Weather Report: Tale Spinnin' (2002)
"Man in the Green Shirt" is a Carnaval samba gone electric, buoyed by Zawinul's airy keyboard lilts and Shorter's concisely beautiful soprano playing. The rhythm section achieves the elusive combination of propulsion and subtlety that has been so sorely lacking in subsequent fusion. The mood shifts on a dime on occasion, bringing new surprises and occasions for creativity. Shorter's "Lusitanos" illustrates his gift for creating a memorable tune with the smallest of tools, and the understated funk-wah of Johnson's bass adds a humorous undertone. The humor carries over into Zawinul's cartoony "Between the Thighs": totally unpredictable rhythmic and melodic shifts abound, and Shorter gets flat down and dirty on soprano. "Badia" draws from North and West African influences, achieving tension through a judicious use of space, then "Freezing Fire" moves back into funky bass and express-train power. "Five Short Stories" is indeed almost like a children's fairy tale in its lovely simplicity, drawing us into the unspoken narrative with a keen interest.
It's especially gratifying that Columbia is finally getting around to reissuing albums from this now-underappreciated phase in Weather Report's development. There are many worthy treasures to be found in the pre-Jaco archives, stepping stones to greatness that deserve dusting off once more. This one is an especially lustrous prize.
Track Listing: Man in the Green Shirt; Lusitanos; Between the Thighs; Badia; Freezing Fire; Five Short Stories.
Personnel: Joe Zawinul, keyboards, melodica, piano, organ, vocal, xylophone; Wayne Shorter, soprano and tenor saxes; Alphonso Johnson, electric bass; Ndugu Chancler, drums, tympani, marching cymbals; Alyrio Lima, percussion.
Record Label: Columbia Records
Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock