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MYSTERIOUS TRAVELLER

Weather Report

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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Weather Report Mysterious Traveller album cover
3.76 | 115 ratings | 13 reviews | 30% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Nubian Sundance (10:43)
2. American Tango (3:42)
3. Cucumber Slumber (8:25)
4. Mysterious Traveller (7:21)
5. Blackthorn Rose (5:05)
6. Scarlet Woman (5:43)
7. Jungle Book (7:22)

Total Time: 48:21

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Alphonso Johnson / bass
- Don Um Romao / percussion, drum
- Wayne Shorter / soprano & tenor saxophones, tac piano
- Miroslav Vitous / bass (2)
- Ishmael Wilburn / drums
- Joe Zawinul / acoustic & electric pianos, synth, kalimba, organ, tamboura, clay drums, tac piano, melodica

Additional musicians:
- Don Ashworth / ocarinas, woodwinds (7)
- Billie Barnum / vocals (1)
- Ray Barretto / percussion (3)
- James Gilstrad / vocals (1)
- Skip Hadden / drums (1-4)
- Isacoff / tabla, finger cymbals (1)
- Steve Little / tympani (6)
- Marti McCall / vocals (1)
- Meruga / percussion (1)
- Jessica Smith / voocals (1)
- Edna Wright / vocals (1)

Releases information

LP Columbia PC 32494
LP CBS 80027 (UK)
CD CBS 80027 (198?-UK)

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WEATHER REPORT Mysterious Traveller ratings distribution


3.76
(115 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(30%)
30%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
40%
Good, but non-essential (28%)
28%
Collectors/fans only (2%)
2%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

WEATHER REPORT Mysterious Traveller reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This record contains African rhythms mixed with funky jazz elements. It is not exaggerated to say Weather Report include here progressive elements in their music. The most loaded parts are not so fast & complex; the more simple & relaxing bits contain enigmatic floating keyboards. The music is rather lively, never stressing nor depressing. The overload of electric piano a la George Duke is a very strong point on this record: it is often played with a strong wah-wah effect. The keyboards are omnipresent & dominant: they are sometimes floating & mysterious, and they may also contribute to enhance the rhythm. The expressive saxes and the elaborated styled bass are very well played. There is often a pleasant echoed live ambience in the overall sound. On "Nubian sundance", there are some joyful female backing vocals. The whole is rather well structured, just slightly experimental.

Rating: 3.5 stars

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#93647) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, October 06, 2006

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars By WR's fourth album, Mysterious Traveller, the metamorphosis of the sizzling jazz-rock group to a groovy funky fusion-jazz (with an ethnic touch) was almost complete, as the whole scene was now slowly doing do by early 74, and the group not even bothering with a stable line-up anymore. Keeping only Um Romao as a permanent fixture, the Shorter-Zawinul duo is hitting full stride in their new direction, with Alphonso Johnson on bass. Graced with a mystic comet photo, this album shows just how red hot this combo could become once on stage

Starting with the live-recorded lengthy Nubian Sundance (from Bitches Brew maybe?), the album has a full funk flavour due to Johnson's bass play (even when Vitous returns on American Tango) that will pervade/proliferate throughout the whole album. Unless you are into this typical funk-jazz, most likely that you'll be quickly bored with Cucumber Slumber (sleepy carrot, yourself ;-): don't get me wrong this is flawlessly played, but rather too easy once settled into their groove, it is all soloing away. The no-less groovy funk title track (with a cosmic synth background) repeats the formula, albeit with a slightly evolving twist.

Scarlet woman is also a very repetitive track, but for some reasons, there is a little added drama with Shorter's descending sax lines (he's doubled by Zawinul's synth) that serves the track well, even if it no cornerstone. Blackthorn Rose is just a Joe-Wayne duo, which brings some change of pace to the album, but very little added interest, especially once it gets dissonant. A delicate, but ultimately boring Jungle Book might be the second highlight of a rather weak album, IMHO

A rather dull and flawed (repetitive) album after three superb albums, MT is the first album that any real proghead can do without, unless he has a strong affinity for Hancock's Headhunters period. Such is not the case, as I prefer Hancock's Mwandishi period, which could be better compared (if you'll allow such shortcuts) with WR's first two albums.

