the high marks of her career.”
Behind the Scenes
Over the years, I’ve been involved in a few Jaco projects: his website, the Portrait of Jaco: The Early Years project, and helping to promote the Jaco documentary film. I’ve had a lot of conversations with Jaco’s family and other insiders. One of those involved Hejira, and sound engineer Henry Lewy. I was told that Jaco loved his tone on this record so much (thanks in large part to Henry), that he carried the record with him on subsequent recording dates to demonstrate the sound he wanted.
Jaco performed on 4 tracks (out of 9) on this landmark album. To me, the last track (“Refuge of the Roads”) was the masterpiece performance on this masterpiece of an album: