There is no question that Weather Report, the brainchild of Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter formed hot on the heels of Bitches Brew, deserves this long-overdue box set. The group's first few albums defied and established classifications whose reverberations are felt to this day.
But first, a two-headed complaint: Why are we only given two unreleased tracks out of 37 total? And why only a three-disc set? Zawinul and Shorter were involved in the selection of these admittedly seminal tracks, but all the albums proper haven't even seen stateside remastering yet! Hopefully, as with Monk's Columbia catalog, this set portends such long-deserved and criminally neglected treatment.
That said, the track selection here is very good, making Forecast: Tomorrow a perfect primer for the uninitiated. Every die-hard fan will certainly have gripes about omissionsnotably a glaring lack of "Corner Pocket"but all the essentials are here. The first disc focuses on the first lineup, with some pre-WR selections to nicely set the stage. A few of the tracks from the group's debut sport new remixesagain, is a new reissue in the offing? Best of all, though, is a previously unreleased studio version of the seminal "Directions, which WR tears through in grand style.
Disc two begins with the other unreleased gem, a positively scorching thirteen-minute version of "Nubian Sundance, from Mysterious Traveler, recorded in Chicago in 1974. It's so nice also to hear "Blackthorn Rose again, a more achingly beautiful entry not to be found in the band's catalog. And what would any WR collection be without "Birdland, maybe by default the quintessential track from the Jaco Pastorius era. The fact that "125th Street Congress still sounds no more dated than does "Domino Theory speaks to strong foresight; indeed, many of the later tracks don't sound as bad as one remembers.
The accompanying DVD, a concert from 1978 with the Jaco Pastorius/Peter Erskine version of the group, presents some important tracks not found in the box's main content. The studio counterpart of "A Remark You Made now seems tepid alongside this searing live account, where Shorter's soulfulness shines front and center. Jaco grooves out with a delayed solo similar to the one on Joni Mitchell's Shadows in Light (Elektra, 1980), complete with quotations from "Third Stone from the Sun. The recording, like much live Weather Report, is good without being stunning, but it's a nice crisp mix and it's heavy on individual detail. The DVD might be the best part of a package that, while welcome, could have been better.
Track Listing: CD1: In a Silent Way; Super Nova; Experience in E (excerpt); Milky Way; Tears; Eurydice
(full version); Orange Lady; Unknown Soldier; Directions (tk. 1); Surucucu; Second Sunday
in August; 125th Street Congress.
CD2: Nubian Sundance (previously unreleased live version); Blackthorn Rose; Badia;
Cannon Ball; Black Market; Three Clowns; Havona; Birdland; Palladium; The Pursuit of the
Woman with the Feathered Hat; The Orphan; Sightseeing.
CD3: Dream Clock; Three Views of a Secret; Port of Entry; Dara Factor Two; Procession;
Plaza Real; The Well; D-Flat Waltz; Domino Theory; Predator; Face on the Barroom Floor;
Indiscretions; 125th Street Congress (DJ Logic remix).
DVD: Black Market; Scarlet Woman; Young and Fine; The Pursuit of the Woman with the
Feathered Hat; A Remark You Made; River People; Thanks for the Memories;
Delores/Portrait of Tracy/Third Stone from the Sun; Mr. Gone; In a Silent Way; Waterfall;
Town; I Got it Bad and That Ain
Personnel: CD1: Joe Zawinul: organ, electric piano, prepared acoustic piano; Wayne Shorter:
tenor and soprano saxophones; Miles Davis: trumpet (1); John McLaughlin: guitar (1, 2);
Herbie Hancock: electric piano (1); Chick Corea: electric piano (1), drums (2); Dave
Holland: bass (1); Tony Williams: drums (1); Sonny Sharrock: guitar (2); Miroslav Vitous:
bass all tracks except (3); Jack DeJohnette: drums (2); Airto Moreira: percussion (2,5-8);
Nat Adderley: cornet (3); Cannonball Adderley: alto saxophone (3); Walter Booker: bass (3);
Roy McCurdy: drums (3); orchestra (3); Alphonse Mouzon: drums (5-8); Wilmer Wise:
piccolo trumpet (8); Hubert Laws: flute (8); Andrew White III: English horn (8), electric bass
(12); Yolande Bavan: vocals (8); Joshie Armstrong: vocals (8); Chapman Roberts: vocals (8);
Roger Powell: consultant (8); Eric Gravatt: drums (9-12); Dom Um Romao: percussion
(9-11), pandeira, cuica, tamanco, chucalho, gong, tambourine, cowbell (12); Herschell
Dwellingham: drums (12); Marungo: Israeli jar drum (12). CD2: Joe Zawinul: electric piano,
synthesizers, oud, melodica, mzuthra, vocal, west
africk, xylophone, acoustic piano, orchestration, ARP 2600, Yamaha grand piano,
Oberheim polyphonic synthesizer, keyboards, kalimba, thumbeki drums, sleigh bells;
Wayne Shorter: tenor and soprano saxophones, vocals; Alphonso Johnson: electric bass
(1,3,5,6); Darryl Brown: drums (1); Dom Um Romao: percussion (1); Alyrio Lima:
(3); Ndugu: drums (3); Jaco Pastorius: electric bass, mandocello, vocals, steel drums,
drums (4,7-10,12); Narada Michael Walden: drums (4,5); Don Alias: percussion (5); Alex