Weather Report – Heavy Weather 1977

Weather  Report – Heavy Weather 1977
1997 Issue.

Jazz

Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter didn’t truly fulfill Weather Report’s artistic and commercial potential until they brought on-board a bassist who could function as an equal partner in the musical equation, like co-founder Miroslav Vitous, whose main shortcoming was his inability to play funk. In renegade bassist Jaco Pastorius, the band found a formidable composer and improvisor, who possessed deep roots in funk and R&B, yet was equally at home in modern jazz and Afro-Cuban settings. Not coincidentally, the presence of this innovative fretless bassist on Heavy Weather gave Weather Report the rhythmic/melodic dimension it had been missing since Vitous’s departure, as evidenced by his voice-like declamations on Zawinul’s ballad “A Remark You Made.” On Zawinul’s chart-topping, big band-styled arrangement of “Birdland,” Pastorius provided the kind of big, sweeping orchestral gestures the tune required, while on the shifting canvas of Wayne Shorter’s “Harlequin,” the bassist’s ability to articulate complex chords allowed him to function as a string section unto himself. And on his own “Havona,” Pastorius not only soloed with horn-like artistry, but combined with drummer Alex Acuna and percussionist Manolo Badrena to give Weather Report its funkiest rhythm section ever.
By Chip Stern.
**
This excellent 1977 release opens with the highly popular Birdland, a synthesizer-heavy piece that introduces the awesome talents of the greatest bassist in the world, Jaco Pastorius. As a bass player myself that was heavily influenced by Jaco, I was floored by his incredible technique on this recording, which includes a heady brew of harmonics, false harmonics, chords, and occasional bursts of lightning fast 64th note triplets. This is not to say that Jaco could not lay back – the moody and haunting Zawinul composition A Remark You Made features some very tasteful and restrained playing. The Wayne Shorter tune Harlequin and Zawinul’s The Juggler are also very nice and similar in texture to A Remark You Made. The truly odd track is the the percussion driven piece Rumba Mama, which features a live performance by a duo comprised of excellent drummer Alex Acuna and percussionist Manola Badrena, who also “sing-shouts” in Spanish at the beginning of the piece. Although I really enjoy the entire disc, for me the highlights of Heavy Weather include Birdland, A Remark You Made, the Jaco tunes Teen Town and Havona, along with Wayne Shorter’s superb Palladium. Although Joe Zawinul’s use of synthesizers is heavy (a lot of Oberheim Polyphonic and ARP 2600) the sounds are natural and blend well with the jazzier and “straighter” aspects of the music. Then again, I am a huge prog rock fan so the synthesizers probably would not bother me much. If you like this recording, Black Market (1976) is also superb and in addition to Zawinul and Shorter, features a large and revolving rhythm section including: Narada Michael Walden (drums), Chester Thompson (drums), Jaco (bass), and Alphonse Mouzon (bass).
By Jeffrey J. Park.
**
Besides being perhaps the greatest ever jazz/rock supergroup, Weather Report actually managed to live up to their billings, without reservation.
They produced two astoundingly brilliant documents of their prowess, Black Market and Heavy Weather. Of the two–and this is more personal preference than anything clearly discernable–I believe Heavy Weather shines brightest.
Why?
Their ability to perfom at the highest levels of musical endeavor and innovation and still create a record that would appeal to the largest possible audience.
Surely “Birdland” and “Teen Town” are among the very highest accomplishments of what might be dubbed “accessible jazz.” Combining simple, catchy melodies with progressive chord voicings and impossibly bubbly rhythms, they lend themselves both to extensive radio play and extended musical contemplation. Quite a feat.
The remainder of the disc, featuring a couple of Wayne Shorter’s catchier compositions, “Harlequin” and “Palladium,” also features “The Juggler,” a magically mysterious offering from the pen of Zawinul, and “Havana,” a stone rocker courtesy of Jaco Pastorius at the absolute height of his compositional prowess.
The absolute pinnacle of jazz/fusion, casually, effortlessly, blowing out of the water the entire jam band scene, Heavy Weather is not to be missed.
Jan P. Dennis.
**
Josef Zawinul- Oberheim Polyphonic Synthesizer, Arp 2600 Synthesizer, Rhodes Electric Piano, Acoustic Piano, Vocal, Melodica, Guitar, Tabla
Wayne Shorter- Tenor and Soprano Sax
Jaco Pastorius- Bass, Mandocello, Vocals, Drums, Steel Drums
Alex Acuña- Drums, congas, Tom Toms, Handclap
Manolo Badrena- Tambourine, Congas, Vocal, Timbales, Percussion
**
01. Birdland 5:58
02. A Remark You Made 6:52
03. Teen Town 2:54
04. Harlequin 4:00
05. Rumba Mama 2:13
06. Palladium 4:46
07. The Juggler 5:04
08. Havona 6:02
**


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