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Weather Report - Heavy Weather CD (album) cover

HEAVY WEATHER

Weather Report

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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tedg@wiredmag
4 stars Jaco Pastorius asserts more creative control here, becoming an equal partner with Zawinul and Shorter. To some listeners, this is bound to be an exciting development - after all, Pastorius is a premier innovator on electric bass - but it doesn't revive the glory of the band's best records. The stunning high point is "Birdland," a Zawinul composition that translates Weather Report's considerable strengths into something like a big-band format. Unfortunately, the rest of the album doesn't meet the same standard. At best, the other compositions rely on a fairly predictable sax/keys/bass/drums format that lacks the daring of the group at its best and seems stale next to earlier efforts, in which style, arrangment, composition, improvisation, and instrumental roles were so arrestingly fluid. Alas, Weather Report has become a fusion band.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#39549)
Posted Friday, July 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the best of Weather Report's "Jaco era". I'll go ahead and tell you already that this album is essential for bass players everywhere, but now with the album itself. I have a lot of Jaco's grooves on this album Memorized. :-D Heavy Weather isn't my favorite of Weather Report's discography, but I like it a lot. The album has great compositions, the album just isn't..even. It's hard to explain, but anyway...

Birdland - 8/10 - Good Zawinul tune. Great bass parts too. The "jazz guitar" tone at the beginning is Jaco playing false harmonics on his bass for those that didn't know. However, even though it is a good tune, IT SHOULDN'T BE OVERPLAYED. :-)

A Remark You Made - 7/10 - Great ballad. For some reason, Zawinul's synth sound makes this tune sound REALLY DATED. The live version on 8:30 is much better, and Jaco, Wayne, and Zawinul have more solo room.

Teen Town - 8/10 - Wonderful Jaco tune. This song is an electric bass standard. It's too short though..

Harlequin - 8/10 - One of my favorite tunes on this album. I LOVE the piano in this, and the synth doesn't make this tune sound so dated.

Rumba Mama - 8/10 - Really cool drum improv, Manolo Badrena and Alex Acuña are the masterminds behind this tune. Their shouting of random [&*!#] in Spanish kind of throws me off though.

Palladium - 9/10 - I LOVE THIS TUNE. The beginning KICKS ASS. Great latin style tune. The bass line is definitely something to catch. The percussion is spectacular as well.

The Juggler - 7/10 - More explorations of Zawinuls "world music" sounding stuff. It's all right. Not my favorite at all.

Havona - 9/10 - My second favorite on this album. The synths make it sound a little dated..but not too much. The percussion is great on this one as with Palladium. The bass line kicks ass, and Jaco doubling the piano/synth part half the time is definitely something to listen to.

Final score - 64/80 - 4 stars - Final rating - 4 stars

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Send comments to seabre (BETA) | Report this review (#42202)
Posted Tuesday, August 09, 2005 | Review Permalink
joey@urbanwt.
4 stars As a bass player, I have to love this album. It introduced me to Jaco's bass playing.

The heart-tugging bass refrain of "A Remark You Made" is probably a finer moment than the test-piece of "Teen Town".

For the general jazz-prog listener, its a fun, rewarding album, but its safe for the general listener. Don't expect it to travel as far from the beaten track as Mahavishnu, for example.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#42326)
Posted Wednesday, August 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 Stars.

This is clearly a great jazz album but I miss the adventure of it. I really loved it at first spin, but I have to conclude that this is very simplistic jazz/fusion. If you like relaxing jazz-rock with the BASS GOD (Jaco Pastorius), then this is for you. Jaco Pastorius is indeed a brilliant fretless bass player who made some bass virtuosos like Jonas Reingold (Flower Kings) and Pedro Aznar (Pat Metheny and Seru Giran) sound exactly like him.

Birdland is easily my favourity track in the album, even if it is the most commercial. It is just so damn catchy. I love the melody! "A remark You Made" is laid back and a little slow, but you can get to hear JAco Pastorius' lovely bass sound. There are also synthesizers present. The short "Teen Town" is a spot allowed for Jaco Pastorius. Bass freaks should listen to this track. Harlequin and Juggler are softer tracks while Paladium is fast paced, and Rumba Mama is a drum solo ruined by some irritating Spanish vocals. Havona has amazing bass playing, especially at the end.

Highlights: Birdland, Teen Town, Havona

Letdowns: None

My Grade : B/C

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#72952)
Posted Friday, March 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
daveconn
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Beginning with an irresistible invitation to the dance ("Birdland"), Heavy Weather is a brilliant balancing act that shows off every facet of this remarkably talented band. After the opening "Birdland," a truly celestial celebration of sound, Heavy Weather delves into the gentle, peaceful "A Remark You Made," only to shake off that dewy sleep with Pastorius' patented percussive magic on the invigorating "Teen Town." It's this alternating between different styles and composers that likens hearing Heavy Weather to looking at a finely cut gem in the light. The musical ground covered on this outing, and the unerring quality of the compositions themselves, are a powerful combination. Individually, these songs rank with the band's best: "Harlequin" melting like a timepiece in the sun, Zawinul's magical portrait of "The Juggler," "Palladium" dancing like a bug in dappled sunlight, each arrangement a near reinvention of the band that played on the preceding track. Invariably, my favorite track on Heavy Weather is the track playing at the moment; even the live percussion solo "Rumba Mama" shines when the time comes. Note that the Columbia/Legacy remaster from 1992 sounds terrific on disc and features nice liner notes from Peter Keepnews, so I'd start there first. And I'd start here if you're approaching Weather Report for the first time. This is arguably their greatest album, and thus one of the great fusion albums of all time. Best of all, nuances in the music continually come to light, so even on a rainy day (like today) an old standby like Heavy Weather can make staying indoors a pleasure.

