Weather Report's fifteen-year tenure was not only the longest of the fusion groups that emerged from the post-Bitches Brew eraincluding John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra, Chick Corea's Return to Forever, and Herbie Hancock's Headhuntersit was arguably the most broadly influential. Starting out as an electric free jazz collective but ultimately honing a sound that included world beat rhythms and a more orchestral approach defined by the distinctive sounds and compositions of saxophonist Wayne Shorter and keyboardist Joe Zawinul, Weather Report also introduced a number of inestimable talents, most notably the late bassist Jaco Pastorius, who singlehandedly reinvented the role of the electric bass.
Over the years a host of artists have made their debt to Weather Report's innovations clear. Guitarist Scott Henderson and bassist Gary Willis' Tribal Tech, for example, clearly found inspiration in latter-period Weather Report's sonic textures. Others, like bassist Marcus Miller, paid more direct tribute by recording Pastorius' "Teen Town," but reinvented the melody on a slapped and popped fretted bass, instead of simply copying it on a fretless.
Both Miller's version of "Teen Town" and an original tribute by Tribal Tech can be found on Mysterious Voyages, a new anthology that pays homage by interpreting well-known (and some not-so-well-known) Weather Report tunes, as well as new pieces acknowledging a clear debt. The generous two and a half hour-plus double-disc set is filled with a veritable who's who of contemporary jazz, including bassists Christian McBride, Matthew Garrison, and Kai Eckhardt; saxophonists Bill Evans and Bob Malach; pianist/keyboardists Patrice Rushen, Scott Kinsey, and Rachel Z; and drummers Adam Nussbaum, Paco Sery, and Kirk Covington. The material includes Christian Jacob and Terje Gewelt's gentle acoustic piano/bass duet rendition of Zawinul's "A Remark You Made," guitarist Rocco Zifarelli's power trio reading of Pastorius' "Havona," a surprising newgrass-inflected two-guitar cover of Weather Report's biggest hit, "Birdland," and an Americana-tinged reading of Pastorius' classic "Three Views of a Secret."
But as much as the covers are worth the price of admission by themselves, some of the new material is equally compelling. Tribal Tech's otherworldly tone poem "You May Remember Me" suggests how Weather Report might have sounded had it been a guitar-keys-bass-drums quartet. Kai Eckhardt's "Queen of Cups" begins with the kind of bass solo Pastorius might be playing if he were alive today, before evolving into a dark and spacious ballad that is more economical, texturally, than anything involving Zawinul could ever be. Scott Kinsey's "Big Rock" evolves Zawinul's later world rhythm-based work, sounding like something out of Procession or Sportin' Life: reverential, without being strictly imitative.
A broad-based and loving tribute, Mysterious Voyages offers greatest appeal to Weather Report fans who want to hear the music taken to the next step. But homage aside, it also stands alone as a terrific collection of music from some of today's most notable fusion namesand a few others who will undoubtedly be heard from more in the future.
Track Listing: CD1: Scott Kinsey: Bog Rock; Marcus Miller: Teen Town; Michiel Borstlap and Yuri Honing: Memory of Enchantment; Trinity: Weather is Changing; Michael Wolff Trio: Pinocchio; Tribal Tech: You May Remember Me; John McLean: Three Views of a Secret; Kai Eckhardt: Queen of Cups; Angel Celada: Corner Pocket; Rachel Z Trio: On the Milky Way Express; Gary Willis: Emancipation. CD2: White House: Bombay; Terje Gewelt and Christian Jacob: A Remark You Made; Rocco Zifarelli: Havona; Jim Beard: Fever; Acoustic Manila: Birdland; De Winkel/Gwizdala/Waage/Kinsey: Scarlet Woman; Karizma: Palladium; Tony Grey: White Woods; Alex Gunia: American Tango; Slop Shop: Overlook Hotel; Mantra: Mysterious Trsveller; Clive Stevens: Beat 17
