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WEATHER REPORT

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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Weather Report biography
Along with MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, and RETURN TO FOREVER, WEATHER REPORT can trace its origins to Miles Davis' late 60s line up and breakthrough recordings "In a Silent Way" and "Bitches Brew". Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter had played together briefly in 1959 with MAYNARD FERGUSON'S BAND, kept in touch and collaborated again with the aforementioned Davis projects when they finally decided to form their own band. Leaning further perhaps towards the jazz end of the meter among their jazz-rock peers, WEATHER REPORT has made an essential contribution in the legacy of fusion. Zawinul and Shorter comprised the bulk of creative force for the early part of their career, cycling through various lineups until the 1976 recording "Black Market" introduced fusion's most influential and renowned bass player, Jaco Pastorius.

"Mysterious Traveler" marks the peak of the pre-Jaco era and is hailed by many as their finest moment. While other fusion acts relied heavily on the presence of the ever popular electric guitar, WEATHER REPORT forged ahead without one and still managed to produce an album that transcended anything done with jazz based music before. "Black Market" would mark another transition in their direction that would ultimately be realized in 1977's "Heavy Weather". Standing as their most commercially successful and critically acclaimed album, "Heavy Weather" boasted a hit single in Birdland, and leant a production credit to Pastorius, who was now a driving force in the group.

WEATHER REPORT complete the triangle that launched fusion in the early seventies, and are highly recommend for anyone interested in Jazz Fusion.

: : : Jeremy Spade, USA : : :

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Buy WEATHER REPORT Music


Heavy WeatherHeavy Weather
Remastered
Sony 1997
Audio CD$3.00
$0.68 (used)
Black MarketBlack Market
Sbme Special Mkts. 2002
Audio CD$2.86
$2.85 (used)
The Complete Columbia Albums 1971-1975The Complete Columbia Albums 1971-1975
Box set
Sony Legacy 2012
Audio CD$35.86
$46.74 (used)
8.30 Live8.30 Live
Hi Hat 2015
Audio CD$14.90
$14.89 (used)
The Columbia Albums 1976-1982The Columbia Albums 1976-1982
Box set · Limited Edition
Sony Legacy 2012
Audio CD$22.68
$40.25 (used)
Weather ReportWeather Report
Sbme Special Mkts. 2009
Audio CD$2.57
$2.56 (used)
Night PassageNight Passage
Sbme Special Mkts. 2008
Audio CD$2.84
$2.83 (used)
Mysterious TravellerMysterious Traveller
Import
Imports 2002
Audio CD$2.77
$0.99 (used)
8:308:30
Sbme Special Mkts. 2008
Audio CD$2.40
$1.49 (used)
Mr GoneMr Gone
Sbme Special Mkts. 2008
Audio CD$2.07
$2.06 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
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WEATHER REPORT RIVER PEOPLE/ BIRDLAND CBS RECORDS S CBS 6743 DEMO ONLY 1978 UK USD $9.35 [0 bids]
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WEATHER REPORT shows & tickets


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WEATHER REPORT discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

WEATHER REPORT top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.68 | 89 ratings
Weather Report
1971
3.77 | 118 ratings
I Sing The Body Electric
1972
3.72 | 108 ratings
Sweetnighter
1973
3.77 | 127 ratings
Mysterious Traveller
1974
3.51 | 79 ratings
Tale Spinnin'
1975
3.96 | 191 ratings
Black Market
1976
3.62 | 204 ratings
Heavy Weather
1977
2.68 | 86 ratings
Mr. Gone
1978
3.04 | 70 ratings
Night Passage
1980
3.09 | 54 ratings
Weather Report (1982)
1982
3.60 | 43 ratings
Procession
1983
3.35 | 34 ratings
Domino Theory
1984
2.35 | 32 ratings
Sportin' Life
1985
2.92 | 34 ratings
This Is This
1986

WEATHER REPORT Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.39 | 23 ratings
Live In Tokyo
1977
3.29 | 43 ratings
8:30
1979
4.40 | 24 ratings
Live & Unreleased
2002
2.96 | 5 ratings
Live in Berlin 1975
2011
3.90 | 11 ratings
Live in Offenbach 1978
2011

