269

Weather Report: Mysterious Traveller

Todd S. Jenkins By

Sign in to view read count
Weather Report: Mysterious Traveller In 1974, three years after the band's inception, Weather Report became one of the world's most popular jazz groups due to their uncompromising originality and musicianship. This was the year that founding member Miroslav Vitous was replaced by Alphonso Johnson, who became a critical asset as both a fluid, creative bassist and a composer. Drummer Ishmael Wilburn and Brazilian percussionist Dom Um Romao, with a shifting cast of supporting players, laid the foundation for the band's most exciting incarnation yet. The overdue reissue of Mysterious Traveller is a welcome acknowledgement of this mid-period lineup's importance in the evolution of fusion.

This album contains some of the Report's most popular works, chiefly the long opener "Nubian Sundance." The sound of cheering crowds (apparently tacked on in the studio to simulate a live performance) still seems a bit presumptuous today, but the overall performance is certainly worth cheering. Zawinul's weirdly nonsensical vocals seem a precursor to Pat Metheny's wordless singing, and they add a witty flavor to the tune. "Cucumber Slumber" is another perennial favorite which gives Johnson the chance to work out the funk via slides and double-stops. The skulking title track brings much fun as well, with Shorter squeaking out alarums in the alley. The bass and sax take a coffee break on "Jungle Book," leaving Zawinul with two percussionists to carve out an inarguable masterpiece. His ability to program the synthesizers to suit his vision was always key to the WR sound, and this track was the ultimate realization of his artistry.

The disc is admittedly uneven at times, a risk run by any ensemble that chews at boundaries as much as the Report. "American Tango," for example, is rather inconsequential in the big picture despite its interesting textures. It's an ironic farewell for Vitous as his bandmates had bigger fish to fry. "Scarlet Woman" is disconcerting on the first few listens, as Shorter and Zawinul cough out sinuous lines sporadically over a net of near-silence. On the other hand, the sax/piano duet "Blackthorn Rose" is both gorgeous and rejuvenating as a change of pace from the electronic effluvium.

Zawinul's motto for the group was "We always solo, we never solo." The special combination of freedom and composition that Weather Report consistently achieved on record amply testifies to that philosophy, and Mysterious Traveller is a quintessential piece of evidence.


Track Listing: Nubian Sundance; American Tango; Cucumber Slumber; Mysterious Traveller; Blackthorn Rose; Scarlet Woman; Jungle Book.

Personnel: (Collective:) Joe Zawinul, keyboards, vocals, percussion, melodica, guitar; Wayne Shorter, soprano and tenor saxes, tack piano, seashell; Alphonso Johnson, Miroslav Vitous, electric bass; Ishmael Wilburn, Skip Hadden, drums; Dom Um Romao, Ray Barretto, percussion; Isacoff, tabla, finger cymbals; Steve Little, tympani; Edna Wright, Marti McCall, Jessica Smith, James Gilstrad, Billie Barnum, James Auger Adderley, vocals.

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Columbia Records | Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Suite Ellington" CD/LP/Track Review Suite Ellington
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 26, 2016
Read "Message From Saturn" CD/LP/Track Review Message From Saturn
by James Nadal
Published: November 12, 2016
Read "Blues, Preludes and Feuds" CD/LP/Track Review Blues, Preludes and Feuds
by Geannine Reid
Published: November 22, 2016
Read "The LA EP" CD/LP/Track Review The LA EP
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 27, 2016
Read "Infinitude" CD/LP/Track Review Infinitude
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 31, 2016
Read "Open Window / Flying Colors" CD/LP/Track Review Open Window / Flying Colors
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 22, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!