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Send comments to daveconn (BETA) | Report this review (#74029)
Posted Tuesday, April 04, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars With Heavy Weather, Weather Report hit the jackpot in 1977. It is arguable that they were edgier on some other albums, and some compositions on other albums are more complete than most on this, but as a whole Heavy Weather works really, really well.

I'm not going to go into details and give ratings to different pieces. The biggest hit is Birdland, with its recognizeable opening riff. The piece only gets tighter and tighter towards the end. A true gem, if you ask me. Teen Town and Harlequin are interesting pieces of music with some great solos from Zawinul, Shorter and Pastorius.

The B-side (what's that? the teens are asking...) is a bit lighter, but then it is okay, because the fireworks of the A-side is so overwhelming.

There is only one problem with Heavy Weather AND ProgArchives, and that is the fact, that Heavy Weather is NOT prog. This is pure fusion JAZZ, and has really little or nothing to do with prog rock. However, that doesn't shade another fact: Heavy Weather is a brilliant album, whateverthe style, and an exellent addition to any collection, be it prog collection or not.

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Send comments to OT Räihälä (BETA) | Report this review (#82179)
Posted Wednesday, June 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
bhikkhu
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Prog Team
4 stars What a fantastic album. I was introduced to this at a time when I didn't know much about jazz. It immediately became a highlight of my music collection. Copies have been lost, or worn out, but I always replace them as soon as possible. "Heavy Weather" will always be found in my home.

This is fusion at its best. "Birdland" became an instant classic, and sounds just as vital today. There are some lovely mellow moments. "A Remark You Made" is very touching. "Harlequin" is very smooth, and quite playful at times. "Teen Town" should be heard by any fan of the bass. No, scratch that, it should be heard by everyone. If for nothing else, to see just why Jaco Pastorius is held in such high regard. Not impressed? Then listen to "Havona." The man was from another planet. Actually, the whole band goes nuts on this one. "Rumba Mama" is a great Latin drum shout, and a bit of an odd number for an album like this.

This music is actually more jazz than rock. It is however some very proggy jazz. I view this as a masterpiece of music. If I were not constrained to the realm of prog, it would get five stars. It gets four, because I don't believe it is essential for a prog collection. Get it anyway.

H.T. Riekels

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Send comments to bhikkhu (BETA) | Report this review (#88461)
Posted Tuesday, August 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Teen Town

This album is ecstatic. Here, jazz is mixed with a kind of 'symphonism': the orchestration and the counterpoint aren't own of jazz. Also, the sonorities are an innovation: the fretless bass and the synths are quite strange for jazz in those days. The harmony arrangement was succesful, not dude; I love the duets between Zawinul and Shorter, these counterpoints are great, really. They sounds like a complete brass section. Rhythm, at WR's works isn't the classic jazz rhythm: some of latin influence and sometimes without swing.

Musicians were awesome, but I have to emphazise in Jaco Pastorius. He changed the way we understand the bass: thechnique, skill, effects, harmonics, etc...

'Birdland': exciting theme, great opening. 'A remark you made': an emotional ballad, I love the sax in this work. 'Teen Town': Do you want to know who was Jaco? Listen to this work. It's awesome. No more words. 'Harlequin': a smooth theme. 'Rumba mama': Alex Acuña plays the percussion and sings a latin song (a rumba); nice song, but non-essential. 'Palladium': one of the most "symphonic" themes, if you allow this expression. 'The Juggler': what a great melody! The main melody at this track can stay into my head for many hours. Beautiful work. 'Havona': inspiration and skills, great song.

If you want to have a complete collection of prog-movement, you have to buy some jazz-fusion albums. Heavy Weather is one of them. 4 stars.

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Send comments to Marcos (BETA) | Report this review (#130128)
Posted Tuesday, July 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
2 stars 2.5 stars really!!!

With Black Market, Heavy Weather is the best-selling jazz-rock album of all time, but by all means it is completely over-rated on this writer's advice. With Chester Thompson out (left for Genesis) and replaced by Aruna, this album pretty well follows its predecessor's path, and the artwork is very "prog" and their best yet. One of the remarks I have for this album is it lacks power but it seems its powers are virtuoso playing (not denying it), soul (this cold jazz has me really wondering whether it is indeed the case) and but certainly not finesse, IMHO.

With the jazz crossover jazz-rock of Birdland, the album starts fairly weakly, partly because of a twee motif chorus and lack of power, something I simply don't expect (or want) from WR. But the pain is not over as A Remark You Made is one of those ugly syrupy love ballad for late-night slows jazz clubs. Teen Town is a Pastorious excuse to put his bass on the forefront while Harlequin musically sits between Birdland and Remark, with a Zawinul synth sound sounding much like Toots Thieleman's harmonica. The whole side sounding listless to this listener.

The flipside is an altogether different affair, starting on an African percussion Rumba Mama live ditty which has absolutely no musical relation whatsoever with the rest of the album. But comes Palladium with the first power chords opening the song, but that's about has loud as it will get on the whole album: indeed the track settles in a funky groove where Shorter's sax and Zawinul's Rhodes dominate the forefront, but we are in the MT and TS album mode, which means killer funk. Easily the best track of the album. The Juggler juggles with the styles previously approached on the album between funk jazz, soft jazz, and syrupy fusion. The closing Havona is bettering the average of the album with a changing structure and some very interesting developments.