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Posted Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This album took a while to sink in, it's not as dynamic as MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA or RETURN TO FOREVER, but then there isn't that lead electric guitar or violin creating havoc. This really is about interplay, with the focus on the band over individual soloing. It just all sounds so impressive. Zawinul and Shorter must be considered among the most talented duo's to ever craft music. I just find the music here is often too subtle, and if you aren't listening carefully you will miss out on the genius that is played so flawlessly.

"Nubian Sundance" is a very good song with the crowd cheering in the background. The drums are steady as the bass, keys and sax impress. Everything seems restrained and I keep waiting for them to explode,but they never do. Vocals come and go in the form of a 5 member choir. "American Tango" starts off fairly laid back with outbursts of piano. A vocal outburst as well. Sax takes the lead 2 minutes in then keys. "Cucumber Slumber" has a nice groundwork of keys, bass and drums as sax plays over top. This is groovy man. Such a good rhythm to it, I can't help but move. Great sound after 6 minutes, then the sax joins in. What a song !

"Mysterious Traveller" is my favourite. The intro is haunting as keys come in and start to lead the way. Drums then a full sound follow. The sax is incredible before 3 minutes. "Blackthorn Rose" is simply acoustic piano and sax. Nice song. "Scarlet Woman" is quite mellow with outbursts of sound.The wind blows in around 5 minutes as the song fades out. "Jungle Book" actually has some guitar in it courtesy of Zawinul, he also plays organ for the first time on this album. Oh, and he sings too.Vocals early as different sounds come and go. Guitar after 5 minute.This one is different from the other songs.

4 stars and I would put "I Sing The Body Electric", "Sweetnighter" and "Black Market" ahead of it.

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Posted Saturday, November 08, 2008

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Mysterious Traveller" is the 4th full-length studio album by US Jazz rock/fusion act Weather Report. The album was released through Columbia/CBS in March 1974. There have been a couple of lineup changes since the last album as Alphonso Johnson has taken over the bass duties from Miroslav Vitous. The latter does however play bass on "American Tango". Ishmael Wilburn is new behind the drums while percussionist Don Um Romao, keyboardist Joe Zawinul and saxophone player Wayne Shorter are the remaining members from the lineup on Weather Report´s preceeding studio album "Sweetnighter (1973)".

The music is in some ways a continuation of the rather free-form jazz rock/fusion style of the two predecessors to this album. This album features a style shift towards a more structured compositional style though, which also makes "Mysterious Traveller" a more accessible album compared to it´s more experimental predecessors. That process had already begun on "Sweetnighter (1973)", but "Mysterious Traveller" is more streamlined.

Musically there are some outstanding playing on the album. The rythm section is adventurous, Wayne Shorter´s saxophone playing a bit more melodic than usual (compared to his playing on the first three albums) and Joe Zawinul absolutely shines throughout the album with his electric piano and keyboard sounds. What an innovator! This is music where every instrument battle for a spot in the limelight, but instead of sounding abrasive, the very busy instrumentation work well together. Every possible empty space is filled with notes and rythms though, so if you generally favor music with a bit more room to breathe, this may not be to your liking. While there are certainly some really powerful jazz rock/fusion tunes on this album like "Nubian Sundance" (with an etnic flavour and some choir vocals) and the title track, the album features so much more than that. "Blacthorn Rose" displays Weather Report from their most melodic side while "Scarlet Woman" moves into avant garde territory. The album ends with the ethnically flavoured "Jungle Book", which while not the strongest track on the album, shows yet another sound and musical style.

