Weather Report - S & D

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Don't know why I've never ended up listening to Weather Report, maybe I was swayed by the supposed uncoolness of jazz/funk/fusion. But I think I'd probably like them. What's worth getting and where should I start?

James Ball (James Ball), Monday, 27 January 2003 11:13 (twenty years ago) link

The first one popping to mind for da Searchin' would be Black Market, quite a great rekkid.

nickalicious (nickalicious), Monday, 27 January 2003 14:08 (twenty years ago) link

Someone gave my sister a copy of HEAVY WEATHER when it came out in what? `79 or something? Their version of "Birdland" was pretty cool, if I remember correctly (ps: I know positively fuck-all about jazz, which is probably painfully obvious). Jaco Pastorious played fretless bass on it, which sounded neat-o. Fave Jaco story: according to one biography of his, the manic jazzbo bass wizard once drove a motorcycle into a hotel lobby and promptly passed out and fell off. When they ran over to him after he'd fallen off the bike, they discovered a live octopus on his person. True story.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Monday, 27 January 2003 14:35 (twenty years ago) link

" Their version of "Birdland" ..."

waddya mean, "version"? it's THEIR tune, for fk's sake. written by Papa Zawinul

t\'\'t (t\'\'t), Monday, 27 January 2003 14:45 (twenty years ago) link

(sorry for da rude worde. 'm trying to be 'bit more constructive now)

'Black Market' and 'Mysterious Traveller' are evidently amongst their best albums; 'Heavy Weather' and 'Sweetnighter' have several good pieces each (tho' Zaw's claim to having "inveted hip-hop" with '12th Stereet Congress' on the latter is glaringly absurdish).

their first two, 'Weather Report' and 'I Sing The Body Electric' sound rather different (rawer, more unadorned improv-passages) from what was to follow

and i wouldn't dare recommend their 80s recording to anyone

t\'\'t (t\'\'t), Monday, 27 January 2003 14:59 (twenty years ago) link

I like everything up to and including Heavy Weather -- some more than others, of course: I was never much taken with Black Market, and parts of Sweetnighter are a bit draggy. But the first self-titled album and Mysterious Traveller are among my favorite albums by anyone ever -- especially the latter: though I've never liked the opening track "Nubian Sundance" that much, the other songs on the album are tremendous, and the further you get into the album the more it turns into this series of incredibly nuanced and textured near-ambient pieces.

Also Side B of I Sing the Body Electric is fantastic -- it's excerpts from a live show in Tokyo 1972. Though they released the full 90-minute concert on Live in Tokyo 1972, I actually much prefer the shortened version -- there are a few Miles Davis-style "jump cut" edits that I think enhance the music tremendously, make it seem wilder and more unpredictable.

The opening track of Tale Spinnin', "The Man in the Green Shirt", is one of the best things Zawinul ever wrote, but the rest of the albums tails off a little (ha ha). On the other hand, I've never been that fond of "Birdland" and -- though I've tried hard to warm up to it -- I really don't like "A Remark You Made" (all I can hear is the cheese), but the rest of Heavy Weather still sounds as fresh today as it did when I first heard it...13, 14 years ago?

After Heavy Weather things start to get really dicey. I haven't actually heard Mr. Gone in its entirety, and it might be good. The live album 8:30 starts out appealingly if you're into the high-speed cokehead side of WR, but that ebbs really fast and the rest of the album doesn't hold my interest at all. Their next one, Night Passage, I actually quite like -- it's a little overblown, but the compositions are more oblique than anything they'd done since the early days, and some of the soloing is first-class stuff. Their final album with Jaco is a second self-titled album -- don't confuse this one with the first one! It's pretty dire -- Zawinul basically took control of the whole band and devoted an album to tedious over-arranged synthesizer workouts.

I've never heard a full album after that one; there might be a jewel buried in there somewhere -- I've heard Procession might have some good bits -- but I can't say I'm optimistic. Better to spend your money on Jaco's Word of Mouth, an album which could be analogized to Pet Sounds, i.e. a heavily arranged album in which a brilliant artist backs off from many of the things he'd been associated with and produces an understated masterpiece. (It's an analogy that's even easier to make given the fact that his next album, Holiday for Pans, did indeed go unreleased, has seen numerous bootleggings, and probably was a little bonkers -- though I strongly prefer Smile to Pet Sounds, so it might be great.)

Anyway, get Mysterious Traveller, see what you think, and if you don't like the first song, skip it: I always do, and it's one of my favorites!