As warned ahead of time (read my BM review), HW is really not the masterpiece everyone seems to be hinting at and if not for the flipside, it would sink heavily. Directionless, often powerless (Aruna is no Chester Thompson) and "anything goes" seem to be the unwanted trademark, here. With only the Havona and Palladium tracks being worthy of earlier albums, it is just possible this writer is missing the point of this stage in WR's career, but whether or not, I just don't like it.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#137821)
Posted Wednesday, September 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
Flucktrot
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Heavy Weather features absolute highlights with the opening and closing tracks, though the stuff in the middle does not match the liveliness or catchiness of the bookends. If you are interested in getting more familiar with Weather Report, this is not a bad place to start, as they are not quite as subdued (read: boring) as on other less inspiring albums. However, beware that their sound seems a bit sanitized, and if you want raw, power jazz, you should look elsewhere.

Highlights: Birdland, Havona. If you're not familiar with Birdland, you probably should be--possibly reason enough to check out this album. Nothing groundbreaking, but irresistably catchy. I remember playing this tune in my high school band--good memories! With Havona, Weather Report finally take the gloves off and decide to make some serious fusion. This one has some great keyboard runs, energetic drum outbursts, and of course great bass from Pastorius (either fast rhythm playing or soloing--he's great in both modes!).

The rest: I guess there aren't any lowlights, but the other songs really fail to distinguish themselves to my ears. We have the mellow (and forgettable) tunes (A Remark You Made, Harlequin), the short and playful tunes (Teen Town, Rumba Mama) and the songs that attempt fusion but end up doing little of anything (Palladium, The Juggler).

My take is that to create good jazz, you at least need a combination of catchy melodies, virtuosic playing, or intense interplay. Birdland and Havona by and large deliver at least one or two of those combinations each. The rest of the songs don't, although there's nothing annoying to be found on this album. Nice album to have, but certainly not necessary, even for jazz proggers.

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Send comments to Flucktrot (BETA) | Report this review (#143421)
Posted Wednesday, October 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This probably the most popular Weather Report album. This album features some great musicians like the greatest bass player ever Jaco Pastorius, Weather Report founder keyboardist Joe Zawinul , and playing on sax Wayne Shorter. Some great standout tracks are the opener Birdland, a very popular jazz tune by this band. Another fave of mine is A Remark you made, this s ore of a more smooth jazz song with some amazing bass playing by Jaco, an Weather Report classic. Teen Town features some great drumming by Alex Acuna. A couple of my other faves are The juggler and Havona. Havona is the standout track on the album, my favorite track. Weather Report is nothing like Mahavishnu or Return to forever, they are more jazzier and include latin jazz into the mix sometimes. If your looking for a more mellow fusion get this, they are less chaotic then the other jazz fusion giants. A fusion great 4 stars

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Send comments to JROCHA (BETA) | Report this review (#150806)
Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Poppy jazz-fusion at its slickest, you really couldn't find any tune in the fusion arena much catchier and dancier than ''Birdland''. HEAVY WEATHER is one of the more known Weather Report albums, but I believe Jaco Pastorius's appearance as the sole bass player has something to do with it. He adds a technical dimension to the group as nobody could play a flurry of notes like Jaco, and the horn-like sound of his bass is quite unique. Unfortunately, his over-abundant skill can get in the way of a good composition; ''Teen Town'' starts off nice, but the bass here distracts the good drumming (from Jaco) and sax playing.

The last three tracks are the best from the album, ''The Juggler'' being a choice pick from me as its mesmerizing atmosphere goes virtually unnoticed. ''Birdland'' isn't too bad, but gets old after some time. Between that track and ''Palladium'' is a bunch of nothing. ''Rumba Mama'' is the most questionable track here serving little more than Acuna and Badrena getting some composer credit. For the last three tracks alone, HEAVY WEATHER is a worthy album. Many a progster will be floored by Jaco's skill, but I find the true genius of Weather Report to be in founders Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter.

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Send comments to Sinusoid (BETA) | Report this review (#182988)
Posted Sunday, September 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars My late exposure to the music of Weather Report has made me realize (belatedly) the range of influence they enjoyed at the height of their popularity in the mid 1970s. How many other bands of the era, from all over the world (PASSPORT in Germany; SECRET OYSTER in Copenhagen; several of the so-called Canterbury groups; even the Italian symphonic proggers of PFM in their "Jet Lag" phase) were tracing from the same template created by Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter?

But popularity doesn't come without a price, and there's more than a hint of complacency behind this 1977 album, the band's most commercially successful effort. Whatever sharp edges their music may have once had were carefully smoothed away here, and the result is an undeniably pleasant but hardly challenging model of mainstream Jazz-Rock Fusion, unlikely to offend even the knee-jerk prejudices of the resolutely anti-prog music press.

The ubiquitous hit song "Birdland" sets an attractive pace, opening the album with a relentlessly catchy rhythm and more hooks than a bait shop. But elsewhere the LP hardly lives up to its assertive title and apocalyptic cover art. The percussion duo of Alejandro Acuña and Manolo Badrem are allowed a few energetic minutes of uninhibited mayhem on "Rumba Mama" (recorded live at the 1976 Montreux Jazz Festival), but all the flailing timbales and manic shouting sound misplaced alongside the more circumspect studio jamming elsewhere on the album.