WEATHER REPORT Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Japan Domino Theory: Weather Report Live in Tokyo
1984
0.00 | 0 ratings
Young And Fine Live!
2004
4.60 | 11 ratings
Live At Montreux 1976
2006
4.12 | 7 ratings
Live in Germany 1971
2010
4.04 | 6 ratings
Live In Offenbach 1978
2011

WEATHER REPORT Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 3 ratings
The Collection
1993
3.00 | 5 ratings
This Is Jazz 10
1996
4.09 | 2 ratings
This Is Jazz, Vol. 40: The Jaco Years
1998
0.00 | 0 ratings
Jazz Collection
2001
3.52 | 6 ratings
The Best of Weather Report
2002
4.00 | 4 ratings
Forecast: Tomorrow
2006
4.67 | 3 ratings
Original Album Classics - Weather Report
2007
4.00 | 3 ratings
Collections
2008

WEATHER REPORT Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

WEATHER REPORT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Heavy Weather by WEATHER REPORT album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.62 | 204 ratings

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Heavy Weather
Weather Report Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Sometimes you hear a lot about an album but you simply canīt get a hold of it for years. Thatīs exactly what have happend to Weather Reportīs Heavy Weather in my case. A lot of people talked about it and I heard it was a kind of classic jazz-rock/fusion. Recently I finally got it on CD and Imust say I was not impressed. Condiering the talents of the people involved, it sounded bland, tamed, popish and, frankly, a bit boring.

Of course there are good moments like the second track A Remark You Made (a song Kenny G must have heard a million times when he was young) an their biggest success, Birdland. The inclusion of a live track Rumba Mama, which is a simply drum solo with some goofy spanish words thrown in, is a mystery. The rest is nice: Jaco Pastorius bass playing is realy awesome. I also enjoy Wayne Shorter sax a lot. But in the end I found everything here too slick and predicable.

Maybe I was expecting too much. Maybe it was innovative for the time and it got copied a lot. Maybe it is not as representative of their best work as I was told. I donīt know. What I do know is that there was much better and more exciting records in that genre during that year. Guess Iīll have to look for other WR stuff to see if I change my mind over their sound. But Heavy weather, despite its title, has nothing really heavy on it. On the contrary, is very light. Too light.

Rating: 2 stars.

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 Live in Offenbach 1978 by WEATHER REPORT album cover Live, 2011
3.90 | 11 ratings

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Live in Offenbach 1978
Weather Report Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mr. Gone

4 stars In spite of the filler on here, I have to give this four stars. There's plenty of awesome stuff on here, and I find this preferable to the 8:30 album released from the same tour as this performance.

I'll admit that "Teen Town" and "Birdland" aren't my favorites by this group. And "Young and Fine" may be the weakest track on the then-current Mr. Gone album (though it sounds strangely more tolerable on here for some reason - go figure). The solos may be interesting to watch (I have the video too) but not as interesting to listen to. Add in the fact that this was the only tour they did without a percussionist, and it may seem a bit odd to rank it this highly.

However, there are some blistering performances on here. "Black Market" has an extended tenor sax solo at the end (in fact, it's Wayne Shorter's longest solo of the night within a group song) where Joe Zawinul just sits back and lets Shorter blow over Peter Erskine's drums. Erskine's drums provide the strongest-yet recorded structure to the rather ethereal "Scarlet Woman", and Joe Zawinul's electric piano sounds outstanding until he goes synth with Shorter's soprano sax (Jaco Pastorious's bass work there is also outstanding). "The Pursuit of the Woman With the Feathered Hat", like much of the Mr. Gone material, actually sounds better on here than it did in the studio, in part because we get to hear Shorter's soprano in place of the synths that dominated the studio version and because Erskine lays down a terrific groove. "A Remark You Made", as always, is beautiful. "River People" bubbles with energy, and the synths sound better than in the studio (plus, again, Shorter's soprano is prominent). And the disc 1 ender, "Mr. Gone", blisters along as Pastorious can't stay still playing the song's famous groove. Shorter gets much more sax here to than on the studio version, and Zawinul's keyboard solo is quintessentially him.

Disc 2's openers - "In a Silent Way" and "Waterfall", sound as good as they ever did and add an experimental feel to what is a fairly strongly charted setlist. "Elegant People" has a different intro than it did in the studio and on previous tours (same as "Black Market"), but still sounds very good even if the great piano before the song's main theme is replaced with a synthesizer and Shorter's sax. And Badia...the live versions of this always have more energy than the excellent studio version, and this time is no exception.

