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.

Title: Mysterious Traveller | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Columbia Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Birdhoused CD/LP/Track Review Birdhoused
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 22, 2017
Read Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review Vol. 1
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 22, 2017
Read Meeting My Shadow CD/LP/Track Review Meeting My Shadow
by James Nadal
Published: July 22, 2017
Read No Secrets No Lies CD/LP/Track Review No Secrets No Lies
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 22, 2017
Read 50 CD/LP/Track Review 50
by Doug Collette
Published: July 22, 2017
Read Day After Day CD/LP/Track Review Day After Day
by John Eyles
Published: July 21, 2017
Read "Live At The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival" CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 3, 2017
Read "Live in New York" CD/LP/Track Review Live in New York
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 8, 2016
Read "Tiresia" CD/LP/Track Review Tiresia
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 11, 2016
Read "Trail Magic" CD/LP/Track Review Trail Magic
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 19, 2017
Read "The Big Shake-Up" CD/LP/Track Review The Big Shake-Up
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 21, 2016
Read "Passin' Thru" CD/LP/Track Review Passin' Thru
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 12, 2017

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!