The musicianship is, I hardly need add, never less than outstanding throughout: any group formed around a nucleus of Zawinul, Shorter, and the virtuoso skills of bass guitar legend Jaco Pastorius is going to be simply beyond criticism. But here they pulled their musical punches somewhat, sacrificing just enough of their collective individuality to attract a wider spectrum of listeners.

In the overall timeline of the band it remains an important album, but despite all the rewards and acclaim hardly their best effort.

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Send comments to Neu!mann (BETA) | Report this review (#221843)
Posted Friday, June 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
Kazuhiro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The fan to enumerate this album in the highest masterpiece in the history of the music of WR might be not few. The composition of the tune that passes still enough and the melody never to feel old tell the listener the charm. The line's succeeding in the complete replacement of the route that derived from Miles Davis by "Black Market" with the color of WR and showing the establishment of WR resulted.

The line of Zawinul-Shorter established in "Black Market" was a direction of which the color of zawinul had gone out strongly at the same time as showing the directionality of WR. And, the performance of Pastorius that participates in the two works is a result of having a presentiment of new WR. It becomes a loose flow but the result of the connection to this album to the end. As for Shorter that plays the role of Co-Producer in the former work, it moves to assistant Producer and Pastorius has been promoted to Co-Producer in this album. It is understood that it was existence from this point not rare for very WR Pastorius [yuu]. And, it is guessed that Zawinul put trust at the same time for Pastorius.

The composition of the tune of "Black Market" completely decided the route of WR. And, WR became a legend by this album in the item of Jazz/Fusion. The fan to enumerate the performance of Pastorius in one of the charms of WR is not few. His Bass has been completed by perfect Groove and the melody. And, it is proof to make it an embodiment splendidly by using the phrase that musical instruments other than Bass play for the method of his composition that is called him a genius.

The melody such as "Teen Town" is composed of the melody that the current Bass player doesn't hit on. And, the tune , for example, one of the successes of this album is "Birdland". These tunes are copied by various musicians and influence the world.

Element and easiness to listen. a certain kind of POPAnd, the line of Zawinul-Shorter- Pastorius has been established by this album. The composition of the glittering tune that leaps can ..one of the masterpieces.. be counted by dashing out from items of Jazz/Fusion such as "Havona" and "Palladium" in the history of Jazz/fusion.

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Send comments to Kazuhiro (BETA) | Report this review (#227711)
Posted Tuesday, July 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Heavy Weather" is the 7th full-length studio album by US jazz rock/fusion act Weather Report. The album was released through Columbia Records in March 1977. There are a couple of changes to the lineup since the last album "Black Market (1976)" as Jaco Pastorius now handles all bass playing in Weather Report. Percussionist Alejandro Neciosup Acuña predominantly plays drums on "Heavy Weather" and new percussionist Manolo Badrena handles various percussion on the album. Keyboard player Joe Zawinul and saxophonist Wayne Shorter are the usual suspects in the lineup.

"Heavy Weather" signals quite a big change in direction and sound for Weather Report. Compared to their earlier more experimental jazz rock/fusion material this album features tight compositional structures and very little improvisation. There´s also much more focus on memorable themes. A kind of pop sensibility that Weather Report have not focused on before. Depending on your preferences this will probably either turn you off or on. I´m leaning towards being turned off but "Heavy Weather" is a diverse album (or a mixed bag if you want to put on the negative glasses) with both really brilliant tracks and some that are not that interesting.

The opening track "Birdland" is without a doubt Weather Report´s best known and most commercially successful track. While it´s a very accessible and quite easy listening jazz/pop song it´s very cleverly composed and arranged. A real treat this one. The second track "A Remark You Made" is a composition that unfortunately crosses the line of good taste and gives me associations to easy listening eleavator muzak or even worse background music to soft porn/erotic flicks. And it´s usually not the music that´s the biggest attraction in those kind of movies now is it? The main theme in the song is very well composed though and very memorable. So I don´t question how skilled the band are as composers (or musicians for that matter), but their choice of notes and atmosphere. "Teen Town" is a Jaco Pastorius composition with a beat that´s akin to disco without ever becoming disco of course. The fourth track on the album "Harlequin" is decent but not spectacular in any way. "Rumba Mama" is a short live percussion and a capella sung track by the two percussionists in the band. Again nothing too special. Then we have "Palladium" which is one of the strongest compositions on "Heavy Weather". Nice´n´funky. "The Juggler" is back in soft territory but otherwise a good composition. "Havona" closes the album and what a way to end an album! Just feast on that bass playing by Jaco Pastorius. It´s probably the strongest track on "Heavy Weather" (along with "Birdland") and one of the few tracks on the album that focuses a lot on fusion tinged playing.

The sound production is professional and clean but lacks a bit of the warmth of earlier recordings. It´s still a pleasant and well sounding seventies recording though. Overall "Heavy Weather" is a pretty decent release by Weather Report. The occasional excellence of tracks like "Birdland", "Palladium" and "Havona" are however not enough to make me rate it higher than with a 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#235469)
Posted Friday, August 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars A landmark in jazz fusion music, Weather Report's Heavy Weather contains masterful and varied music, ranging from the virtuosic to the placid. Each note is infused with feeling; any music lover should experience this album once in his life- though hopefully many more.

"Birdland" Once upon a time, I played guitar in a high school jazz band, and this was one of the first pieces we ever performed. While we were good, I don't think we quite compared to the original! In my opinion, this is a masterpiece of upbeat jazz, full of fun melodies and noteworthy instrumentation. I love the high-pitched instrumentation working alongside the saxophone, as well as the light drumming and masterful fretless bass-playing. It turns out our humble high school jazz band was just one of several crews putting their own spin on Joe Zanwinul's remarkable instrumental, as it has rightfully become a jazz standard.

