Selected from seven albums that were recorded between 1973 and 1980, Columbia's "best of" collection of Weather Report hits makes a memorable impression. The band will never be forgotten. Throughout its 15-year existence, the jazz-rock fusion band regularly stirred a large body of emotions through its unique sound. No one else had that particular combination, which was born from tradition, full of innovation, and far from being too smooth. Wayne Shorter's natural saxophone tone casually rubbed elbows with Joe Zawinul's new-sounding keyboard imitations over a consistent backdrop of rock-rhythmic juice. Repetition played a major role, as bongos, bass, and numerous alien sounds entered the arena. Stretching out became standard fare.
Jaco Pastorius is represented quite well on four tracks, and powerful percussionists drive the album, while leaders Shorter and Zawinul interpret their own compositions with swing and spontaneity. As pioneers, they succeeded in convincing several generations that it was time to open the ears and consider how best to implement new changes in keyboard technology. Jazz has been polarized somewhat since then, but the spirit hasn't left. We still look for fresh, exciting answers. We still admire impressions that seem to come from exotic cultures and distant continents. And, we still look to the future for more changes in a growing art. When we hear Zawinul's "Birdland," we recognize that big things have been happening in the past 40 years; big things that everyone remembers. The movement that Shorter and Zawinul pioneered continues to spread today through other organizations. Few, however, do it so well.