So - there's a lot to like here. The video is well worth checking out too, and the solos become much more interesting when presented visually. Despite the shortcomings, where this album clicks it REALLY clicks. Four stars. Check it out.

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 Black Market by WEATHER REPORT album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.96 | 191 ratings

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Black Market
Weather Report Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mr. Gone

4 stars This may be overall my favorite WR album. That doesn't mean I believe it's truly a classic like their debut, but it's fun, enjoyable, sophisticated and accessible all at once. Top-notch writing and great performances, with Joe Zawinul adding in more - but not excessive - synthesizers (I'm looking at you, Domino Theory). Not a ton of soloing, but enough to make things interesting.

The title track starts off as a fun trot courtesy of Chester Thompson's laid-back drumming (despite the credits on the remaster, he plays the beginning portion of this song; Narada Michael Walden takes over in the frenetic ending after a hard cymbal edit); Zawinal plays a synth set up in reverse just for the challenge of it and you'd never know the difference. The song starts to wind up before breaking into a full gallop with an almost symphonic synth/sax line before winding down with a Wayne Shorter soprano solo. Just a great song that I never tire of hearing.

Zawinal's tribute to his former bandleader, Julian "Cannonball" Adderly, is a fantastic tune. Gentle synths and warbling bass courtesy of the newly minted Jaco Pastorious occupy much of the song before an almost elegiastic tenor sax solo from Shorter brings the song to an amazing crescendo. The synth/bass theme returns in a coda with more emphasis (likely with help from Shorter) before melting into an ambient section. All highly enjoyable and meaningful.

"Gibraltar" bubbles with energy. Great playing all around (Alex Acuņa's percussion here, as it is on the entire album, is excellent), and some great synth and sax interplay. A terrific first side by any standard.

Side two begins with "Elegant People". Wayne Shorter has always been sort of my "George Harrison" when it comes to WR - not as prolific as "Lennon/McCartney" (Zawinul), but I probably favor his songs the most (or at least a higher percentage of them). This is one of my faves by this group and by Shorter himself - probably one of my top three WR tracks ever. I particularly love the piano near the beginning before the main theme of the song breaks in. Terrific drums and percussion (again), and Alphonso Johnson's bass playing is melodic and energetic. Shorter's terrific solo in the middle is the icing on a very delicious cake. (Can you tell I love this song?)

After such a great song (great four songs, really), "Three Clowns" is a bit of a letdown. It's definitely an attempt at being truly experimental on the strange-sounding lyricon, but having it as a central instrument with very sparse surroundings makes it just not work very well. It doesn't even work as a tone poem like "The Elders" or "Badia". Given that jazz is about pushing boundaries, though, I can forgive this as a failed attempt to do something original and appreciate the spirit in which it is offered.

"Barbary Coast" is a bouncy, poppish electric piano/bass/sax tune that doesn't have a ton of variety but is highly enjoyable nonetheless. Pastorious made a nice start in the group here as a composer (his debut album is terrific as well) and his playing and writing would become essential to the WR sound for the next several albums.

The album finishes with Johnson's "Herandnu", which starts with Shorter blowing over an odd synth/bass time signature before breaking out into a more traditional rhythm with lots of nice interplay. A bit overlong, perhaps, but still enjoyable, and a nice valedictory for Johnson in the band.

Is it perfect? No. There are a few not-so-classic moments in the album's latter half. But the first four songs alone are all five-star efforts, and the more experimental or poppish material later is still better than many groups could ever hope to achieve on their best day. The playing is awesome, and the composing is at worst good and at best outstanding. I break this out often after many listens, and will continue to do so. Four enthusiastic stars.

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 Sweetnighter by WEATHER REPORT album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.72 | 108 ratings

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Sweetnighter
Weather Report Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator 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.

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 Weather Report (1982) by WEATHER REPORT album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.09 | 54 ratings

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Weather Report (1982)
Weather Report Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Weather Report" is the eponymously titled 10th full-length studio album by US jazz/fusion act Weather Report. The album was originally released through Columbia Records in February 1982. It's the second self-titled album in the group's discography as their debut full-length studio album, released in 1971, was also a self-titled affair. "Weather Report" is the last album to feature the rythm section of bassist Jaco Pastorius and drummer Peter Erskine.