"A Remark You Made" Weather Report offers a more sensual touch with soft piano, mellow saxophone from the master Wayne Shorter, and bass leading the way at times. Everything is delightfully smooth, so smooth the listener almost melts. A mellow synthesizer solo takes over toward the end, carrying a rich, velvety tone.

"Teen Town" Jaco Pastorious is the star of this piece of this terse, funky piece, occasionally not even playing at all to let everything breathe and highlight the percussion.

"Harlequin" Retaining the sound of the previous track but adopting a gentler pace, this one has prominent bass. Long notes on the saxophone soar over piano runs. Thanks to the drumming, the overall sound becomes fuller, making this a dynamic work.

"Rumba Mama" A throwaway live track, this is like a pimple on an otherwise flawless face. It consists of percussion and shouted Spanish words- a display of Manolo Badrena's talent, to be sure, but nothing more.

"Palladium" Peppy and full of character, this piece grooves around an amazing rhythm section, featuring electric piano, saxophone, and synthesizer all helping one another in toting the melody.

"The Juggler" Though most of the other pieces are amazing jazz works, this one is the true progressive rock stroke of genius. A poised rhythm with dashing percussion allows for a stylish synthesizer lead and gritty saxophone to do their thing. Overall, this is a melodious, almost Medieval piece, bursting with creativity and pleasing moments.

"Havona" The final instrumental begins with a synthesizer bit, and stellar drumming from Alejandro Acuña enters. There are other lead instruments, including fantastic piano and sputtering saxophone, but it's hard not to focus on the bass.

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Send comments to Epignosis (BETA) | Report this review (#242691)
Posted Saturday, October 03, 2009 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The jazz rock/fusion category is perhaps the most subjective in all of Progdom. Some enthusiasts judge albums in this genre solely by the individual virtuoso performances captured on tape. In other words, they crave the WOW factor more than any other aspect. Nothing wrong with that. Others are more impressed by the mind-blowing spontaneous combustion achieved by combining the right mixture of musicians in a particular session or concert. Still others want the artists to push the envelope to the very edge of musical anarchy. Me, I'm too unknowledgeable and/or ignorant regarding the splendid science of blending jazz with rock that creates a living, breathing hybrid of both to delve too deeply into the mechanics so I just rely on how the recording makes me FEEL. That's why discs like Stanley Clarke's "School Days" and Billy Cobham's "Spectrum" never wander far from the top of my charts. They make me happy when I listen to them. Period. And that's what Weather Report's awesome "Heavy Weather" does for this native Texan of simple means and tastes. As far as it goes with instrumental music in general, the elation sensation can't be overrated.

The six albums this band made before this one have their merits/shortcomings and several are outstanding but they were all leading up to the creation of this, their masterpiece. I and several of my peers in the 70s had been avid admirers of the group all along but none of us was expecting this incredibly cohesive casserole of memorable compositions and flawless production neatly tucked inside such an arresting, slap-me-into- next-week cover illustration. The total package floored most everyone who was exposed to it and even a raft of Plain Janes and John Does who didn't know fusion from a contusion had a copy of it in their stack of LPs right alongside "Frampton Comes Alive." It was the perfect soundtrack for those heady times yet its pristine artistry will keep it vibrant and wholly viable for centuries to come. This is, indeed, Weather Report's finest hour. Having said that, I confess openly that I haven't heard everything these guys recorded during their esteemed career but I can't imagine that they ever topped this gem. Equaled it, maybe, but never bettered it. (I'm not through with them by a long shot so I'll let you know.)

They open with keyboard wizard and co-founder Josef Zawinul's celebratory "Birdland." If I were to meet somebody who'd never heard a note emanating from the jazz rock/fusion universe this would be one of the first numbers I'd spin for them to contemplate. I mean, what's not to love about it? Its infectious tempo never flags for a split second and every phase of the song exudes unadulterated joy. Alejandro Acuna's steady drumming creates an ever-tightening tension as he coils up the band's energy like a diamondback rattler ready to strike, finally releasing it via the orgasmic explosion of the tune's glorious big band- like theme midway through. The tight arrangement is immaculate and the track's pyrotechnic dynamics are breathtaking even on the hundredth listen. The entire ensemble works together in exquisite harmony and the six minutes it takes to travel from start to finish go flying by like the flash of a strobe. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who won't at least acknowledge the lofty plateau of musical sublimity they achieved with "Birdland." It's a song for the ages.

Almost any tune assigned the task of following that spectacular curtain-raiser would pale in comparison but Josef's "A Remark You Made" proudly stands on its own. It's as soothing as a stroll along a tranquil Kauai beach at sunset and Wayne Shorter's elegant soprano sax is soulful and fluid as it flies overhead like a seagull. Bassist extraordinaire Jaco Pastorius and Zawinul paint a backdrop for him in deep, sky blue colorings before Josef takes off and zooms into the stratosphere with a synthesizer ride to die for. (Grab your lady love, dim the lights and uncork the best wine in the house; this is made for romance. I'm just sayin'.) The finger-blistering, booming "Teen Town" is next and it's a fine showcase for Jaco to display his immense talent. He burns with hot passion from A to Z, yet the song is far from being just another patience-testing bass guitar extravaganza. As in the majority of their other compositions, melody is always held in the highest regard and they never forsake its supreme importance as being the essential ingredient in their art. That endearing characteristic alone is what separates these guys from most of the herd. Shorter's "Harlequin" follows and on this cut Zawinul delicately mixes acoustic piano with his synthesizers brilliantly. (The man was a master of his craft.) The song is complex and multifaceted, to be sure, but it's never so strange that it leaves the casual listener behind. It's totally accessible to even the novice. Towards the end Alejandro dazzles on the drum kit and shows that there's more to him than meets the ear.