The sound production is powerful and organic and suits the music well. The whole package is actually a very enjoyable experience and upon conclusion "Mysterious Traveller" is a high quality release by Weather Report. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#232179) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Review by Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The infamous comet-of-the-20th-century named Kohoutek that zipped by our planet in '73 and conceitedly ignored us was one of the most phenomenal flops in the history of astronomy. Conversely, the album that it inspired, Weather Report's "Mysterious Traveller," is anything but. While that innocuous chunk of orphaned space ice failed to inaugurate the end-of-the-civilized-world events predicted by every pseudo- psychic and sideline soothsayer who could hijack a microphone, the LP that features on its cover that tiny orb's graceful (though grossly exaggerated) tail as it streaks through the early evening sky (I vaguely remember seeing it and remarking that it looked more like a comma than a comet) marked a distinct change in the musical direction of one of jazz/rock fusion's most innovative and influential groups. "Streetnighter," the excellent record that preceded it, offered sneak peek glimpses of the rich aural renderings they would unveil in full, wide- screen Technicolor on this disc but none of their fans anticipated the astounding depth and creativity that these tunes possess in such abundance. Few albums guide the listener through art galleries consisting solely of sounds like this one does. This, in the most elemental of definitions, is progressive music at its finest.

It seems to be the core nature of the beast that the best art, more often than not, miraculously springs forth from the harshest strife and gnarliest gnashing of teeth. That being the case, this bumper crop of tunes predictably grew out of soil that had been ravaged by ugly storms of dissention. Founding member/respected bassist Miroslav Vitous had butted heads with keyboard wizard Josef Zawinul so many times that they had permanent dents in their combat helmets. So when sax man extraordinaire Wayne Shorter reluctantly broke the tie by siding with Joe in that war of wills Vitous bid them a terse "adios" and drove off into the sunset amid squealing tires and a thick cloud of acrid smoke. With the remaining duo already on their third drummer, it's surprising that they'd manage to tape anything approaching cohesive, much less impressive under those circumstances but, as I pointed out, the tastiest fruit comes from trees that've been pruned back the most severely. Recruiting the services of drummer Ishmael Wilburn and bassist Alphonso Johnson was one of the smartest decisions Zawinul and Shorter ever made because together with percussionist Dom Um Romao they made one of the most transcendent fusion albums ever. Weather Report's 1974 release, "Mysterious Traveller," is a masterpiece of the modern jazz/rock genre.

When reviewing this band's work it's important to educate the uninitiated to the fact that recognizable terms such as verse, chorus and bridge don't apply. The oft misunderstood label of "soundscapes" is much more descriptive of what's being presented here and I find that I must indulge in some extravagant prose to express myself. (Please forgive me in advance.) These compositions are like paintings done in the style of pointillism in that you must back up a few steps to discern the distinct images that appear out of what, if you look too closely, appears to be random dots of color. I would also encourage you turn up the volume so as to hear every nuance. Go ahead, crank it. The louder the better because you don't want to miss a single note. Trust me on this.

They open with Josef's synthesizer trumpeting as if to herald the entrance of a pharaoh and his entourage. "Nubian Sundance" sports an energized grandeur that conjures up in my vivid imagination a huge throng gathered around the ancient pyramids for a festival of epic proportions. (Yes, I read that he used crowd noise recorded at the Rose Bowl but I'd greatly appreciate it if you didn't bring that up and rain on my dream parade here. Thanks.) The African language Zawinul adopts for his incidental vocalizations gives this piece an exotic tint as the two drummers, Wilburn and guest Skip Hadden, lay down a rhythmic heartbeat-on-adrenaline pattern underneath. One of the many fascinating aspects of Weather Report's music is how unexpected moments of synthesized glory often billow up out of nowhere and this track is not excluded from that club. There's so much happening during this 7+ minute song that I recommend you try not to dissect/analyze it too much and just let your mind be swept away. As good as it is, however, you ain't heard nothin' yet.

While Miroslav may have long since left the building in a huff, he left a fingerprint behind in the form of his and Josef's "American Tango." This tune calmly falls into place bit by bit, then Zawinul's synths create some cool, other-worldly magic before Shorter's saxophones wade in to dance around him gracefully. It's a comparatively short-lived excursion but sometimes valuable gifts come in small packages. Vitous was without doubt a monster player but evidently a total lack of soul food in his upbringing was his Achilles heel and that deficiency led directly to his estrangement from Josef and Wayne. (Hey, the dude can't help that Czechs and funk are rarely mentioned in the same sentence!) I'm a fool for slick funkadelia and new guy Johnson ably supplies that ingredient bountifully on the joyride that is "Cucumber Slumber." Alphonso is fluidly fluent in that street-taught dialect but his studio experience keeps him from becoming overbearing in his delivery. I'll admit that I'm also an all-day sucker when it comes to folks combining catchy hook lines with their fusion and this tune has one that's deliciously wicked. Shorter is clever but stingy with his saxophone injections and Zawinul's electric piano noodlings are never more than what is called for. They both know full well that the whole is always more important than the parts.

