Updated: Feb 23
Program Notes of Three Women: The Tragic Legacy of Pastorius, Performed in and in Spite of Neidorff-Karpati Hall
Photo Credit: Halkin Mason Photography
Copyright: © Halkin Mason Photography
"three women" – Jaco Pastorius (Arr. Eliana Fishbeyn)
This is a Jaco Pastorius composition called, "Three Women." The first and only recording of him playing it is from Live in New York City Vol. 5 (Mike Stern / Adam Nussbaum), recorded in the mid 80s. He plays this track at the end on piano called Three Women. It almost sounds like the recording just kept rolling accidentally. It’s about 90 seconds, he stops and starts a few times, names some chords, it doesn’t really have a distinct form or melody, but it’s really quite beautiful. This is my interpretation and arrangement of it.
This chart will feature Eli Goldstein on flugelhorn.
The Legacy of Pastorius and Neidorff-Karpati
And, though I personally felt conflicted about bringing this up tonight, in the spirit of honoring the life and work of Jaco with this piece I feel compelled to point out what I perceive as its direct conflict with the life and work of Michael Niedorff, who this hall is partly named after.
In the last years of his life, Jaco suffered from untreated bipolar disorder and homelessness, living between mental hospitals, jails, and the streets. Michael Neidorff, on the other hand, announced retirement after being one of the highest paid health insurance executives in the United States in 2020, whose profits were derived from up-charging medicine and health care services — most substantially through Medicare and Medicaid.
As reported by the AP and Ohio Capital Journal in Fall of 2021, his company Centene is under investigation in 22 states for these allegations of health care fraud, as well as for securing contracts through gratuity of public officials to profit from psychiatric care in state prisons — all of which Centene has not admitted fault to, but has set aside $1.1 billion dollars in settlements for. From my perspective, the profiteering of health care executives is directly linked to the lives of the many who are, like Jaco, caught between substandard psychiatric facilities and the prison system.
Of course, the many being disproportionally those in either or both economically and racially marginalized groups. While, of course, no single individual is responsible for the systemic injustices of for-profit health care or mass-incarceration — and nothing as nuanced as a human life can be purely categorized as good or evil — honoring both of these men in the same room without saying anything felt incompatible.
Thank you for listening and I hope you enjoy the piece.
Manhattan School of Music, M.M. in Jazz Composition '22
Excerpt from "three women" (Jaco Pastorius, arr. Eliana Fishbeyn)