Variety is unquestionably the spice of life and they really shake things up with the inclusion of Acuna and percussionist Manola Badrena's wild "Rumba Mama." It's a live track so full of fiery, over-the-top enthusiasm that it's damned near impossible to repress a grin or two during its 2:12 of existence. Don't be timid, just go with the flow and you'll have no regrets. Wayne's "Palladium" is a continuation of that Latin atmosphere, albeit on a much more rational, sane level. While the tune that precedes it might induce a spastic convulsion that would be welcomed and encouraged at an Aboriginal fertility hootenanny, this one will gently beg your lazy feet to get up and samba lightly through the kitchen. Once again the group's inventive, melodic lines rule the realm, dawning a happy brightness onto your psyche that'll elevate even the darkest of moods. Music serves many a purpose but none more life-enhancing than that.

Josef's "The Juggler" possesses a grace and suspense that befits its title to a tee. It shifts from light to shadow in the span of a heartbeat and the tactful interplay going on between the drums and percussion is bliss to behold. It's a delightful piece of music. They end the album with Pastorius' energetic "Havona" and, if this number is any indication, the city that lies beyond the pearly gates is a busy, bustling metropolis. The song is dense and intricate without ever becoming noisy or confusing. Zawinul's piano ride is a scorcher, Shorter slices through the challenging chord progression like a knife through warm butter and Jaco literally raises the heavenly roof with his bass runs. (Have I mentioned that his fretless tone is incomparable?) This cut has more peaks and valleys than a Six Flags roller coaster as it builds to a white-hot intensity and then, before you know it, the thrill ride suddenly pulls into the station smooth as a silk tie and it's over. To quote my favorite Jedi knight, "Exhilarating, that was."

Some may argue that this eclectic bunch sold out with this effort but I beg to differ. I think it was a case of the public finally catching up with them, not Weather Report kowtowing to the lure of commercial success. "Heavy Weather" sold over half a million copies for two good reasons. First, "Birdland" was and still is irresistible. Second, the music contained on this record appealed to people of all ilks because it's just plain GREAT. It's hard to argue against quality presented with this kind of class. This is a jazz rock/fusion album you can play in the presence of your wife or girlfriend and not have her roll her eyes at you in exasperation (even if she thinks saddle tramps like George Straight and Kenny Chesney hung the moon and planets) while, at the same time, avoiding feeling like you had to lower your standards to the sub-basement level. I still get a kick out of this album and it never fails to put a smile on my aging mug. And that, my fellow proggers, is worth a trillion times its weight in gold.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#245874)
Posted Friday, October 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars It is difficult for me, being an outsider to the world of jazz, to imagine why fusion bands like Weather Report are looked upon with derision for their apparent lack of devotion to ture jazz. Maybe it's just this particular album, but I think that this effort is jazz first rock second. I certainly do not mean that in a negative way, however Heavy Weather cought me off guard.

The album kicks off in real style. Birdland is absolutely fantastic! It is funky, up tempo and dynamic. I can't help but tap my feet and get into the groove on this track. Like I said, I'm no jazz aficionado, but it is easy to see why the piece is popular among traditional jazz musicians. It is the high point of the album by far. Too bad it comes first and mixes up expectations for the remainder of the album.

The next track is A Remark You Made. Quite frankly I don't really comprehend what would qualify this as fusion per se. It sounds like a straight forward smooth jazz track. It's nice, but I think it would be better used to get sway on with a sophisticated lady. It might have a place on this album but after the Birdland it's really a letdown.

Luckily the follow up is Teen Town. It is all bass, and if you have ever perused my previous reviews I'm a fan. It is totally progressive and showcases the infamous Jaco Pastorius doing his thing. Not the master work that Birdland is, this one would be my preference without it. The funny thing about this one is that at several points you anticipate the solo to break out into a full on funk romp but it never does. Its fine by me, Teen Town is great, but it gets me wondering about how cool it would sound if they drifted a little more in that direction.

Harlequin is in the same vein as A Remark You Made. It isn't able to pick up on the momentum that is started with Teen Town. I'm sorry to say for anyone who is a fan of this piece, Zwainul puts down some cool keyboards, but this feels like it takes way longer than 4 minutes to get through and not in a good way.

Now for the oddity of the album, Rumba Mama. What a left turn! I am almost dozing after Harlequin then out of now where comes a live recorded performance of what I suppose falls a little more on the out there side of the jazz spectrum. It swims in African influence. Cool drum solo, but I can't really say I dig the vocals.

Following Rumba Mama, I'm awake again and this time Heavy Weather rewards me by breaking the slow fast cycle with Palladium. This one is another keyboard dominated piece. The way Zwainul is playing here, the more the better. It isn't an all out barage of funkiness, but I think this piece probably best captures the idea of Jazz-Rock Fusion in my mind.

Of all the slow pieces on this album, the Juggler is probably my favourite. It is a very dynamic piece. Loud to quite, fast to slow. This one does it all. The theme is very cool and the trippy synth which comes in around minute three is a treat.

Here we are. Track 7 of 7: Hanova. Love the intro. It makes me feel like I am watching 80s TV or something. Cool cool sound. The bass back too! It had been hiding for a bit. This piece manages to be both driving and exiciting while staying low key. Good closer.

