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Weather Report - Sweetnighter CD (album) cover


Weather Report

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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4 stars The Weather Report sound coallesces here, with an emphasis on propulsive grooves, searching melodies, and subtle interplay among several excellent players. The compositions are somewhat slight and monochromatic - especially compared to the variety and volatility of the first two albums - but all the elements are in place for the group's coming series of brilliant records.
Report this review (#39540)
Posted Friday, July 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars WHOA BABY! As some of you may have already guessed, I severely enjoy this album. Though WR isn't all about rock, they're sure about being progressive and being damned good at it. Rising from the ashes of the post-bop era of the 1960s, WR leadmen Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter were instrumental in working with Miles Davis on his early adventures into rock and what would come to be known as fusion. WR's first two albums, the self-titled and I Sing the Body Electric, see WR simultaneously pushing jazz and rock to the limits while still trying to find a voice and a sense of unity for the band. Sweetnighter, released in 1973, sees it all come together. It is here that Zawinul finds his obsession with the groove, and throws it into the rock and jazz mix. The 13 minute Boogie Woogie Waltz is without a doubt the highlight of the album. Its pulsing 3/4 groove is interlaced with drum and bass lines written in 4/4, and the band moves easily between the two time signatures. Zawinul's signature end-of-the-song theme is first used here, which comes in at about 8:45. This format, improv/groove leading to a melody/theme, would be employed on most of their albums leading up to Jaco Pastorius' introduction to the band. Even though Miroslav Vitous departed from the band after this album, this album sees the band realizing their true creative potential. Highly recommended! If you enjoy this album, also check out Mysterious Traveller.
Report this review (#43189)
Posted Wednesday, August 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Sweetnighter has been called a "transitional" record, which is what polite critics say when good bands make erratic albums. Little if anything on here comes up during a discussion of the band's best work, yet like Miles Davis' sessions from the late '60s listeners have pored over these songs looking to connect the musical genius to the music itself. What sets Sweetnighter apart from other Weather Report albums (and in fact ultimately defines the effort) are two extended pieces from Zawinul, "Boogie Woogie Waltz" and "125th Street Congress," that feature the band riffing over funky grooves in a sort of stationary workout. The former features a wah-wah guitar effect from Zawinul (who seems intent on re-inventing his instrument for each track here), only revealing the musical ghost in the machine at the end. On "125th Street Congress," it's Wayne Shorter's turn to take the lead with some lightning-fast solos drawn from the fount of Miles, the song underpinned all the while by Andrew White's remarkably funky bass line. Though some critics have suggested that the softer, flightier compositions in between give the record variety and balance, for me the scales are irretrievably tipped to the weightier tracks. Shorter's predictably sentimental "Manolete" is too sleepy by design to penetrate our consciousness, even when the percussion rattles in our head like a Mexican jumping bean. Zawinul's "Adios" is a pleasant nod to Coltrane's ethereal experimentation, but clocking in at under three minutes it's ultimately no more than an intermission. The one song that actually does serve to balance the extended funk jams is Miroslav Vitous' "Will." More substantive than "Adios," this track benefits from Zawinul's mesmerizing tones, perhaps serving as a direct inspiration for some of the music on Brian Eno's landmark Another Green World. The mysterious "Non-Stop Home" closes things out, driven by the dual engines of drummers Eric Gravatt and Herschel Dwellingham while Zawinul and Shorter carry out a musical dialogue on some different plane. Recorded in the first week of February, the songs on Sweetnighter are no more than catalysts for Zawinul and the band to experiment with new sounds and explore rockier (or at least funkier) terrain. With two drummers and two percussionists (Muruga, Dom Um Romao), the rhythms are more pronounced than usual, which can be seen as confining (especially in contrast to the liberating influence of Jaco Pastorius). Labelling Sweetnighter a transitional effort belies the point that Weather Report was always a band in transition. It's an interesting piece of the puzzle, if not an integral one.
Report this review (#74027)
Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
PSIKE Team & Band Submissions
5 stars Normally it's a duty for me using electric guitars for producing good Fusion music - but WEATHER REPORT is an exception. This music is unique and with nearly nothing to compare - produced with two different drummer and bass player. Nevertheless it is of great unity. First of all the strong drum/percussion section is remarkable which controls all the tracks. Andrew White is also adding a tremendous groove to the sound. Is it improvised or strictly composed? Hard to say. I can remember - long time ago - a friend of mine got this album in his collection. I was always curious for a chance to hear it because the music was so fascinating to me.