Next up is the disc's namesake, "Mysterious Traveller." The brief, obligatory cosmic introduction is misleading, though, because it turns out that the celestial intruder portrayed in this song isn't the smooth operator we expected to encounter. He doesn't effortlessly glide across the heavens but prefers to confound us with strange herky-jerky movements and antics. Yet when he reaches his apex overhead he astounds us with a massive, shimmering corona of intense brilliance that floods the globe with light. This cut is a thrilling journey of discovery as it passes by and eventually disappears into the ether. (Kohoutek should've hired a choreographer!) Wayne's "Blackthorn Rose" follows and it is drop-dead gorgeous. Complex, yet emotional. Midway through the number this particular bloom magnificently opens its petals to the morning sunrays and the fragrance it emits is intoxicating. The intuitive interplay between Shorter and Zawinul (the sole participants involved) is a wonder to behold. And Wayne's sensuous tone is one that even the late, great Paul Desmond would applaud in admiration.

Emerging from beyond the horizon like an ominous fog, "Scarlet Woman" is as unpredictable as a sexy female's flirtatious intentions. Josef's slightly distorted electric piano adds an air of wariness and intrigue to the proceedings and the instrumental's repeating riff cuts right through your consciousness like a scalpel. Last but certainly not least is Zawinul's "Jungle Book," a delightfully delicate tune that conveys a sensation of muffled distance as if you were observing children playing just outside your windows. The rare inclusion of Josef's acoustic guitar in the mix really sets this number apart from all the others. There's a naïve and innocent feeling of happiness that frolics unimpeded through this track yet it never becomes predictable or pretentious. It has a unique charm all its own.

I realize that it's a minority of the followers of Weather Report that regard this album as highly as I do (although it did earn Downbeat Magazine's prestigious "album of the year" award) but it touches me in a personal way that not all of their other offerings do. I continue to be impressed even decades later by its perfect consistency and I always love how it elevates my mood every time I plop it onto my turntable. If you haven't delved into this group's sound yet you should and this exemplary recording would be a great place to start. Let me assure you that while they were sailing fearlessly into uncharted waters with this LP, their music is not discordant, abstract or difficult to digest. Their songs are like elaborate fantasies. What symphonic prog was to standard rock & roll fare, this group's visionary material was to contemporary jazz. They weren't content to blithely dazzle their audience with flashy runs up and down the diatonic scale, they took them on a voyage to places they'd never been to and, on "Mysterious Traveller," they took me to paradise.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#294367) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, August 13, 2010

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
3 stars Weather Report's fourth is another great achievement in this band's career. It continues the funkier approach of the preceding Sweetnighter, and while it avoids the free-jazz leanings of earlier work, the music is still very evocative and inspiring, still loose and freely flowing, only this time with a steady groove for support.

The great thing about Weather Report is how they don't hammer us down with virtuosic display, a trait that can be a bit of a turn-off in fusion. Not here, the focus is on interplay, rhythm, mood and atmosphere. Frankly, you get a lot in return for the absence of dazzling solos and virtuoso display. The opener is a great example. The live recording is not entirely satisfying but the tension they build in this African inspired piece can not be ignored. It is followed by the melodious American Tango and two less inspired funk fusion tracks (Cucumber Slumber and Mysterious Traveller) that seem to run around in circles without much conviction. The three last tracks at the end are more atmospheric and please me most of all.

