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Weather Report - Sportin' Life CD (album) cover

SPORTIN' LIFE

Weather Report

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

2.48 | 52 ratings

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DocB
4 stars Sportin' Life came as a breath of fresh air when it was released in 1985, with Weather Report sounding more spontaneous, and Wayne Shorter contributing more than he had on some recent releases. The album followed two of the best releases since 1977's Heavy Weather - 1983's Procession and 1984's Domino Theory. My personal Weather Report favourites are Mysterious Traveller, Tale Spinnin' and Black Market, from the era that was the band's and jazz fusion's high point, and Sportin' Life harkens back to that era. I quite like it. Here's what the trades have to say about the album's merits:

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"The rap against post-Pastorius Weather Report has been that the group is too formulaic and Zawinul-dominated. Certainly the first three albums since Jaco's departure bear this out... Shorter's relative obscurity during this transitional period remains a mystery. But that argument falls apart with Sportin' Life. Shorter's contributions are indeed felt on this 14th Weather Report LP, the group's finest since Jaco went on to bigger (as in big band) things... For the first time in a long time, Weather Report sounds like a band. Of course, Mysterious Traveller holdouts may not care for the funk-and-vocals direction the group has taken of late. But that was more than a decade ago... This current combination clicks for me."

****

--Bill Milkowski, Down Beat, July 1985

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"A strong, frequently exhilarating work, the album thankfully dispenses with the rigid, formulated approach that made Weather Report's most recent records plodding exercises in tedium. Instead, the quintet has produced a pungent collection of songs that are as fresh and invigorating as a dip in a cool mountain stream on a hot summer day. Bassist Victor Bailey and drummer Omar Hakim, currently on tour with the Police's Sting, provide a nimble, constantly imaginative rhythmic foundation for Zawinul and Shorter. The synthesizer virtuoso and saxophonist respond with some of their most assured, concise playing in quite some time, spurred on by percussionist Mino CinÚlu, who accents their every move with perfectly timed accents. Several noted singers, including Carl Anderson and vocal sensation Bobby McFerrin, also make judicious contributions, most notably on Zawinul's explosive 'Corner Pocket.'"

--George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, April 14, 1985

DocB | 4/5 |

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