'Boogie woogie waltz', 'Manolete' and '125th street congress' are similar with the groove. A funky bass and the perfect rhythmic percussion are navigating the tracks. Wayne Shorter circles around like a butterfly with his sax. Joe Zawinul plays without competiton. 'Adios' and 'Will' are psychedelic a lot like a starship gliding through space and time.

'Sweetnighter' is a masterpiece of the fusion genre. I also recommend to check out 'Mysterious traveller' which is nearly on the same high standard.

Report this review (#82181)
Posted Wednesday, June 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars To be totally unique in the world of jazz rock/fusion is not an easy thing to accomplish but Weather Report achieved that with every album they released. Evolving from their personal and direct involvement with the highly complex and revolutionary late 60s experimental music of the legendary trumpeter Miles Davis, they were able to translate this radical movement into sounds that even unjazzified minds could absorb and enjoy. They were absolute masters at creating soundscapes that would take you to places you'd never thought of visiting.

Keyboard man Josef Zawinul's "Boogie Woogie Waltz" starts things off perfectly. It's a song that mesmerized me instantly the first time I heard it. Within a matter of hours I had it spinning on my turntable with the volume cranked. It has a simple rhythmic beginning sparsely populated with instrumentation that pops up and then disappears like prairie dogs peering out of their holes. It's as if the musicians are feeling each other out in short, exploratory bursts. The beat becomes more defined after a while with conga and percussion joining the drums. After a change of key you start to decipher the vague outline of a musical theme like seeing the first strokes of an artist's sketch on canvas. It slowly takes shape bit by bit and then one of the most uplifting, delectable, infectious melodies you will ever hear rises to dominate the tune. To me it's just one of those magical, contagious airs that I can't get enough of so its repetition never grows old. Perhaps that's because Miroslav Vitous' and Andrew White's bass performances are so incredibly good underneath it all. I also love the dense, definitive ending. I (obviously) consider it to be one of the greatest songs they've ever recorded. Saxophonist Wayne Shorter's "Manolete" is next and it transports you to a more eclectic dimension at the start before it falls into a nice groove generated by drummer Eric Gravatt. It's an adventurous tune with a flexible, ever-changing melody that will challenge your ears. As they near the end Shorter's fluid Soprano Sax locates the heart of the song and takes an inspiring, triumphant stance. Then Zawinul's "Adios" leads you on a short, melancholy stroll that is both moody and meditative. It's a bit of a drone but it doesn't last long enough to get boring. "125th Street Congress" follows and it's like walking out of a dark tunnel into bright, warm sunshine. It has a cool funky beat and it's kind of a controlled jam where all the band members bounce continually off one another. There are so many great riffs to grab onto because each player is a virtuoso and they just keep topping themselves as the song progresses. White's electric bass work is particularly impressive and there's an overwhelming sense of joy embodied in this piece. Vitous contributes the next tune, "Will," that features a Middle Eastern ambience in the underlying feel. It's a welcome change of pace with a slow, hypnotic melody that wanders overhead but there's just not enough happening to keep this 6+ minute song from getting somewhat stale and you'll be glad when it ends. The closer, Shorter's "Non-Stop Home," is a brisk walk on the wild side. It starts fast with some strange keyboard effects, then accelerates to a slightly higher tempo. Wayne and Josef supply an off-the-wall theme as they zip along with the group stacking layer upon layer of sounds until it ends with an abrupt pop like a bottle rocket.

I would be the first to tell you that this album may not appeal to everyone. However, if you like interesting music that takes you on a short trip away from what you're familiar with but doesn't assault your senses with dissonance or ugly noises "Sweetnighter" might be a wise investment.

Report this review (#116914)
Posted Friday, March 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars

What we have here is another good album from Weather Report. I enjoy on this release very much Manolete and Adios (the same fusion style pioneered by Miles Davis). Important to mention is that the band had a change in direction here (e.g. on 125th Street congress but also on the Boogie Woogie Waltz). The sound is more in a funky/groove manner which is some different than the other Weather Report releases before this one. We have two new musicians here on bass and drums which indicates Joe Zawinul tendencies to adopt a different rhythmic style. It is maybe simply the need of the musicians to experiment a different style which may lead to acceptance or not depending on everybody's experience and preferences.

One thing is for sure. With this release Weather Report established themselves as one of the most important band in the fusion genre from the '70.

Report this review (#123997)
Posted Wednesday, May 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!

Third album and what I call a hinge-album (as in turning point/cornerstone) when Weather Report is abandoning their early torrid jazz-rock to go into a fusion jazz funk. The change in music was obviously the next step as Miles and Shorter suffered from the Black American community's short-sightedness, calling their music too "white" or even Honkey music (a much too-ignored form of racism, often called "reverse racism" as if it was alright to be so), a bit the same way Hendrix suffered from it! So WR decided to make a step in their direction, which wouldn't help since the Blacks didn't followed and the white audiences remained. The black community's loss really as this album ROCKS the ship. Indeed the two-bassist formation is absolutely marvellous (catch it on the opening track of each sides), and this album equals Body Electric, in this writer's book, whatever the Afro-Americans can say!

Obviously the odd man out was Miroslav Vitous (he would depart after this album), but he's present on five of six tracks, but twice doubled by Andrew White on electric bass, and to be fair on the English horn as well. Percussion-wise, while Romao is still to be seen on two tracks, Gravatt already makes an appearance (he would be full time on the following Mysterious Traveller), but shares the drum stool with Dwellingham.

Starting out on a delicious "Papa Was A Rollin Stone"-type brass funk, you just know Body Electric is soon to be history as a good deal of the record follows suit, although with varying degrees of funkyness. If the Zawinul-penned Boogie Woogie Waltz is clearly pumped from the afore-mentioned Parliament vein, it is less the case with Manolete, which returns more to Body Electric and the debut, while retaining a clear funky groove, but has a definite experimental edge. The A-side closer Adios is a very ambient track that takes us back to the debut album.

The flipside is build roughly around the same canvas, with a lengthy funky Zawinul-penned opener (125th Street Congress), a shorter more progressive and adventurous piece, the Vitous-written and torrid, sun-roasted Will (my fave on the album) and a short improv closer, Non-Stop Home.

As I said, Sweetnighter is really the hinge-album, separating (or linking) their first two phases, and by itself, it is very excellent album, even if the funk grooves are indeed a little easy for progheads. Nevertheless, this album is thoroughly enjoyable and still very much indicated to progheads

Report this review (#133011)
Posted Tuesday, August 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars After many listens and much time spent, I just don't see how words such as genius, lightning-fast, or virtuosic can be used to describe this music. What Weather Report deliver here is a solid, fairly relaxing, and overall only moderately interesting album, nothing more, in my humble opinion.

Boogie Woogie Waltz, 125th Street Congress. First of all, what does Boogie Woogie Waltz have to do with a waltz? Am I missing an inside joke or reference? At any rate, it's a solid track, as is 125th Street Congress. Although many seem to view Boogie as the better tune, they both are essentially the same song to my ears: 10-plus minutes of a solid, funky, mid-tempo beat, with semi-random keyboard, horn, and bass grooves interspersed. There are no real melodies (sans the end of Boogie), no time-signature, key, or tempo changes, and no lyrics. Don't get me wrong--this is great music to chill to, but there's nothing especially progressive, and unfortunately (maybe only for me) it ultimately fails to transport me to new musical worlds.

Manolete, Adios, Will, Non-Stop Home. These songs are also far from irritating, but mostly fail to distinguish themselves. There are highlights, such as the build in Manolete, the soothing harmonies on Adios, the textured key and bass on Will, and the quasi-freaky Non-Stop Home. However, unless you're in a mellow mood, they aren't likely to be what you're looking for.

Minimalist would be a decent way to describe Sweetnighter. There certainly is good texture throughout, especially in the keys and bass. Unfortunately, there is little structure and virtuosic playing (or anything even close, really), which means that for me, this music is only good to have on in the background.

Report this review (#155323)
Posted Thursday, December 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This album took me totally by surprise as it has nothing in common with the previous album "I Sing The Body Electric". Gone are those experimental, avant passages, and the groove and funk that was non- existant on their first two albums suddenly appears in spades. Interesting that Zawinul felt that Vitous' electric bass playing style didn't fit with this new direction, so Andrew White who played English horn on the previous album plays the electric bass parts on the two longest tracks as well as on the final track. Vitous does add his acoustic bass on those two long tracks though, and he plays electric bass on his own composition "Will" as well as on "Adios". Vitous would leave after this album. With this new musical direction in mind they've added another drummer and percussionist.

"Boogie Woogie Waltz" is all about the beat and groove. I like that salt-shaker sound from Romao's chucalho too.This song reminds me of some of those great Krautrock songs that feature a lot of percussion and repetitiveness. I kind of get lost in the hypnotic rhythm, but at the same time I can't stop from moving to the beat.The sax and distorted keys take turns playing over the beat. Very cool. "Manolete" is a Shorter composition.There are some strange sounds going on as sax plays over top. Bass and light drums add to this mid-paced relaxing tune. Piano comes in about half way through. "Adios" is a Zawinul track. This one has some atmosphere as different sounds come and go. Cool song. White adds some English horn here.

"125th Street Congress" is Zawinul's composition. Like his first track this one just grooves with a great beat. Again those distorted keys are a highlight for me and Shorter really lets it rip after 4 minutes.The shaker is back too. The bass lines are funky and deep. Fantastic track. "Will" would be Vitous' final composition for the band. Lets just say he goes out in style. This is a mid-paced tune with mournful English horn early. A steady beat with that shaker sound and bass all sounds great. Some fuzz bass before 3 1/2 minutes. "Non-Stop Home" is a great title. This is a Shorter tune. Nice drumming throughout as Zawinul adds some fuzz early. Bass 1 1/2 minutes in as Zawinul adds some dissonance this time. Sax comes in. Very cool track.

I still can't get over the change in styles between this album and the last one. This one is a lot of fun and certainly more enjoyable and less challenging than "I Sing The Body Electric". So it depends what your into I suppose. I think both are excellent additions to your Prog collection, and essential to your Jazz collection.

Report this review (#198251)
Posted Friday, January 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Sweetnighter" is the 3rd full-length studio album by US Jazz rock/fusion act Weather Report. The album was released through Columbia/CBS Records in April 1973. The music on the album in some ways continue the free form jazz rock/fusion style of "I Sing The Body Electric (1972)"), but in other ways it´s a very different album compared to it´s predecessor. While "Sweetnighter" certainly is both a challenging and adventurous album, the tracks are now generally slightly more conventionally structured than the more free improvisational flow of the first two albums. Weather Report would streamline this more structured approach to songwriting much more over the course of the next few albums, but this is the album where they started seriously composing tracks instead of "just" playing.

It´s as always Joe Zawinul´s electric piano/keyboard playing and Wayne Shorter´s saxophone playing that are the dominant instrumental performances on the album, but there´s also lots of focus on the outstanding rythm section of bassist Miroslav Vitous (Andrew White plays on a couple of tracks too), drummers Eric Gravatt and Herschel Dwellingham and percussionist Don Um Romao. They are simply on fire on this album. Incredibly groovy and completely irresistible addictive rythms. It´s probably wrong to mention Miroslav Vitous as part of the rythm section though as his playing is at times stylisticaly quite free form. In fact all instruments duel for attention and occasionally it can be quite a challenging and almost chaotic listen, but of course it works with musicians as outstanding as these guys.