Personnel: Scott Kinsey Band: Scott Kinsey (microKorg vocoder, reason malstrom solo, nord lead 2, electro organ, samples), Steve Taglione (alto flute solo, bass clarinet, EWI, sampled recorder, electric guitar), Armand Sabal-Lecco (electric bass), Brad Dutz (congas, percussion), Kirk Covington (Yamaha drums, zildjan cymbals, sticks), Cyril Atef and Karim Ziad (vocalizations, handclaps), Mamady Keita (sampled vocals) Marcus Miller: Marcus Miller (bass guitar, bass clarinet), Hiram Bullock (guitar), Philippe Saisse (keyboards), Steve Ferrone (main beat - high hat, sidestick, bass drum), Omar Hakin (fill drums - snare drum, bass drum, cymbals), Don Alias (congas), Paulinho Da Costa (percussion), Andy Narell (steel drums) Michiel Borstlap and Yuri Honing: Michiel Borstlap (Korg M1), Yuri Honing (soprano saxophone) Trinity: Matthias Krauss (keyboards, sounds, programming), Franz Holtmann (guitars, soundstreching), Gudze (bass, editing), Marco Minnemann (drums, percussion), Holger Czukay (English horn) Michael Wolff Trio: Michael Wolff (piano), Christian McBride (bass), Tony Williams (drums) Tribal Tech: Scott Henderson (guitar), Scott Kinsey (keyboards), Gary Willis (bass), Kirk Covington (drums) John McLean: John McLean (guitar), Larry Kohut (acoustic bass), Karl Montzka (piano, Hammond B-3), Jim Gailloretto (sax), Adam Nussbaum (drums) Kai Eckhardt: Kai Eckhardt (bass), Aydin Esen (keyboards), Sean Rickman (drums) Angela Celeda: Andrej Olejniczak (tenor sax), Alfredo Mahiques (trombone), Nando de la Casa (piano, keyboards), Tony Carmano (guitar), Carlos Velasco (guitar), Laurent Vernerey (bass), Angel Celeda (drums) Richard S. &and The Vibe Tribe: Richard S. (guitar), Bill Evans (soprano sax), Bob Malach (tenor sax), Patrice Rushen (synthesizers), Kai Echkardt (bass), Terri Lyne Carrington (drums), Munyungo Jackson (percussion), Roy Galloway (backing vocals), Orin Waters (backing vocals) Rachel Z Trio: Rachel Z (piano), Miriam Sullivan (bass), Allison Miller (drums) Gary Willis: Gary Willis (fretless bass, keyboards), Steve Taglione (EWI), Dennis Chambers (drums) White House: Boudewijn Lucas (bass, shekere, loop programming), Michiel Borstlap (grand piano, fender rhodes, Korg M1), Yuri Honing (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone), Joost Lijbaart (drums), Bart Fermie (percussion, voice) Terje Gewelt and Christian Jacob: Terje Gewelt (acoustic bass, fender jazz bass), Christian Jacob (piano) Rocco Zifarelli: Rocco Zifarelli (guitar, guitar synthesizer), Matthew Garrison (bass), Paco Sery (drums) Jim Beard: Jim Beard (keyboards, additional drum programming), Bob Malach (tenor sax), Jon Herington (guitar), Arto Tuncboyaciyan (percussion), Matthew Garrison (bass), Zach Danziger (drum programming), Gene Lake (drums) Acoustic Mania: Antonio Forcione (nylon string guitar), Neil Stacey (guitar synthesizer) Torsten De Winkel: Torsten De Winkel (guitars, electric sitar, additional programming), Janek Gwizdala (electric bass, programming), Audan Waage (trumpet), Scott Kinsey (keyboards, additional programming) Karizma: David Garfield (keyboards), Michael Landau (guitar), Neil Stubenhaus (bass), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums) Tony Grey: Tony Grey (bass), Romain Collin (keyboards), Walter Smith III (sax), David Fuiczynski (guitar), Kenwood Dennard (drums) Alex Gunia: Alex Gunia (guitar), André Cayres (double bass), Michael Klaukien (drums) Slop Shop: J. Peter Schwalm (synths, vocoder, sonics), Christoph Buhse (drums), Mark Oliver Klenk (guitar), Heiko Himmighoffen (percussion) Mantra: Jon Ozment (organ, electric piano, synth), Chuck Underwood (guitar loops), Mark Merella (drums, percussion) Clive Stevens: Clive Stevens (keyboards, sax, WX7-MIDI-wind controller), Lincoln Goines (bass), Frank Colon (percussion), Steve Gaboury (sound design).