Weather Report's evolution stays nicely in sink with Hancock, who also morphed from free-form fusion to funk-fusion in 73-74. It is still far removed from the commercial direction they would both take after 76 but there are some elements announcing a slicker style. Overall, a very good fusion album with some smart and irresistible rhythms. Great but not as good as what preceded. 3.5 stars

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#300316) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, September 24, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Send comments to zravkapt (BETA) | Report this review (#345699) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Review by Negoba
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Solid, Though Unfocused Piece of Fusion

Weather Report's MYSTERIOUS TRAVELLER always has a little place in my heart because of the story Chris Poland tells of Dave Mustaine throwing the tape out the tour bus window during an early Megadeth tour. While this album is certainly good, that may be the strongest emotion ever evoked by it. MT sees the band with a few personell rearrangements, trying to expand into new territory. Funk and world rhythms find their way into the previously free form band, with a clear "softening" of the overall impact. Certainly, this music is more user- friendly than that of BODY ELECTRIC, and will be listenable to more casual listeners. And that's not all bad. But the album really only grabs me and transports me once, and the rest is mainly a slightly uneven survey of the genre.

The album opens with the energetic "Nubian Sundance" which is a high energy, prototypical fusion track. Slippery drumming, electric piano, deft bass playing, and plenty of jam factor in to a great track. The vocals don't add much to my ear, but don't take away either. My favorite song here is the spooky "Scarlet Woman" which consists with a dissonant horn harmony line playing in bursts over a very open backing pulse. In sharp contrast, "Jungle Book" is happier, world-beat song that ends the album with pleasant send-off. All of the songs, however, are more soundscapes than compositions. They each create a great scene, but there is very little sense of ebb and flow, direction, or climax.

Other songs on the album follow the same pattern, though there is more of a funk and melodic feel. Synthesizers play a large role, and overall this album is less specifically Weather Report than earlier works. As others have said, however, the band retains a sense of musicality over virtuosity that eludes some of the other giants of the genre. The grooves are good, the articulation is stellar as always. There are a few lead lines that are really good, but also plenty of noodling. Though the noodling is tasty rather than showing off, it's still a little self-serving in places. Jamming is almost always more fun for the artists than the listener, but it can make great background music.

During my typical three close listens for this review, I'm liking this album more than before. There are more little nuances, more nice touches that I hadn't noticed. But I don't think it quite makes the jump from Good To Excellent. 3+/5.

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Send comments to Negoba (BETA) | Report this review (#355007) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, December 16, 2010

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Although it's highly praised in fusion circles, I personally don't find Weather Report's Mysterious Traveller to be quite the classic it's made out to be. It isn't helped by the fact that it's a transitional album, in which founder member Miroslav Vitous bows out to make way for new bassist Alphonso Johnson, and in which the band begin to experiment with African-inspired rhythms. The most successful track is probably Nubian Sundance, which is genuinely exciting and engaging, but the rest of the album is extremely laid back and, at points, seems to back away from fusion entirely and edge towards more traditional jazz forms. The jazz lover in me wonders why the band can't just play straight jazz without adding unnecessary fusion frills to the pure-jazz tracks, whilst the fusion lover in me finds the album hard to focus on and directionless.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#518195) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, September 09, 2011

Latest members reviews

3 stars On Mysterious Traveller a shuffling of the line-up enables a step toward the funkier, slicker fusion the band would soon be playing, but a sound they hadn't full embraced just yet, as not every piece turns away from the more ethereal music of earlier albums. The first few Weather Report albums ... (read more)

Report this review (#778207) | Posted by dreadpirateroberts | Wednesday, June 27, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The first and only Weather Report album i actually own. I have listened to their material on other mediums but this fusion album from the glory years of jazz/rock, gets more spin time in my cd player than any other(with the exception of RTF). Great compositions and musicians. ... (read more)

Report this review (#62520) | Posted by | Saturday, December 31, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is one of my favorite Weather Report albums, and probably one of my first. I've been listening to them FOREVER, and I'm glad they got added to the archives. Nubian Sundance - 7/10 - Nice and energetic jazz choral opening. Great tune, but not my favorite on the album American Tango - 9/ ... (read more)

Report this review (#42200) | Posted by seabre | Tuesday, August 09, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Sheer brilliance. With this collection, WR emerged as an utterly unique ensemble whose vision encompassed jazz, rock, funk, and folk music from around the world without settling even for a moment into any predefined category. The two standout tracks - the title cut, "Nubian Sundance," and "Cucum ... (read more)

Report this review (#39543) | Posted by | Friday, July 15, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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