The 44:22 minutes long album features 6 tracks. "Boogie Woogie Waltz" and "125th Street Congress" are both over 10 minutes long and represent the busy fusion side of the band´s music very well while the ambient "Adios" and the melodic "Will" display other sides of the band´s sound. On "Sweetnighter" the compositional diversity works really well and the album has a pleasant and entertaining flow.

The sound production is professional, powerful, organic and warm, and it really helps bring out the best in the music. The sounds of Joe Zawinul´s various keyboards/pianos are just fantastic. The decription in the booklet, of the version I have, which states that Joe Zawinul almost sounds like he´s making love to his instruments is spot on. "Sweetnighter" is in every way possible a great album by Weather Report. The more structured songwriting approach makes the band´s music slightly more accessible compared to the two precedessors, but there are still longer sections with free form playing and "Sweetnighter" is overall a very challenging jazz rock/fusion release. A 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is fully deserved.

Report this review (#231325)
Posted Thursday, August 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars The content and the meaning of this album will exactly show an important position for Weather Report as time of the revolution. In the establishment of new Jazz/Fusion by Jazz and the computerization that Miles davis in the 70's showed, it is the well-known facts to have influenced a derivative musician and the band in no small way. And, it might have been time of which the color of Joe Zawinul had gone out little by little at the same time as the music characters' being united in a good meaning for the album at time when it worked as Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter had each idea for Weather Report. Those elements remarkably appear to the work as directionality and an index in music since the debut. And, it might be also correct that the meaning of this album was a material concerning the establishment of one style for the band.

I will be able to hear the revolution as some respects and bands when thinking mainly about this album for directionality and the idea of the music that Weather Report thought about. It is not an exaggeration to say that the band that uses a methodology that is the nearest from the index of Miles Davis as a music character at the debut this time is this Weather report. And, it is in the point with busy of the rhythm of Funk and the established rhythm as an expression method as a direction of them of the point that reaches this album. The rhythm that can be listened by "Boogie Woogie Waltz" and "125th Street Congress" might be obviously proof of the revolution of the band and the directionality intentionally introduced. And, the election of the musician who is related to the recording of the album as the constitution of the band will be able to be enumerated as a material of the revolution. This flow is pushed and the intention of the band that tried to recommend it appears remarkably in the tune. The existence of Andrew White known on business of The 5th Dimension might show the intention of the work. The intention judged not to be suitable for the color of the band of Miroslav Vitous back might be in this respect, too. Groping and the revolution had appeared remarkably in this album.

As the point of this album, the diversity of Percussion might be a point important as the content of the album. The existence of Percussion is one of the indispensable parts for Weather Report. The element of Groove as the band has strengthened a little. These parts might be the parts established enough even if it considers it as an element of their works.

And, it has the part where the element of the sound almost made electronic was strongly shown. And, the point that has succeeded at the same time in establishing the style as a music character of Weather Report will rise. The flow of the tune with the anacatesthesia of "Manolete" and "Will" can discover the establishment of the style and the change in the point to make the tune. The performance of Wayne Shorter that completely acquires the concept of soprano Sax can be discovered by the melody that "Manolete" is beautiful. And, I can feel the flow as the part in the route of the following work as for the rhythm and the composition where the dash feeling of "Non-Stop Home" that remarkably shows the revolution of the band overflows.

The work at popular time in the listener will be able to talk about the history of the band enough even if the flow of the back and forth is exactly chased from this album. It might be also possible to use this album as initial division in the work of Weather Report revolutionized from an initial work. And, it is likely do not to have to worry about those parts even with a loose a few impressions if purely talking about the development of music.

Report this review (#245287)
Posted Tuesday, October 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The only electric guitar-less jazz fusion super group from 70-s released their 3-rd album in a bit different style, than previous masterpiece, "I Sing The Body Electric". If at previous works they were more free-jazz, experimental and some electronic sound based, there they obviously changed direction to more groove based music.

Excellent interplay between Joe Zawinul's keyboards and Wayne Shorter's sax are strongly supported and framed but big rhythm section. The music is still far from Herbie Hancock funk series from similar period, but the first step toward is done there.

