WEATHER REPORT — Weather Report

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WEATHER REPORT - Weather Report cover
4.17 | 27 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1971

Filed under Fusion
By WEATHER REPORT

Tracklist

A1 Milky Way 2:30
A2 Umbrellas 3:24
A3 Seventh Arrow 5:20
A4 Orange Lady 8:40
B1 Morning Lake 4:23
B2 Waterfall 6:18
B3 Tears 3:22
B4 Eurydice 5:43

Total Time: 39:55

Line-up/Musicians

Joe Zawinul – Electric and acoustic piano
Wayne Shorter – Soprano saxophone
Miroslav Vitous – Electric and acoustic bass
Alphonse Mouzon – Drums, voice
Airto Moreira – Percussion

About this release

Columbia – C 30661 (US)

Recorded February 16 - March 17, 1971

Thanks to snobb, Abraxas for the updates

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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Abraxas
In a Silent Way

After the musical exploration that Miles Davis with his ''electric bands'' had achieved, the members that formed these bands decided to explore even further for themselves. One of these seperate groups was Weather Report which featured the alliance between Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter.

From the three classic jazz fusion groups that triumphed in the 70's, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report and Return to Forever, Weather Report will always be the less recognised and loved by "rock" fans. The obvious reason is that Weather Report never had a guitarist and instead the leading instrument was the saxophone and different aural keyboards, and besides that, they actually never played jazz rock in the manner of Return to Forever and The Mahavishnu Orchestra which both headed mostly towards rock or funk and in a highly technical way(not that Weather Report weren't capable of pulling off technical music).

Weather Report instead of adventuring further the rock sensibilities that Bitches Brew and A Tribute to Jack Johnson had, they opted to explore further the jazz improvisation essence of those albums, the result being pretty much avant garde fusion similarly like Hancock's Mwandishi trilogy. The apex of this exploration was 1972's I Sing the Body Electric.

As for the debut, from 1971, the band clearly showed which path they had chosen and the result is very much in the vein of In a Silent Way by Miles Davis. Overall a pretty moody album with delicate saxophone notes and mysterious jazzy organ/electric piano bits. However, it's not a totally calm and ambient-esque sea, with Alphonse Mouzon and Miroslav Vitous on the rhythm section, there's some really energetic stuff going on, more akin to Davis' live performances from the time, just not as psychedelic. Also Zawinul's electrically modified Rhodes can be pretty wild, add to that the really fine melodies that Shorter and Joe came with, that's what made it pretty different from Miles' more vague melodic ideas from the time. There's also Airto Moreira contributing exotic percussion which is a real plus.

So, basically, if you're a fan of Miles Davis' 69-71 output, this Weather Report album and I Sing the Body Electric will surely satisfy you after repeated listens. Also there's a chance you'll like more Zawinul & Shorter doing this type of music, than Davis'.

Members reviews

Sean Trane
With two WR members emanating from Miles’ Bitches Brew line-up (Zawinul and Shorter), it was obvious that their first album would be heavily influenced by it. But to everyone’s surprise, WR’s debut only took BB as a starting point and expanded on it, pushing the musical adventure a notch further and improvising so well and inspired, that you’d swear the whole thing is written. The duo enrolled the Czech-born Miroslav Vitous, (which will become an indispensable early WR’s pillar) than secured Brazilian-born percussionist Airto Moreira and drummer Alphonse Mouzon, thus creating a real super group or an all-star line-up, as the jazz circles prefer it. Released in March 71 on the Columbia banner with a strange abstract artwork, WR’s debut would take the JR scene by storm.

Right from the first twitches of Milky Way, we just know we’re in for a long strange trip, as the music flirts with atonalities, then reaching a strange metamorphosed Miles jazz-funk (Umbrellas) that takes away the pleasantness and replacing it with cold hard improvising. On Seventh Arrow (a Vitous track), Zawinul’s Fender Rhodes takes us sky-bound with Shorter’s sax hovering like a mosquito around our ears until Zawinul derails the train into cosmic heights with his weird synths layers. The album’s highlight is the Zawinul-penned Orange Lady, starting out lazily under the noontime sun, and then simply roasting under the scorching zenith sun.

The flipside opens on the magical Morning Lake, with Zawinul’s Rhodes layering the track as to allow Vitous to soar with his bass, while Shorter’s sax is the cool breeze setting the mist apart to let the sunrays grace our ears. