Weather Report: Live and Unreleased

Todd S. Jenkins By

Sign in to view read count
Weather Report: Live and Unreleased Columbia/Legacy have dug even deeper into their closets and dusted off eighteen excellent live performances by one of fusion's finest units. These tracks, recorded between 1975 and 1983, represent several different lineups of the band whose only permanent members were Shorter and Zawinul. As iffy as some of Weather Report's studio albums were — too often sacrificing taste for the sake of chops — it was always hard to argue with their astonishing live presence. The tracks gathered here hold all the promise of those legendary live shows, and myriad surprises.

The set starts off on a high point, a searing version of "Freezing Fire by the lineup with Johnson, Thompson and Acuna. The immediate drum thunder grabs hold of the ears and won't let go. Shorter is slightly out of tune as usual, but his solo is furiously exciting. Zawinul characteristically selects his notes and timbres well, taking a slower pace for effect on his improv. Johnson is in tremendous form and amped so loudly that he blasts out wild distortion at one climactic point. After such a head-rush, "Plaza Real is almost a letdown. It is a quiet tune to begin with, making room for Rossy's pretty concertina, but it is recorded at a very low volume and remains there most of the time. Shorter takes an amazing solo on "Fast City while Pastorius remains fairly far back in the mix. Not so on "Portrait of Tracy , one of the bassist's signature tunes, which Zawinul colors with space-age synth burbles. Jaco elicits hearty laughs by beginning with Carol Burnett's closing theme before striking those glorious harmonics. The remainder of the first disc contains similarly fiery renditions of WP staples. Very satisfying.

Disc 2 begins with the percussionists' voices and samba whistles, leading into the jaunty theme of "Black Market . There are several less familiar themes on this disc: "Where the Moon Goes , a weirdly complex tune with Zawinul's voice run through the Vocoder; the downright dangerous "Two Lines ; Shorter's moody "Cigano . Zawinul and Shorter honor their roots by including two tunes Zawinul wrote during his days with Miles Davis, "In A Silent Way and "Directions . The former is a thing of stately beauty, the latter a vigorous fuse-fest like most of WP's best material. "Port of Entry is a bit static despite Pastorius' kicky false harmonics, but the bassist locks in perfectly with Erskine on the percolating "River People .

Bob Belden goes out of his way to dredge up as much quality material as possible for Legacy to issue. Luckily, his judgment so far has been consistently sound. These live tracks are treasures for the most part, a welcome addition to the refreshed Weather Report canon.

Track Listing: Disc 1: Freezing Fire; Plaza Real; Fast City; Portrait of Tracy; Elegant People; Cucumber Slumber; Teen Town; Man in the Green Shirt. Disc 2: Black Market; Where the Moon Goes; River People; Two Lines; Cigano; In A Silent Way/Waterfall; Night Passage; Port of Entry; Rhumba Mama; Directions/Dr. Honoris Causa.

Personnel: (Collective:) Joe Zawinul, keyboards; Wayne Shorter, soprano and tenor saxes and Lyricon; Victor Bailey, Jaco Pastorius, electric bass; Alphonso Johnson, electric bass and Chapman Stick; Chester Thompson, Omar Hakim, Peter Erskine, drums; Alex Acuna, Robert Thomas, Manolo Badrena, percussion; Jose Rossy, percussion and concertina.

Title: Live and Unreleased | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Columbia Records


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Magnetic CD/LP/Track Review Magnetic
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 27, 2017
Read A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard
by Mark E. Gallo
Published: July 27, 2017
Read Someone Else CD/LP/Track Review Someone Else
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 27, 2017
Read Falling Forward CD/LP/Track Review Falling Forward
by James Nadal
Published: July 27, 2017
Read I Know Who I Am CD/LP/Track Review I Know Who I Am
by James Nadal
Published: July 26, 2017
Read "Close Enough" CD/LP/Track Review Close Enough
by Budd Kopman
Published: August 8, 2016
Read "Trickster" CD/LP/Track Review Trickster
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: May 11, 2017
Read "Boston, 1954" CD/LP/Track Review Boston, 1954
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: October 1, 2016
Read "New Helsinki" CD/LP/Track Review New Helsinki
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 8, 2017
Read "Blooming Tall Phlox" CD/LP/Track Review Blooming Tall Phlox
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 23, 2017
Read "Natural Language" CD/LP/Track Review Natural Language
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: September 2, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.