Happily, compositions are great, songs have innovative structure, and album is far from boring or uninteresting. Even more - some pieces are just as great as WR best compositions ever.

Possibly, it is more question of taste as well. I prefer their earlier, more experimental sound, but can really enjoy funky groove of this album as well.

Not the best, but one between Weather Report greater works. Strong 4+.

Report this review (#277627)
Posted Monday, April 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Weather Report's third album is nice evolution from the preceding albums. The out-worldly atmosphere and the wild free-jazz of I Sing The Body Electric have morphed into a smoother exotic ambience that is still magical in atmosphere but more accessible and even funky in places. It's another remarkable album from a band changing their appearance with each release.

Right from the opener the album sounds closer to Funcadelic then to the previous Weather Report albums. Especially the rhythm section has become downright swinging and groovy. The rousing percussion interplays brilliantly with the bass guitar and the heavily processed piano that almost sounds like a guitar played through a wah wah. The saxophones develop quite an entrancing lead melody. Manolete is quieter and moodier, and slowly grooves on a downbeat funk rhythm. The band's jamming is very inspired and hypnotizing. Adios rounds off the first side with an dreamy introspective piece.

125th Street Congress gets us back into the groove. The band enlisted 4 drummers/percussionist for this album but despite the abundant percussion, they never overstate things, and always settle for a refrained approach. Will is an entirely different piece, rather uneventful on the surface but with a smouldering fire underneath. The album ends with the funkiest piece of the album and keyboards supplying a wild and dissonant flair.

Report this review (#288621)
Posted Tuesday, June 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
The Quiet One
3 stars Sweet Groovy Free Jazz

After two of what I would call (classic) avant-fusion albums, which were heavily leaned towards the "teachings" of Miles Davis 69-70 class, Weather Report got kind of bored of following the master's footsteps and approached their music in a funkier way.

Don't expect a rival to Hancock and The Headhunters though, Joe & Co. weren't playing that kind of jazz funk, Sweetnighter is still pretty much improvisational but with much more groove than the band used to show. All this is thanks to Zawinul's wah-wah electric piano, creating both, catchy interplay between the other band members and some great ambiences that Joe already started demonstrating on In a Silent Way, back then with an organ.

However, this is not something out of this world, it's good alright and original, but it tends to drag a bit with the samey use of electric piano all throughout the record, the same problem that Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (also released in 1973 and also featured a cloud with the band members as the cover art) had in which Chick Corea only had the Fender Rhodes thus making it rather monotonic.

3.5 stars: What is really good of this album is that it's a transitional album, anticipating the band's future accessible fusion but still evoking past teachings, and because of that it can appeal to fans of both eras. Mind you, since this album is original and not much fusion sounds like this, it's an album that all serious fusion should check out.

Report this review (#381383)
Posted Sunday, January 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars What a sweet night for grooving.

If you think you know Weather Report through their slicker, poppier (maybe poopier) era in the late 70's, you really don't know what they were capable of. SWEETNIGHTER is the third album from the fusion quintet with about half of the swagger that came later, yet so much more in compositional dynamics.

The real meat of the album is those two longer cuts that open each side of the album (vinyl terms); think of the Miles Davis style of jazz writing/playing with far more funk rhythms. Be careful or you'll mistake the wah-fed electric keyboard lines of ''Boogie Woogie Waltz'' for a guitar. ''Boogie Woogie Waltz'' represents many aspects I love about this type of fusion; setting a groove/beat and let the other instrumentalists weave over it with careful melodic improvs, never overdoing one second of it. And while it's repetitive, the drumbeat is mesmerising. ''125th Street Congress'' is in the same mould, but dancier and makes me think of downtown New York for some reason.

There are four shorter tracks that tend to get overshadowed by the big kahunas of the album. That's a shame because ''Adios'' and ''Will'' are so beautifully experimentative. Those are two words you rarely hear together. The final track is the most notable in terms of the drumming and sounds like typical rock-jazz of the era.