Phil (phil), Monday, 27 January 2003 15:15 (twenty years ago) link

See, I thought it was their tune (being that it was theirs I heard first....prior to ::::shudder:::: Manhattan Transfer's), but like I said....I don't know dick about jazz. Anyhoo, sorry about that.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Monday, 27 January 2003 15:21 (twenty years ago) link

Sony/Columbia recently brought out a pretty gd single disc remastered 'Best Of' at mid-price, split evenly between Zawinul and Shorter compositions. I find that some of the synth sounds on the later recs are now horribly dated.

Andrew L (Andrew L), Monday, 27 January 2003 19:05 (twenty years ago) link

True re synth sounds.'Mr Gone' is the only record I've ever acquired where I was unable to get beyond the first five seconds. I like some of the bubblegum shit from their Cheyne-Stokes period tho

dave q, Monday, 27 January 2003 19:26 (twenty years ago) link

If I ever hear Birdland again I'm gonna go ballistic.

brg30 (brg30), Monday, 27 January 2003 22:23 (twenty years ago) link

Thanks for the advice, folks, that gives me some ideas.

Any more suggestions?

James Ball (James Ball), Tuesday, 28 January 2003 15:40 (twenty years ago) link

I'd definitely start with Mysterious Traveller first; a nice bridge between their earlier, rawer, more experimental albums and their later, slicker albums (that I don't care for too much, including Heavy Weather).

Another good one is I Sing the Body Electric, which has the eerie "Forgotten Soldier" and the beautiful "Second Sunday in August".

Joe (Joe), Tuesday, 28 January 2003 22:44 (twenty years ago) link

two years pass...
I'm debating whether to get that 'Best of compilation' if only because it's VERY cheap and has a great cover. Or should I start with something else? 'Heavy Weather'?

Baaderonixx ménage ses forces dans l'attente du Grand Soir (baaderonixx), Monday, 21 November 2005 11:50 (seventeen years ago) link

My favorite is I Sing the Body Electric, it's more rockin and the crowd noise is practically Cheap Trick at Budokan. The only other I have is Heavy Weather which is good but I hardly ever listen to it.

mcd (mcd), Monday, 21 November 2005 15:33 (seventeen years ago) link

I like the first two and some of the stuff with Jaco, but my two favorite Weather Report albums are Mysterious Traveler and The Sweetnighter.

If the greatest hits doesn't have "Nubian Sundance", then it is missing my favorite Weather Report song. That track is amazing.

earlnash, Monday, 21 November 2005 16:48 (seventeen years ago) link

Sweetnighter is the one to get if you like da funk. I dunno about Zawinul's claim to have invented hip hop with it, but there's plenty o' sampling fodder throughout.

original plagiarist, Tuesday, 22 November 2005 01:41 (seventeen years ago) link

there's plenty o' sampling fodder throughout.

....a fact that didn't escape the attention of Solex (check out "Rolex by Solex")

chëshy (chëshy f cat), Tuesday, 22 November 2005 02:16 (seventeen years ago) link


howell huser (chaki), Tuesday, 22 November 2005 03:13 (seventeen years ago) link


I must obtain posthaste, then. Thanks for the tip, howell.

Dave Segal (Da ve Segal), Tuesday, 22 November 2005 04:23 (seventeen years ago) link

"Heavy Weather" and "Black Market" are both great albums.

I wouldn't exactly destroy anything, but the earliest couple of albums were kind of weird....

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Tuesday, 22 November 2005 14:12 (seventeen years ago) link

eight years pass...

wow "black market"! i had no idea.

Mordy, Sunday, 8 June 2014 21:26 (eight years ago) link

one year passes...

I think the popularity of Birdland is one of the most baffling mysteries in music. It sounds like a PhD thesis where the project was to assemble all of the most annoying sounds that could be made by musical instruments on one track.

on entre O.K. on sort K.O. (man alive), Saturday, 20 February 2016 03:08 (seven years ago) link

Plus it has the most awkward groove, a bad 1970s electric swing moment, and that terrible frenzied double drumming at the end

on entre O.K. on sort K.O. (man alive), Saturday, 20 February 2016 03:09 (seven years ago) link

Gawd I dislike it. It sounds like Chip Davis. There's a ridiculous Manhattan Transfer live rendition on YouTube, if you feel like feeling things.

lute bro (brimstead), Saturday, 20 February 2016 05:08 (seven years ago) link

*bow bow bow! bow bow bowBOW!*

lute bro (brimstead), Saturday, 20 February 2016 05:09 (seven years ago) link

Weather Report were really good until Jaco Pastorius came along. There, I said it.

the top man in the language department (誤訳侮辱), Saturday, 20 February 2016 12:42 (seven years ago) link

The other night read the first chapter or so of Peter Erskine's book and it was hilarious.

