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Weather Report - Mysterious Traveller CD (album) cover

MYSTERIOUS TRAVELLER

Weather Report

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.76 | 115 ratings

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zravkapt
Special Collaborator
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars The most accesible album Weather Report did up to this point. I may be wrong, but I think this is the first album where Zawinul uses synthesizers. On Mysterious Traveller, they head in a similar direction as Herbie Hancock was going at the same time. Compared to the guitar oriented and more rocking Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return To Forever, WR and Hancock went for a funkier, groove oriented direction. Virtuosity is not a virtue here. Weather Report is to Mahavishnu Orchestra what Pink Floyd is to Yes. If that makes any sense.

Bassist Miroslav Vitous only plays on one song here, the rest is played by newcomer Alphonso Johnson. At this point the music starts focusing more on Zawinul's keyboards along with some ethnic influences. "Nubian Sundance" starts with synths and overdubbed crowd noises. Lots of percussion in this song. You hear someone say/sing something which sounds like an African language. Later some African singing. Starting in the middle you hear a melody on piano and synth thats gets repeated. Ends with crowd noises. In case you didn't know, Nubia was the ancient name for what is now Sudan.

"American Tango" is the only song to feature Miroslav on bass. Oddly enough, the bass does not stand out in this song. It begins with percussion sounds. Electric piano starts and stops before a funky beat comes in. Then some great synth. After some great wah-wahed electric piano or clavinet and some sax. "Cucumber Slumber" fades in with sax, percussion and drums. Then synth and electric piano. Later good bass. Near the end some good wahed electric piano and sax.

The title track starts with spacey sounds. Then electric piano followed by phased drums. Then clavinet(?) and bass. Some sax later. Then some good wah-bass and a pattern on the cymbals. Zawinul's keys get more interesting as the song progresses. Ends with spacey sounds. "Blackthorn Rose" is basically just piano and the sax of Wayne Shorter. Very different from everything else on the album.

Wind noises start "Scarlett Woman". Then tom-toms and electric piano. A melody on sax and synth throughout. A fairly mellow laid back song. Later gets louder then calms back down. Ends with wind noises. "Jungle Book" starts with organ. Later flute and children singing. A little bit of acoustic guitar(or bass?) and even some tamboura. Later lots of percussion. A nice way to end the album.

This would be a great place to start with this group. It's not as experimental as earlier albums but also not as commercial sounding as later albums. Some great mid-70s jazz- funk. The production is good and the playing and compositions are not so bad either. I give this a 3.5 but I'll round it up to 4 stars.

zravkapt | 4/5 |

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