Unless funk-jazz is your thing, SWEETNIGHTER will shatter your expectations of music, particularly prog music. The album really calls for you to think slightly outside the box if you like more strictly composed pieces, but those with tastes for funk, jazz, dancing or even Krautrock (not in sound, but in feel or pulse) would have no trouble sinking deep into this.

Report this review (#396420)
Posted Monday, February 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars About a year ago, before I owned Sweetnight for myself I had a fortunate encounter in my friend's basement. Sadly no girls were involved, but I digress. While raiding my friend's dad's rather extensive record collection I found his copy of Sweetnighter. So I heard it in its entirety for the very first time on vinyl. It was a very cool experience. I would especially recommend it for an album like this which is a little rough around the edges to begin with.

The layout of the tracks on Sweetnighter reminds me of Heavy Weather. The album stars strong and upbeat, but from there it's anyone's guess. The next song could be swinging or coma inducing, there's no way to tell. That is something which really bothers me. There is a time and a place for those "mood" tracks, but when I listen to fusion I'm looking to feel alive. That's why even though I've yet to encounter a 5 star album from Weather Report I still count them among my most listened to bands. The stuff that I like gets me going every time.

Stuff like Boogie Woogie Waltz. It's the whole reason I decided to buy the whole album even after finding it below expectations. It is the most engaging 13+ minute track this side of the topographic oceans. It starts with an unassuming percussion line which is promptly interrupted by a noisy rich brass section. The band doesn't give it all up in one go though. The horns are dialled back almost immediately and a long slow build up commences. Joe easily takes the lead on his electric piano, but there are plenty of interjections from the whole crew along the way. Boogie Woogie Waltz hits its peak when Joe and the horns team up for the song's main theme. This song is at one funky and highly creative. There's little more I can ask of from Weather Report.

Unfortunately, there is little more delivered in my opinion. The Waltz is a very fresh and lively track, but the tone of the album turns towards what you might expect from an album called Sweet"NIGHT"er. The next track is Manolete a slippery minor key piece which is dominated by a sour sounding sax. It has a few decent moments when the pace quickens, but these moments are all too brief. From Manolete, the band takes the energy level down even a level further. Adios is more of a lullaby. It is very gentle all the way through; it isn't without its own brief glimmers but nothing truly remarkable.

Once we arrive at side B there is another abrupt shift in the energy level. 125th Street Congress is a lot closer to the excitement of the Waltz. I would love you it to go all the way, but it stays comfortable and listenable where it is. The sax is a bit irritating, but that isn't enough to take away from the strengths of this piece. The street sound is encapsulated by the rhythm section. The bass is sly expressive, while the percussion sounds like it might actually be a garbage can. It's a great track to mellow to without the risk of losing your attention or being put to sleep.

History repeats itself on Will. We lose the liveliness of the street and instead of opt for a slow slightly romantic excursion. There isn't much to it. The back bone are maracas and light percussion the rest sort of slides in and out whenever it feels like it. I like it more than either Manolete or Adios, but it isn't a show stopper.

The final track on the album is Non-Stop home. This is the only short track with any bit of life in it. It's sound is frantic a little bit haunted. Joe makes his piano do some very strange things, but for the most part this is a drum showcase. The beat is reliable and toe tapping and the few times Herschel Dwellingham is allowed to go off the reservation he does not disappoint. I would say it should have been the basis for a much more grandiose track than the band opted for.

On the whole, Sweetnighter is middling. Only three of the tracks really manage to keep my attention. Of them, only Boogie Woogie Waltz is truly memorable. I am going to give the album a three, but it for the most part an unenthusiastic one. I would buy it again, but it would still really just be for the Waltz. For those of you looking to get into Weather Report, I recommend you head straight for Black Market.