Thank You For Cosmic Jive Talkin' (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 20 February 2016 14:40 (seven years ago) link

three months pass...

Live in Tokyo, holy shit. This album never disappoints, never fails to surprise. The best thing they ever did.

I agree w Phil about Mysterious Traveler, which made the biggest and best impression on me. Also check Zawinul's s/t solo album, incl. "In A Silent Way," which he wrote. I read that it was based on memories of being a shepherd boy in the misty mountains of Austria.

dow, Sunday, 5 June 2016 21:20 (six years ago) link

one year passes...

"jungle book" is so good. mysterious traveler is next level

reggie (qualmsley), Friday, 12 January 2018 18:59 (five years ago) link

one year passes...

got a v cheap copy of sweetnighter, Manolete is so amazing, especially the shift in groove about halfway through - I feel like it has an atmosphere so much of that early Mo Wax stuff was reaching for

SHANTY the golden fish portion (stevie), Friday, 18 October 2019 12:46 (three years ago) link

God, I love Sweetnighter. 125th Street Congress is immense.

Life is a meaningless nightmare of string (Chinaski), Friday, 18 October 2019 16:18 (three years ago) link

not only is it immense, it invented hip hop! lol

Seany's too Dyche to mention (jim in vancouver), Friday, 18 October 2019 16:29 (three years ago) link

nah it was Acker Bilk who invented hip hop! ace album is this.

calzino, Friday, 18 October 2019 19:10 (three years ago) link

one year passes...

I find that some of the synth sounds on the later recs are now horribly dated.
― Andrew L (Andrew L), Monday, January 27, 2003 1:05 PM (seventeen years ago)

True re synth sounds.'Mr Gone' is the only record I've ever acquired where I was unable to get beyond the first five seconds. I like some of the bubblegum shit from their Cheyne-Stokes period tho
― dave q, Monday, January 27, 2003 1:26 PM (seventeen years ago)

*whispers* I actually kinda love Mr. Gone.

But a good friend of mine put it best when he said there was a certain point where Zawinul seemed addicted to the most scrotal synth sounds he could find.

On average, this critic grades 8.3 points lower than other critics (Eric H.), Thursday, 12 November 2020 19:55 (two years ago) link

the start of the first track on mr gone rocks and the synth sounds are great

Politically homely (jim in vancouver), Thursday, 12 November 2020 20:14 (two years ago) link

lol at "scrotal synth sounds"

visiting, Thursday, 12 November 2020 20:43 (two years ago) link

one year passes...

Gave 'Live in Tokyo' a fairly attentive listen yesterday. Rhythm section is definitely playing a different grove than what is getting ready to come. It's got quite a bit of parts on the record kind of in that ambient style like 'In A Silent Way' or 'Odyessey of Iska'

I don't know that the standup with a fuzz sounds all that hot, which is what I kinda think it is. It is not a bad recording but the mix is a bit dark sounding.

earlnash, Tuesday, 12 July 2022 23:24 (eight months ago) link

I bought Domino Theory when it came out. Looking back, I am not sure how such a group of supremely talented musicians could make such a pedestrian album.

Josef 'Joe' Erich Zawinul - keyboards and synthesizers
Wayne Shorter - saxophones
Omar Hakim - drums
Victor Bailey - bass
José Rossy - percussion

immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Tuesday, 12 July 2022 23:33 (eight months ago) link

I kinda think some of those later Weather Report records were more pieced together in a studio compared to a jazz group playing a tune. They got an assembled and overdubbed feel like a lot of rock records. Not every track, but some are more of creating a piece. Not that it is a bad thing.

I've come to like the second self titled Weather Report a bit more on a few more listens.

The later stuff is still worth hearing, somewhat. Its like those later Mahavishnu records, taken on their own they are fairly interesting but compared to the atom bomb of the original group, hard to compare.

earlnash, Wednesday, 13 July 2022 00:00 (eight months ago) link

eight months pass...

god early weather report is just the greatest

flamenco drop (BradNelson), Thursday, 16 March 2023 15:03 (two weeks ago) link

Sweetnighter is the only record of theirs that has clicked with me so far. I'm warming to the first two now though.

dicbo=v2-ubswizzb&hrt (stevie), Thursday, 16 March 2023 15:19 (two weeks ago) link

I picked up a bunch of their albums at a yard sale years ago, but really never listen to them, or fusion in general. Since Shorter's passing I should dig them out and reevaluate.