I am a jazz noob. Anyone whose made it this far into the review can tell. I like this album, but I like it for different reasons than most of the rest of my collection. I consider it more the start of something beautiful between me and jazz than a continuation of my taste for progressive rock. Good, but not essential is the right way to sum this baby up from the prog perspective. You need an ear for jazz to really appreciate it. I am not quite there yet. But hey, that's why we can edit our reviews. For now, 3 out of 5 stars.

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Send comments to R-A-N-M-A (BETA) | Report this review (#252413)
Posted Monday, November 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Commercially most successful Weather Report's album, and I can name it "Jaco's Weather Report's" album. If you will compare this music with few first ban's albums, you will hear a big difference. All the atmosphere of experimentation, innovations is gone, and you have here just a comfortable jazz and pop-jazz-fusion, with almost big bandish sound, deep bass and simplistic electronic keyboards.

This orchestral feeling without doubt came with Jaco Pastorius, who was a big orchestral music lover for years ( happily, some other his recordings with orchestras are far more innovative). If Miroslav Vitous was competent bassist, but stayed a bit in a shadow, Jaco bring bass front man concept, but at the same way he finally destroyed all experimental band's spirit.

Yes, it is pleasant music of good quality, but Latin jazz, pop-jazz tunes and be-bop arrangements sound better in seaside resorts summer clubs, than associates with progressive fusion.

2,5 only, but because of my respect to their great previous works, rounded to 3.

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#277634)
Posted Monday, April 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Heavy Weather was a surprise hit in a long string of minor hits and misses on Weather Report's part. It also marked the first proper album with the bass player Jaco Pastorius who finally got to show what he was actually capable of by not only showing off his instrumental but also songwriting skills. The album is decided into eight compositions with a wide range of sounds and styles featured throughout it's 38 minutes.

Birdland is a quirky little tune with soft sounding jazz passages that might be considered too simplistic coming from a band like Weather Report but I personally enjoy it immensely. It definitely works well as an album intro that kicks the material off on a cheerful note that makes the listener want to pick up this recording just to hear the album opener. Up ahead is another wonderful Joe Zawinul-penned composition called A Remark You Made that plays out like a more traditional low-key jazz performance. It features one of the most beautiful performance by Wayne Shorter and Zawinul's melodic delivery is just out if this world. Pastorius' short demonstration of skill on Teen Town is quite impressive even though the composition itself suffers a bit from it while Shorter's Harlequin is another great low key performance that just doesn't reach the intensity level of A Remark You Made.

Band democracy rules might have justified the addition of a short live rumba piece by Badrena/Acuña but other than that it's mostly a throwaway track. The second Wayne Shorter composition, called Palladíum, is much more rhythmically driven but traditional performance while Zawinul's final contribution to the album is another competent work on his part. The closing track is a Pastorius-contribution that works a whole lot better as a band performance and not only as a vehicle for Pastorius to show off his great bass guitar wizardry.

Heavy Weather shows many sides of Weather Reports music which in my opinion becomes a victim of over-ambition on the part of the band members, making the album seem very disjointed in the process. Still, it's hard to really criticize a band on the peak of their career meaning that this is an excellent Jazz-Rock/Fusion recording well worth exploring.

***** star songs: Birdland (5:57) A Remark You Made (6:51)

**** star songs: Teen Town (2:51) Harlequin (3:59) The Juggler (5:03) Havona (6:01)

*** star songs: Palladium (4:46)

** star songs: Rumba Mama (2:12)

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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#285997)
Posted Friday, June 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
2 stars Heavy Weather? A tropical beach party breeze you mean.

Heavy Weather was the first Weather Report I ever heard and the impression was so devastating I didn't want to hear anything else from this band, I even stopped exploring fusion for about 20 years. If it wasn't for a couple of half decent bits, I'd give the album the lowest possible rating, that's how strongly I would advise against it.

Hot on the heels of Return To Forever's commercial success with Romantic Warrior, Weather Report tried a similar move towards a more polished and easy-listening type of thing, but they failed miserably. Where RTF kept the music complex and challenging, Weather Report chose to over-simplify and watered down their earlier intricate compositions to easy-listening melodies.

Except for Teen Town, Havona and to a certain extent also Birdland every track presents an assault on the ears and is certainly not worthy of the Weather Report tag. The worst examples of cheesiness are presented by tracks such as A Remark You Made and Harlequin. Syrupy pop-jazz, it makes me cringe, and almost long to hear something from Lady Gaga. Go figure.

One of the best selling jazz-rock albums of all times? Why am I not surprised.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#297118)
Posted Thursday, September 02, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars So this is the biggest selling Jazz Fusion album of all time is it? I'm always a bit wary of facts like that when it comes to music. It's a bit like Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' being the biggest selling album of all time and therefore the best. Wrong. Very wrong.

'Heavy Weather' is an excellently clear recording and has an upbeat and cheery air about it. I'm a real sucker for fretless bass and Jaco Pastorius doesn't let me down on 'Heavy Weather'. I could listen to him all day. Poor Jaco with his bi-polar disorder, depression and alcoholism. Apparently he drank so much that if you put a lighted wick in his mouth it would burn for 3 days.

I must admit I'm not so keen on the borderline cheesy saxophone, however Joe Zawinul's keyboards are excellent providing the glue that holds everything together.

This is a very accessible point of entry into Jazz Fusion if you're new to it. There's nothing too challenging here. It's just a nice, colourful album with some fantastic musicians doing what they do best and making it sound so easy.