The music on the album is unmistakably the sound of Weather Report. By now not as adventurous or cutting edge as was the case in the seventies, but still an interesting enough listen. The rythm section on the album, which in addition to Jaco Pastorius and Peter Erskine also includes percussionist Robert Thomas Jr. are tight and well playing, but as always it's the keyboard attack and saxophone playing of bandleaders Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter respectively, that define the band's sound. On this release it's especially Jaco Pastorius bass playing that I'm impressed by though.

The compositions are generally of decent quality and the album is packed in a nice organic sound production, but I don't really think there are many of the tracks that leave a lasting impression and sometimes (too often) the music is closer to complex muzak than jazz/fusion with depth. Listen to a track like "Current Affairs" for proof of that. It's pleasant enough background music, but it's not the kind of track I'd put on to listen to intriguing adventurous details. It's an issue I've had before with other albums/tracks by the band and "Weather Report" is another one to the collection of more standard quality output by Weather Report. Not really bad but not spectacular either. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

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 Black Market by WEATHER REPORT album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.96 | 191 ratings

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Black Market
Weather Report Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

4 stars In 1978-79 I listened for the first time to this band with an album called "Mr-Gone" which I didn`t like. Since then I realized that this band, as others in any musical style, wasn`t really a band. It was really a "team" of two main composers and leaders (Zawinul and Shorter) with other musicians who were more like their "employees". So, the line-ups never were permanent due to these situations. Unfortunately, egos reign in the music business, and with the passing of time they cause a lot of problems in the interactions, friendships and work among the musicians.

I really wanted to listen to this album because I read that drummer Chester Thompson participated in it. I consider him as one of the best drummers I have listened to, so I listened to this album. First, as I do many times before listening to an album or to a band, I read about their history and the circunstances on which this album was recorded. I also found in the web an interview done with Thompson some years ago on which he explains how he was involved with this band. He said that he played with this band after being for several years with Frank Zappa`s band, but Zappa split his band for a time, so Thompson was unemployed, but fortunately he was a very good friend of bassist Alphonso Johnson (who also participated in this album). Both played in this band for more or less a year before Johnson left the band durig the recording of this album in late 1975. Having secured a recording contract for his own projects, he simply didn`t appear in the studio (without telling anybody about this) when the band returned to the recording sessions in early 1976. Zawinul and Shorter assumed that Thompson, being a very good friend of Johnson`s also wasnīt going to return to the band, but Thompson returned, and then he found two new "members" in the band: drummer Michael Walden (also a very good drummer) and bassist Jaco Pastorious (a very good bassist like Johnson, but with a more complicated style in comparison). So, Thompson was then informed that he wasn`t required as drummer anymore and he wasn`t treated well in this situation and this caused some problems. Anyway, after recording two musical pieces (the first two which appear in the album) with Walden and Pastorious, the leaders finally realized that Walden`s style wasnīt as compatible to the band as Thompson`s , so Thompson returned to the recording sessions to record a final track, but his style wasn`t compatible with Pastorius`, and this with also the strain in the personal relationship with the leaders led Thompson to leave the band after the album was completed.

Well. After writing about the "usual politics" in bands, I can say that this album is very good. The compositions are very good and the tracks on which Thompson and Johnson recorded together are the best in this album, particularly the last track in this album called "Heradnu", composed by Johnson. At least it seems that the main composers and leaders gave some "musical freedom" to Thompson and Johnson, who as a team worked very well. Pastorius and Walden also are very good musicians, of course. So, after listening to this album my musical opinion about this band changed because the style of the album is more in the Jazz-Rock Fusion style in comparison to "Mr. Gone" which was more in the Funky and Disco styles. So, this album really deserves the respect it has as a very good Jazz-Rock Fusion album (despite the "usual politics" which are really a shame but they happen very often in the music business).

A final "correction": Thompson said in that interview that the first track in this album is really an edit of two versions of the same musical piece, but one recorded with Walden and Pastorius, and the other recorded with him and Johnson.

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 Live At Montreux 1976 by WEATHER REPORT album cover DVD/Video, 2006
4.60 | 11 ratings

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Live At Montreux 1976
Weather Report Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BORA

5 stars Ah, blessed relief!