Three Rings for the Elven Bishop (Dan Peterson), Thursday, 16 March 2023 16:07 (two weeks ago) link

The first two albums and Live in Tokyo are incredible, essential records. After that there are moments of inspired genius, but also a lot of questionable twists and fillers. Probably one of the best fusion bands with the most frustrating catalogs.

Maxmillion D. Boosted (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Thursday, 16 March 2023 17:03 (two weeks ago) link

There’s a CD box with all the pre-Jaco albums, which is all I need. Not a Pastorius fan AT ALL.

but also fuck you (unperson), Thursday, 16 March 2023 20:46 (two weeks ago) link

I always thought "Black Market" felt like the link between Genesis and Brand X.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 16 March 2023 20:55 (two weeks ago) link

(Weird, that's the track "Cannonball")

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 16 March 2023 20:56 (two weeks ago) link

I think Live in Tokyo and Mysterious Traveller are their two great albums, the ones I go back to, but I've got mixed feelings about the rest. Most of their albums have some good, even great tracks, but their music grew less interesting as time went on. In the beginning they really did sound otherworldly and likely seemed like a new, promising direction in jazz, especially when they were still developing. I want to say Mysterious Traveller is the pinnacle of this development, but also the turning point because from that point on they transformed into a pop-jazz group, or at least my idea of a respectable pop-jazz group for that time. Not nearly as adventurous or interesting as I would have liked, but they did record some tuneful and engaging stuff.

Outside of the two albums I mentioned, they may be best served by a good compilation. The Best of Weather Report is a pretty good overview, but it still misses some great stuff. For starters, nothing from their first two albums: at minimum, "Orange Lady" and "The Moors" should have been included, better than anything they did in their later years. But "Boogie Boogie Waltz" is definitely one of their best, and post-Mysterious Traveller, I'd probably put together "Man in the Green Shirt," "Lusitanos," "Freezing Fire," "Black Market," "Cannon Ball," "Elegant People," "Birdland," "A Remark You Made," "Teen Town," "The Elders" and "Night Passage."

birdistheword, Thursday, 16 March 2023 22:26 (two weeks ago) link

*Boogie Woogie Waltz

birdistheword, Thursday, 16 March 2023 22:28 (two weeks ago) link

don’t miss the zawinul self-titled from 1971, that’s probably mentioned somewhere in this thread

not too strange just bad audio (brimstead), Thursday, 16 March 2023 22:40 (two weeks ago) link

Absolutely, that is a great album. Kind of like a pre-Weather Report album where it's virtually their first album but with a few different players.

birdistheword, Thursday, 16 March 2023 23:00 (two weeks ago) link

Is that the one with Silent Way on it?

dicbo=v2-ubswizzb&hrt (stevie), Thursday, 16 March 2023 23:44 (two weeks ago) link

Correct, this one:

birdistheword, Thursday, 16 March 2023 23:49 (two weeks ago) link

Weird, that link didn't work.

Try this one

birdistheword, Thursday, 16 March 2023 23:50 (two weeks ago) link

love that Zawinul

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 17 March 2023 03:08 (two weeks ago) link

Weather Report just never clicked for me, but I love Eric Gravatt and Alphonso Mouzon, and I'll have to give the early stuff another try.

(spoiler for the Wayne Shorter thread, I'm sorry but I just don't love the soprano side)

change display name (Jordan), Friday, 17 March 2023 03:26 (two weeks ago) link

Odyssey of Iska by Shorter and Miroslav Vitouš’ Purple are a couple of other steps to that early Weather Report sound.

The Artist formerly known as Earlnash, Friday, 17 March 2023 03:29 (two weeks ago) link

xp Weather Report really does feel like Zawinul's group. I was under the vague impression that Shorter was supposed to be a co-leader, but as the years went on, he seemed to have less of a presence than the others. When I was reminiscing over Shorter records the two last weeks, I didn't bother to put on any of Weather Report's - the Jazz Messengers, the Miles Davis Quintet and his own (as well as a trip to see Sound Prints at the Village Vanguard), but that was it. I felt like those were the best display of what he gave.

birdistheword, Friday, 17 March 2023 04:10 (two weeks ago) link

*the last two weeks

birdistheword, Friday, 17 March 2023 04:10 (two weeks ago) link

I think Jaco and the pop success of Birdland probably put the squeeze on room for Shorter tunes in later Weather Report.

Mysterious Traveler is really good Shorter WR song.

Zawinul really expanded the pallet of keyboard sounds too and he seemed to state it opened him up as a composer, as he could do symphonic pieces himself.

The Artist formerly known as Earlnash, Friday, 17 March 2023 05:24 (two weeks ago) link

cosigning zawinul rec for early weather report fans. damn fine record.