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Send comments to Dobermensch (BETA) | Report this review (#393877)
Posted Friday, February 04, 2011 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars "Heavy Weather" is the Weather Report album most people know. That's mainly because Birdland became such a big hit, even sparking The Manhattan Transfer to add words and make it a vocal hit as well.

But to me, the success of the album lies mostly in Jaco Pastorius. His wonderful and groundbreaking bass work is what keeps me interested when I listen to the album. Joe Zawinul also manages to keep his easy listening tendencies under control on this album. You will find none of those synthesized jazz harmonica sounds and smooth jazz textures.

The album still doesn't rank with the great fusion bands of the seventies, but I think record sales, not high art is what they were aiming for.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#569552)
Posted Thursday, November 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
thehallway
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Weather Report took some twists and turns during their career, Joe Zawinul's increasing focus on the poppier side of jazz being one of them. In between the realms of ultra-cheesy pop and groovy fusion is where the best of the band's music lies, with Heavy Weather probably being the defining album of this period. Because of the line-up, and the synchronised peaking of the songwriters' talents, it is fairly agreed upon that this was the band's crowning glory; not just their finest work, but the album that launched them into a new level of stardom and artistic respect.

Hit single 'Birdland' is primarily responsible for this, opening the record with a groovy bang and a plethora of unforgettable melodies. There has not since been such a good example of a jazz instrumental that you can 'sing along' to. The piece also broadcasts Zawinul's genius harmonically and rhythmically. His more laid-back ballad 'A Remark You Made' only confirms the power of the five-man group, albeit in an entirely more stylistically varied way. Wayne Shorter's tasteful sax licks, Joe's keyboard and synth dabbling and Jaco Pastorius' virtuosic fretless bass always share the limelight three ways, which is undoubtedly more interesting than when members of bands take it in turns to really play well (and play mediocre backing for the rest of the time). These guys have a unique and consistent balance between soloing and backing, such that none of them are ever really doing either. It's a teamwork that is rarely seen in jazz.

Pastorius offers 'Teen Town' as a vehicle for spouts of syncopated bass and sax, driven by relentless percussion and drums. The closer to side one, 'Harlequin', is not up there with the band's best work, lacking a great melody or rhythm to focus in on. Still, the song has some quality playing and interchanges. 'Rumba Mama' was recorded live, and showcases drummer Acuña and percussionist Badrena doing their thing. They prove that what they bring to the table is really what completes Weather Report; without their thick walls of syncopated rhythm, the band wouldn't have half of it's characteristic drive and energy.

'Palladium' is Shorter's finest composition in my opinion, exchanging a variety of grooves and melodies in an explosive atmosphere, it's progressive structure lending itself towards the carnival- esque climax where steel drums hammer out the main melody. The saxophonist has always been known for his handling of harmony, and there is no shortage of that here either; it should have closed the album! Zavinul's 'The Juggler' is very sweet, with acoustic guitar adding something really special, while the finale belongs to 'Havona', Jaco Pastorius' first major composition. It's a driving piece of music with great bass and chords, but maybe that's it.

In some ways, Heavy Weather is just a high-quality songbook, where other Weather Report albums have been more flowing and thematic. That works in it's favour though, because of the aforementioned surge in writing ability from the band's main writers, as well as their consistent virtuosity when playing together, their chemistry, and their diverse handling of moods. There is little on the album I would change, apart from the running order perhaps. Would I even classify it as jazz? I would classify it as a landmark piece of art that drew upon jazz, amongst other, more modern musical styles.

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Send comments to thehallway (BETA) | Report this review (#581776)
Posted Sunday, December 04, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Heavy Weather is the bands highest selling record, and it isn't difficult to see why. Musically, this isn't nearly as adventurous as the 'Romantic Warriors' or 'Inner Mounting Flames' the of the genre. What we have here some easy listening jazz fusion (though it is a bit closer to jazz than rock). I wouldn't say this is a completely bad thing, but after a few listening it seems as if there should be substance.

'Birdland' is the obvious star of the album, and is considered a jazz standard. 'Teen Town' has some amazing driving bass from Jaco, as does 'Havanah.' The remaining tracks are average at best.

This is a decent album, but far from the best Jazz fusion has to offer.

5/10

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Send comments to Mr. Mustard (BETA) | Report this review (#786680)
Posted Wednesday, July 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Heavy Weather is an unusually weak and lazy album by an otherwise wonderful band, Weather Report. This weakness is especially disappointing after the sequence of great albums they had made before Heavy Weather (the immediate predecessor, Black Market, being probably the coolest).

It all begins with the first two songs on Side A, amounting to almost 13 minutes of dumbed-down, repetitive pop music. A note to the producers: If you are going to record some generic pop stuff, at least have the decency to make the songs short & sweet ... 3 minutes if perfectly enough, maybe stretching into 4 minutes with a slowly fading refrain.

The saving grace kicks in with the 3rd title, Teen Town, where the most impressive Mr. Pastorius finally gets around to playing his trademark bass solo. Unfortunately, the rest of the band does next to nothing on this track, and Mr. Pastorius's impro hits the limit switch in less than 3 minutes .. what a bummer.

Things improve somewhat after Teen Town, and a new quality of energy is ushered in by the übercool exotic chants in the beginning of the Side B, but, all in all, this already short (37') album is a little short on innovation and virtuoso musicianship that Weather Report used to be famous for.

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Send comments to Argonaught (BETA) | Report this review (#911179)
Posted Thursday, February 07, 2013 | Review Permalink

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