I was a bit reluctant to invest into this DVD. My reason is simple. I saw the band perform around 1980 in Cologne, Germany. That show for me represented a big disappointment, a waste of effort (in getting there and back home), money and a good night's sleep. Little I anticipated then that WR were about to release a string of weak and rather forgettable material in the early 80's that eventually led to the ban to - disband.

But this is 1976 and Montreux and the prestige of the venue hopefully compels. Also, that around this time WR were at their peak, so fingers crossed, I got the DVD. Well, even if it doesn't please I am not about to endure the associated inconveniences of attending a live show.

I am happy to say that my concerns were premature. Without much ado, it is indeed a fine performance of the band at it's best. Even the often sidelined co-leader, Wayne Shorter gets more room to impress when compared with his short soundscapes on the band's studio material.

For 1976, both the audio and the video qualities are surprisingly good. (Ah, when do we get a decent quality DVD of Genesis "Seconds Out" of the same year?)

On the strength of this excellent concert, I am now more inclined to check out other, pre-1980 live material of Weather Report. This one is highly recommended.

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 I Sing The Body Electric  by WEATHER REPORT album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.77 | 118 ratings

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I Sing The Body Electric
Weather Report Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Weather Report's debut was warmly received by the press as one of the best examples of early Fusion, but its release was followed by the departure of Airto Moreira, who's commitments with Miles Davis prevented him from following the band's schedule.He proposed Dom Um Romao as his replacement, but disagreements on tour resulted another major loss.Drummer Alphonse Mouzon quit from his responsibilities and was replaced by Eric Gravatt.The updated Weather Report line-up recorded another album, ''I Sing the Body Electric'' in November 71' and January 72', released on Columbia in May 72' for the US market and on CBS for Europe.

While Waether Report's debut was a bit of a semi-loose but well-constructed affair, their sophomore work sounds a bit headscratching to my ears.The first four tracks are studio cuts, recorded at Columbia Studios in New York, but while having an instant Fusion delivery, they sound too Avant-Garde for my tastes, like a mix of Avant-Fusion, Experimental Jazz with a touches of Fusion reminiscent of their debut.Too smooth at moments, with long individual solos and lacking the dominant keyboard techniques of Zawinul as captured on their debut.Still there are some impressive moments with the band in full collaboration, performing an edgy and very powerful Jazz/Fusion with great instrumental depth, but these are too few compared to the more free approach of these pieces.

The final three pieces were captured live in Shibuya Kokaido Hall in Tokyo, Japan, sometime in January 72'.All of them along with a few more are contained in the first live album of the group ''Live in Tokyo'', released also in 1972 on CBS, originally headed for the Japanese audience.These sound a bit better than the first pieces, which were rather dissapointing.They still lack even a bit of structured textures and rely heavily on Shorter's sax improvisations, but they are much into Jazz/Fusion than more experimental forms.Dynamic percussion parts, swirling electric piano by Zawinul and a frenetic rhythm section offer some good ideas of virtuosic musicianship.Some passages are too jazzy in my opinion, but most of them fall into the aesthetics of the growing Fusion sound.

''I Sing the Body Electric'' is not what I actually expect by a band with so many talent.Too loose and even too experimental at moments, it fails to grab me from the start and only the live pieces have some really interesting moments.Definitely not a winner, but a good purchase for those starving for some diverse but a bit dated Fusion sound...2.5 stars.

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 Heavy Weather by WEATHER REPORT album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.62 | 204 ratings

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Heavy Weather
Weather Report Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Argonaught

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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 Tale Spinnin' by WEATHER REPORT album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.51 | 79 ratings

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Tale Spinnin'
Weather Report Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Isa
Prog Reviewer

4 stars |B-| A diverse, over-complicated, groovy, and occasionally beautiful work of jazz-fusion.

Tale Spinnin' seems the be considered somewhat of the red-headed stepchild of the group's early work (as in before the famed Heavy Weather, I suppose). As it has been awhile since I've done a review on here, I figured I'd do this one since I should probably give my LP copy back to my old friends (from whom I borrowed it) at some point soon. As this is my first real excursion into Weather Report's music, I don't have other albums for comparison, so this review will be very much focused on the album in it of itself (unlike most reviews on it) in the context my general understanding of jazz-fusion, which is limited but not in ignorance.

