Archive for the Weather Report Category

Weather Report – Live and Unreleased 2002

Posted in JAZZ, Weather Report on December 22, 2010 by whoisthemonk

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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Weather Report – Heavy Weather 1977

Posted in JAZZ, Weather Report on December 15, 2010 by whoisthemonk

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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Weather Report – Solarizarion's 1974

Posted in JAZZ, Weather Report on December 11, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Weather Report – Solarizarion’s 1974
Vinyl, LP, Unofficial Release
Recorded December 08, 1974

Jazz

Weather Report was an influential jazz fusion band of the 1970s and early 1980s, combining jazz and latin jazz with art music, ethnic music, r&b, funk, and rock elements (in heavily varying proportions during the years), often demonstrating high levels of compositional and improvisational skills.

Being one of the groups most frequently associated with both fusion and jazz-rock may be seen as ironic, as Joe Zawinul once said in a Down Beat interview he “did not understand what fusion meant” and Pat Metheny once revealed he and Jaco Pastorius sometimes used to talk about how much they disliked that musical style called “jazz-rock”.
**
Joe Zawinul-  Keyboards
Wayne Shorter-  Saxophones
Alphonso Johnson-  Bass
Chester Thompson-  Drums
Dom Um Romao-  Percussion
**
A1. Mysterious Traveller (13:07)
A2. Nubian Sundance (11:57)
B1. American Tango (13:00)
B2. Black Torn Rose (16:34)
**

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Weather Report – Sweetnighter 1973

Posted in JAZZ, Weather Report on November 25, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Weather Report – Sweetnighter 1973
1996 Issue

Jazz

Their artier, freer-form beginnings starting to get phased out, Weather Report’s transitional third album, Sweetnighter, is the band’s first move toward the general style that they would eventually become known for. Whereas Weather Report’s previous two albums relied more on collective improvisation and in particular took an open, experimental approach to percussion that could be interpreted as grooveless, Sweetnighter’s R&B and funk leanings demanded that the rhythm section produce something else entirely. It was this change in direction that contributed to the marginalization of bassist and co-founder Miroslav Vitous, as well as new drummer Eric Gravatt.
It is certainly telling of how far modern jazz had strayed from its roots that a bassist so talented and accomplished as Miroslav Vitous could be considered incapable of adequately playing R&B-derived bass patterns. In any event, Joe Zawinul deemed Vitous’ style inappropriate for the new direction and so he had multi-instrumentalist Andrew White — whose previous work with the band had been playing French horn on I Sing the Body Electric — handle primary bass responsibilities on the long vamps “Boogie Woogie Waltz” and “125th Street Congress,” as well as on Wayne Shorter’s “Nonstop Home.” Dissatisfied with the work of drummer Eric Gravatt for similar reasons, Zawinul brought in Herschel Dwellingham to fill in on a sizeable portion of the album.

The two long tracks, which account for more than half of the running time, are what Sweetnighter is remembered for. I prefer “125th Street Congress,” the funkier and edgier of the two. It’s just a long funky jam; Weather Report’s own take on the emerging jazz-funk that Herbie Hancock would make massively popular later in the year on Headhunters. Neither it nor “Boogie Woogie Waltz” are revelatory and they both probably go on longer than they should, but I do think that they do have a very cool sound. I just wish that they were augmented by some beefier sax. I realize that Wayne Shorter had no idea that Kenny G would one day co-opt the soprano saxophone to the extent that virtually anything played in its upper registers invites comparisons, but “125th Street Congress” could have been perfected by some fiercer, dirtier sax.

All of the other pieces are pretty good, but Miroslav Vitous’ “Will” is the only one that doesn’t sound ancillary in comparison to the jams. Held aloft by Dom Um Romao’s chucalho and Zawinul’s hypnotic keyboard textures, it is both stately and powerful — a fitting finale for Vitous as a composer in the band.
By Matt P.
**
The first reason to get this disk is aesthetic. “Sweetnighter” is a unique recording: it includes the least structured, open-ended music that Weather Report recorded, and it was the last one they made before technological progress armed Joe Zawinul with more synthesizers than was perhaps healthy.