Report this review (#417419)
Posted Wednesday, March 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Sweetnighter is a strong fusion album from Weather Report which offers a notable improvement over its predecessor, I Sing the Body Electric. It's founder member Miroslav Vitous' last album with the group, and his bass playing is a particular highlight, laying down a funk-powered foundation over which the rest of the instrumentalists strut their stuff in dynamite fashion. This approach is particularly effective in the two longer songs on the album, 125th Street Congress and Boogie Woogie Waltz, which are surely highlight's of the group's repertoire. You can still perceive the influence of Miles Davis (who I think of as the musical "grandfather" of this band, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and other groups founded by key members of the In a Silent Way/Bitches Brew sessions), but by this point Weather Report are pulling full steam ahead into their own distinctive musical terrain, the compromise between cutting-edge fusion and commercial reach that would characterise their mid-70s work becoming visible.
Report this review (#505412)
Posted Thursday, August 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars At once I got a whole collection of Weather Report records on vinyl and this was just a pity. Most of those records were really inaccessible. So I decided to give some of those records to my brother who experienced the same troubles with this band. This Sweetnighter however was an exception to this rule. From the first time on I did like it.

Sweetnighter is one of the -if not the- funkiest records of Weather Report. I do like the really good controlled wah-wah pedal keyboard soundings. The wind-section fell right on it's place and the percussion session make a good match. The keys and bass are as good as the other instruments. This is the first record of the Weather report I got the idea this band was really playing as a band. I don't mean there other records were not played good - Weather report always had excellent musicians, but on this record I got the idea the music was somewhat more natural in it's soundings because the musicians seem to be more cohesive.

Still this record has some shortcomings. Side two is a bit less good then the first side and fails to get my attention all the time. There are just a few supprises for me and it fels like lounge music. I think it's just the problem of fusion: with good musicians it's quiet easy to make a good sounding fusion record, but it's really hard to make an excellent one. The absence of vocals are hard to compensate and so it's really hard to make a record which is entertaining for more then 30 minutes I guess.

Well, this record really wishes us a sweetnight, which was needed after the inaccesable "body electric". It well deserves 3,5 star.

Report this review (#589716)
Posted Saturday, December 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars During 1972 Weather Report launched their first live album, a double LP recorded in January 1972 at the Shibuya Kokaido Hall in Tokyo, Japan, entitled ''Live in Tokyo''.But inner conflicts were about to rise, as Zawinul had taken the decision to add some funky beats in the band's sounds.For this reason he invited Andrew White to play the English horn, but also handled him the bass for three tracks of the upcoming album, while he also recruited drummer Herschel Dwellingham, who played drums in five of the six tracks.Zawinul apparently needed musicians with a Funk background, thus the performances of Vitous and Gravatt were limited to a just a few pieces.Percussionist Muruga Booker was also invited and the album ''Sweetnighter'' was recorded at the Connecticut Recording Studio in less than a week, released in April 1973.

There is a definite turn in Weather Report's sound with this album, gone are the long, directionless improvisations and the loose soloing of the previous album and the new side of the band displayed a more structured Jazz Fusion sound with lots of percussion and funky beats.They kind of enter the RETURN TO FOREVER territory circa-1971/72 with this work, introducing ethereal jazzy interludes and smooth bass lines over some Latin-spiced rhythms due to the heavy percussion content, creating a very tropical style with ethnic orientations.The longer cuts though are typical of the Jazz/Funk Rock movement, featuring a happy atmosphere but also a very technical sound, filled with Wayne Shorter's neurotic solos and Zawinul's jazzy lines on piano and synths, based on breezy grooves and individual solos and characterized by some tricky bass exercises and inventive drumming.From the dark and abstract echoes of ''I sing the body electric'' the band had switched into a very pleasant and joyful sound, which still contained some ambiental, ethnic soundscapes, but overall was propelled by delicate rhythms and tight instrumental performances, eventually producing something equal to the line-up's talent and one of the very good examples of funky-styled Fusion.

Relying somewhere between atmospheric Jazz with Lounge aesthetics and groovy Electric Fusion with funky extensions, ''Sweetnighter'' recalculates the value of Weather Report within the Jazz Rock and Fusion scenes and finds the band on the rise.Strongly recommended to all Jazz Fusion fanatics...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#1288291)
Posted Monday, October 6, 2014 | Review Permalink

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