WEATHER REPORT — Mysterious Traveller (review)

WEATHER REPORT — Mysterious Traveller album cover Album · 1974 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Sean Trane
By WR’s fourth album, Mysterious Traveller, the metamorphosis of the sizzling jazz-rock group to a groovy funky fusion-jazz was almost complete, as the whole scene was now slowly doing do by early 74, and the group not even bothering with a stable line-up anymore. Keeping only Um Romao as a permanent fixture, the Shorter-Zawinul duo is hitting full stride in their new direction, with Alphonso Johnson on bass. Graced with a mystic comet photo, this album shows just how red hot this combo could become once on stage.

Starting with the live-recorded lengthy Nubian Sundance (from Bitches Brew maybe?), the album has a full funk flavour due to Johnson’s bass play (even when Vitous returns on American Tango) that will pervade/proliferate throughout the whole album. Unless you are into this typical funk-jazz, most likely that you’ll be quickly bored with Cucumber Slumber (sleepy carrot, yourself ;-): don’t get me wrong this is flawlessly played, but rather too easy once settled into their groove, it is all soloing away. The no-less groovy funk title track (with a cosmic synth background) repeats the formula, albeit with a slightly evolving twist.

Scarlet woman is also a very repetitive track, but for some reasons, there is a little added drama with Shorter’s descending sax lines (he’s doubled by Zawinul’s synth) that serves the track well, even if it no cornerstone. Blackthorn Rose is just a Joe-Wayne duo, which brings some change of pace to the album, but very little added interest, especially once it gets dissonant. A delicate, but ultimately boring Jungle Book might be the second highlight of a rather weak album, IMHO

A rather dull and flawed (repetitive) album after three superb albums, MT is the first album that any real proghead can do without, unless he has a strong affinity for Hancock’s Headhunters period. Such is not the case, as I prefer Hancock’s Mwandishi period, which could be better compared (if you’ll allow such shortcuts) with WR’s first two albums.

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