''can be prusuaded to show gayness'' (Austin), Friday, 17 March 2023 05:44 (two weeks ago) link

when i am referring to early weather report i am mainly concentrating on sweetnighter and mysterious traveller by which point they had already incorporated funk rhythms and were making music pretty distinct from the "formation of the cosmos" stuff on the s/t and the extremely hard embryonic fusion workouts on live in tokyo but frankly i adore all of this stuff

i don't disagree with the assertion that this was mostly zawinul's band, but shorter's songs are usually my favorites, consider this absolutely sideways funk jam + "mysterious traveller" and "blackthorn rose" and "eurydice" and etc.

i had never heard i sing the body electric in full before yesterday and it was wild to queue up "the moors" and be like "... i recognize that guitar playing" and turns out it's fuckin ralph towner!

flamenco drop (BradNelson), Friday, 17 March 2023 13:05 (two weeks ago) link

Yeah, that's exactly the WR I love - fusion that's heavy on the funk and the weird noise fuckery. One of the tracks I love on Sweetnighter, I forget which one, has a section where the bass and the drums come in and totally change the direction of the track, and it sounds like it fell off Headz or something.

dicbo=v2-ubswizzb&hrt (stevie), Friday, 17 March 2023 14:12 (two weeks ago) link

I’ve been curious about albums by other WR members; I know Shorter’s work, that Zawinul LP, Vitous’ early work (as well as more recent ECM releases, Jaco’s debut…who else has some jams? Mouzon? Johnson?

omar little, Friday, 17 March 2023 16:16 (two weeks ago) link

Alphonse Mouzon has some *amazing* mid 70s albums.

but also fuck you (unperson), Friday, 17 March 2023 16:17 (two weeks ago) link

Here for the *Sweetnighter* love. Such a great album. Also the Zawinul love - his first album is all time. *The Rise & Fall of the Third Stream* is interesting and worth a listen as well. I love how Zawinul in his mid-to-late 30s for those albums, but looks in his 50s. Tough life, jazz.

I might rank Miroslav Vitous' *Infinite Search* up there with *Sweetnighter* and *Zawinul*; *Magical Shepherd* is great too, if a bit bonkers.

Shard-borne Beatles with their drowsy hums (Chinaski), Friday, 17 March 2023 17:55 (two weeks ago) link

does anyone else think of those early weather reports as kind of zawinul trying to synthesize his work from his time with miles and cannonball?

(chinaski otm- shoutout to early funky joe)

''can be prusuaded to show gayness'' (Austin), Friday, 17 March 2023 19:57 (two weeks ago) link

(not with miles and cannonball in the same band at the same time obviously)

''can be prusuaded to show gayness'' (Austin), Friday, 17 March 2023 19:58 (two weeks ago) link

ok i'm getting pretty deep into the weeds here so:

tale spinnin': can't help but feel like a comedown from mysterious traveller but it's still pretty ok. several amazing songs. just doesn't feel anywhere near as cohesive or like it's taking you somewhere strange and cool as its predecessor

black market: stupid good, funky and fresh from start to finish

heavy weather: people who hate jaco are posers in the extreme, anyway obv i'd heard this before and it still whips. "a remark you made" made me cry lol

mr. gone: very funny that this was named for shorter's absence from the studio. first side is great! murky and atmospheric and pretty like all the best weather report stuff but with a lot of weird hyper-clarity in the recording which i assume is only going to get more emphasized as i enter the '80s. the second side is... idk, less good, kinda willfully ugly and fussy at points. amazing to hear maurice white's voice emerge from the confusion on the final track

flamenco drop (BradNelson), Saturday, 18 March 2023 16:17 (one week ago) link

this thread fuckin owns

J Edgar Noothgrush (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Saturday, 18 March 2023 16:38 (one week ago) link

“Nubian Sundance” is my all time favorite WR jam. The drums and groove on that track is amazing. From what I had read, it was really tricky to get right which is why it fell out of live use as the percussionists changed.

The Artist formerly known as Earlnash, Saturday, 18 March 2023 17:14 (one week ago) link

i like the victor bailey 1986 contractual obligation album feat. carlos santana not joking

kurt schwitterz, Saturday, 18 March 2023 17:48 (one week ago) link

“Nubian Sundance” is astonishing; one of those tracks I’m not even sure how they pulled it off

عباس کیارستمی (Eric H.), Sunday, 19 March 2023 03:16 (one week ago) link

It is pretty much drum and bass before drum and bass.

The Artist formerly known as Earlnash, Sunday, 19 March 2023 06:08 (one week ago) link

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