I think this bit from the liner notes can tell a lot about the unique variety of jazz-fusion that this particular album might possess: "The harmonies of Tale Spinnin' come from street celebrations, the harmonies of different peoples of different cultures gathering to participate in the most basic and essential of musical activities, song and dance." And as it also says in the liner notes, harmony, for Weather report, is synonymous with music itself, and that dance itself had a lot to do with their mentality in creating the album.

Thus, I wonder how much of the red-headed stepchild praise on this album is really due to the use of dance harmonies with may not be well understood by more heavily "western culture" oriented people, where the traditional harmonic format is sufficiently different, and thus perhaps less relate-able to most of us in America or Europe, not unlike Piazzolla's work with tango (though he had even more western art music influence, for sure). This might just be speculation on my part, but I've been exposed to enough Latin American music to have some foundation in that assertion, I hope.

Anyway, on to my musical analysis: Man in the Green Shirt was, as far as the liner notes say, inspired by an old man in a green shirt dancing off to the side to the St. Thomas Steel Band's performance in the Virgin Islands. Lots of creative, brilliant Latin-American percussion for the whole piece, with some great melodies and song-like solo work on the Soprano Sax by Wayne Shorter, one of the biggest names among jazz Saxophonists. I love the dialogue that he and Josef Zawinul have in the between the saxophone solos. This is definitely a complex and heavy piece of jazz fusion. The album quickly breaks into Lusitanos, which is a slower, more groovy, with a heavily "wah"ed out bass, and thick chords from Zawinul. I think this is a pretty cool and interesting piece, really, and Shorter really sings the sax. There's some pretty crazy, awesome work on the piano by Zawinul, which is a real treat since you don't often hear just regular acoustic piano in jazz fusion, or at least I haven't. Between the Thighs (interesting enough title if I might say so...) is probably my favorite work off the album, starting off with a fantastic, groovy riff from the guitar by itself with lots of wah, and the whole piece is just great in the way it unfolds itself into a real dance-able groove, and I especially like Al Johnson's work on bass. I see why this ended up the longest work on the album, I think the band just really locked into a great vibe about the material for this track, and thus kept jamming on it, adding new great ideas to previous great ideas. Flipping the LP over (I know, aren't I so old school...), the piece Badia has a very folk-ethnic sound, using non-western percussion in a solemn, meditative way, with piano harmonies and acoustic bass bends adding to the meditative sound, eventually with a sweet synth melody, and some instruments I've never heard of, Melodica, Mzuthra, West Afric (??). I'll probably look those instruments up after this review. What's more, the main melody is apparently based on a japanese-influenced melody sang by the drummer, Ndugu. it's a really great, beautiful work of art music, probably among the band's best, I'd expect. Freezing Fire is definitely the opposite of the last trick, starting off with more frantic sort of druming, with some heavy, thick long-tone chords from Zawinul, and to me this piece really is the weakest part of the album, the long-tones just don't compliment the fast playing by the drums and bass, it's just a really weird and overly complicated piece, and even Zawinul's solo playing just sounds really technical and, just "there", not adding much to the appeal of the piece, in my opinion, though he plays around with harmony in cools ways every so often. I don't know what the band was thinking making this piece, let alone what they might have been getting at. The next piece Five Short Stories, luckily, starts off with slow, beautiful piano playing, with some great timbre texture experiments with saxophone and organ. There are no drums in the entire work, just lush playing from the two musicians, Shorter and Zawinul.

I'd say I personally enjoy and respect this album enough the warrant it a bit more credit than many others seem to. I understand why some might find it a difficult album, and it does really stretch the ears of the listener on numerous occasions. [However, the main weakness I find in the album, which I recall finding in other material (here and there) that I have heard over the years, is this, from the liner notes: "The music of Weather Report has always been built upon the foundations of details, on the smallest touches," which I feel that the band, whatever their positive attributes, sometimes really fail to see the forest for the trees, often forgetting about the album - and sometimes even a particular piece - as a whole cohesive work, and focusing a bit too much on complicated details constantly.]

Nonetheless, as an enthusiastic, yet occasional connoisseur of jazz-fusion, this is an album which is I always enjoy putting on to simultaneously groove and contemplate, and I do think it to be an "excellent addition to any prog rock music collection", particularly for the jazz-fusion listener.

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