Weather Report – Live and Unreleased 2002

Weather Report – Live and Unreleased 2002

Jazz

(The only official Weather Report album in almost 20 years!
Covers the band live from 1975-1983 in multiple venues
Features such Weather Report alumni as Jaco Pastorius, Alex Acuna, Alphonso Johnson, Peter Erskine, Omar Hakim, Chester Thompson, Manolo Badrena, Victor Bailey, among others.
Produced with the full collaboration of Joe Zawinul & Wayne Shorter
Excellent new liner notes/Rare photos from the Columbia archives
Excellent sound – 24-BIT digitally remastered).
**
To date, Weather Report has been documented accurately exactly once in a live setting, and that was on a Japanese import called Live in Tokyo in 1972. All of their U.S.-released product, including their double-live set 8:30, was truncated, though it did capture some of the excitement the band was capable of producing at their most effectively intent and focused. Unfortunately, Live and Unreleased goes no further in demystifying the truly mysterious that elemental process that allowed them to move from one idea to the next no matter how far distant, with no apparent bridges in between. Being a collection of tracks from various live dates from 1975-1983, with wildly varying personnel, that cannot be expected. That said, what does transpire here showcases what an intense — and accessible — listening experience Weather Report could provide in a concert hall at a moment’s notice. One of the more confusing aspects of Live and Unreleased is its sequencing. In trying to showcase the band in as many settings as possible, some continuity is lost. When you begin with a a performance of Wayne Shorter’s “Freezing Fire,” recorded in 1975, with Alphonso Johnson on bass, Alex Acuna on percussion, and Chester Thompson on drums, then move directly to Shorter’s “Plaza Real,” recorded in 1983 at a much bigger hall (same city, though, London), with Victor Bailey on bass and Omar Hakim on drums, and then jump back again to Joe Zawinul’s “Fast City” from 1980, with Jaco Pastorius on bass and Peter Erskine on drums, you have traveled a long way in the band’s evolutionary process without the regard of context. While Zawinul and Shorter were constants and regarded as the band’s leaders, no one can question Pastorius’ role as a dominating influence as both a player and as a composer — not to mention his and Zawinul’s competitive/conflicting energy. That’s missing here. Some moments are more smooth than others, as on disc two’s transition from “In a Silent Way/Waterfall,” both by Zawinul and recorded in 1978, to the title track from Night Passage, recorded with virtually the same band — Pastorius and Erskine in the rhythm section — in 1980 and then on to Shorter’s “Port of Entry” from the same date. Here, glimpses are cast into the shadows of the real lightning that could (and often would) strike when the band was — as most often they were — on their mettle. And while Live and Unreleased is perhaps true but misleading in the sense of presenting the band at their live best, there is some wonderful and challenging music here, such as Pastorius engaging both Shorter and Zawinul on “Black Market”; the double-timed “Teen Town,” with Manolo Badrena acting as a wizard of small percussion; “River People,” with Erskine triple timing the beat to get Shorter’s solo out from under the bank of Zawinul’s keyboards and Pastorius supporting him, the sheer arpeggiattic flights of fancy Zawinul was capable of in mode such as on “In a Silent Way/Waterfall.” All of these are wonderful moments in a collection of tracks that has nothing whatsoever to apologize for and is a more than worthy addition to any fan’s library. Ultimately, this still leaves room for Legacy to come up with a live Weather Report Box, perhaps documenting the Jaco years. Here’s to hoping.
By Thom Jurek, All Music Guide.
**
Weather Report was the Jazz Fusion group of the 70’s & 80’s. During the period inwhich Ken Burns declared “Jazz died”, Joe Zawinul & Wayne Shorter created some of the most intelligent and creative music period. Blending worldly rhythms around well thought out compositions and throwing in some improvisational fire to boot, Weather Report grew to become one of the most recognized music groups in the Columbia stable. During their 15 year recording duration, Weather Report went through four very distinct periods, each of which evolved around the bass player and a revolving group of percussionist. These periods are defined by Miroslav Vitous (71-74), Alphonso Johnson(74-76), Jaco Pastorious (77-82)and finally, Victor Bailey (83-86). This CD captures pieces of six various concerts from three of those four periods. It would have been nice to throw in a live version of “Boogie Woogie Waltz” or “125th Street Congress” from the Miroslav Vitous period. It could have painted a very colorful picture of how the music evolved over the 15 year time-span that Weather Report recorded.
The music is hot and furious in places and flat out cool and uneven in others. I wish the producers would have sequenced the songs in the order they were recorded instead of trying to make this sound like one long concert. The hottest tracks seem to come from the 1975 concert. “Freezing Fire”, “Cucumber Slumber” and “Man In The Green Shirt” just flat out smoke. On these tracks the chemistry is magical – Zawinul and Shorter are locked in while the rhythm section cooks. Shorter blows his best when the bassist pushes him, and nobody did it quite like Alphonso Johnson. The Jaco Pastorious band excels on “Elegant People”, “Black Market” and “Port of Entry”. Here again, Shorter smokes while Jaco flirts and dances around him on bass. The rhythm sections always provided plenty of energy for the band to build an effective launching pad. This is great stuff.

The tracks that don’t work well include “Where The Moon Goes”. It was easy to like the studio version of this song because Manhattan Transfer worked their magic on the vocals, but the vocorder synthesizer version here does not work at all. It sounds out of place – yet, points to where the group was headed at the time – downhill. If you can program your CD player to play the tracks in the order they were recorded, it becomes very obvious that the magic had left by the time the 1983 concert was recorded.

Overall, this double-disc is a good representation of Weather Report in various live settings. I can only hope that somewhere in the Columbia vaults is the rest of that November 27, 1975 London Concert awaiting release, along with a couple of live tracks from the 71-74 Miroslav Vitous band. Until then, this will have to do.
By  A. Davis.
**
Joe Zawinul- Keyboards, Vocals
Jose Rossy- Percussion, Concertina
Robert Thomas, Jr.- Percussion
Chester Thompson- Drums
Alex Acuña- Percussion, Drums
Joe Zawinul- Synthesizer, Fender Rhodes, Vocals, Piano, Piano (Electric)
Manolo Badrena- Percussion
Alphonso Johnson- Bass (Electric), Chapman Stick
Victor Bailey- Bass (Electric)
Peter Erskine- Drums
Omar Hakim- Drums
Jaco Pastorius- Bass (Electric)
Wayne Shorter- Sax (Soprano), Sax (Tenor), Lyricon,
**
Cd 1:

01. Freezing Fire (Live) 8:15
02. Plaza Real (Live) 7:03
03. Fast City (Live) 6:49
04. Portrait Of Tracy (Live) 5:56
05. Elegant People (Live) 4:27
06. Cucumber Slumber (Live) 11:39
07. Teen Town (Live) 6:29
08. Man In The Green Shirt (Live) 10:31

*
Cd 2:

01. Black Market (Live) 9:28
02. Where The Moon Goes (Live) 12:05
03. River People (Live) 6:57
04. Two Lines (Live) 6:15
05. Cigano (Live) 5:59
06. In A Silent Way/Waterfall (Live) 5:45
07. Night Passage (Live) 5:53
08. Port Of Entry (Live) 8:08
09. Rumba Mama (Live) 1:15
10. Directions/Dr. Honoris Causa (Live) 8:38
**

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