Some jazz fan acquaintances used to point to this recording and complain that Zawinul had kidnapped Wayne Shorter and was holding incommunicado in some safe house in Newark. To them there were no solos. They missed the point. Rather than soloing over an accompanying rhythm section, Shorter plays a kind of running commentary, coming in an out of a mix in which the bass(es) and percussion are given equal billing to Shorter’s sax and Zawinul’s keyboards. Sometimes everyone solos at once and it takes very, very accomplished musicians to pull this off without it degenerating into cacophony.
Yet it would be misleading to pigeonhole this record as Weather Report surrenders to the groove. Perhaps the most remarkable composition on the disk is Miroslav Vitous’ ethereal “Will” which is percussion-less. Indeed, one of the remarkable things about this record are how varied the six pieces are: two open-ended jams – “Boogie Woogie Waltz” and “125th Street Congress;” a fairly conventional Shorter composition “Manolette;” two Zawinul tone poems a la “In A Silent Way” or “His Last Journey,” “Adios” and “Non-Stop Home;” and Vitous’ transcendent “Will.”

The other reason to get this disk is the way it sounds. The mass conversion of analogue tapes to digital formats has yielded some real disasters – e.g. Shorter’s “Native Dancer” where entire instruments disappeared from the mix. This recording, in contrast, is a case in which the move to CD is a clear improvement over the original vinyl. Now the two basses on “Boogie Woogie Waltz” and “125th Street Congress” are clearly distinguishable, and similarly the multitudinous percussion instruments are more clearly defined. As another reviewer noted, never have Moroccan clay drums sounded so good. Roller toys and Israeli jar drums, either.
**
Prior to founding Weather Report in 1971, Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter were already well-known jazz musicians (players & composers) with impeccable credentials; and, as most fans are aware, both men were major contributors to Miles Davis’ “IN A SILENT WAY”(1969) and “BITCHES BREW”(1970). It was therefore quite natural that Weather Report’s first couple of efforts would be closely related: while containing some brilliant flashes, these early recordings were less successful (if interesting) continuations of the musical aesthetic set forth in the aforementioned landmarks. The group’s third recording (“SWEETNIGHTER”: 1973) was the breakthrough that established what most fans think of as the “Weather Report sound”. The album inaugurated an approach that satisfied diehard fans while opening doors to “casual” listeners who were not kindly disposed to more esoteric and self-consciously “serious” forms of jazz. The adoption and elaboration of funky rhythm & blues “grooves” (a la Curtis Mayfield, et al ) was a vitally important ingredient that lent the music a propulsion and flow analogous to the bop swing feel that had for decades characterized jazz rhythm. To be sure, Weather Report was not the first band to do this; what set them apart was the absolutely seamless manner in which they integrated R&B grooves, achieving an authentic fluency that allowed them to break free from the reigning “rhythmic paradigm” while simultaneously retaining a connection to the older swing feel by virtue of shared (African) roots.

“Boogie Woogie Waltz” and “125th Street Congress” are lengthy (12 min + ) tunes that exemplify the aforementioned dynamic: bluesy melodic fragments played over hypnotically repetitive grooves, the interjections of oddly placed modulations balancing the rhythmic regularity and surprising the listener as the tunes shift gears toward conclusion. This new rhythmic feel was also the ideal foundation on which to build more elaborate “orchestral” textures. Zawinul’s sophisticated application of electronics was, in terms of timbre and concept, a marked improvement over previous efforts; in his hands, synthesizers were more than the self-indulgent and often hideous sounding toys that have given “fusion” music a bad name. An aura of the mysterious and ethereal was yet another prominent Weather Report characteristic, especially exemplified by Shorter, who contributes two tunes: “Manolete” is a texturally complex wash of Spanish-tinged soprano sax and keyboards while the delicate “Adios” is a tune of elegiac tenderness.

The paths started with “SWEETNIGHTER” illustrated that Weather Report had found its true voice and would over the years record an extremely influential body of work that constitutes the pinnacle of “fusion” music. Highly recommended.
By Ian K. Hughes.
**
Josef Zawinul- Electric and acoustic piano, synthesizer
Wayne Shorter- Soprano and tenor sax
Miroslav Vitous- Electric and acoustic bass
Eric Gravatt- Drums (tracks 2, 4 and 6)
Dom Um Romão- Percussion
Maruga- Percussion
Andrew White III- Electric bass (tracks 1, 4 and 6), English horn (tracks 3 and 5)
Herschel Dwellingham- Drums (tracks 1, 2, 3 and 6)
**
01. Boogie Woogie Waltz (13:04)
02. Manolete (5:59)
03. Adios (3:01)
04. 125th Street Congress (12:15)
05. Will (6:21)
06. Non-stop Home (3:55)
**

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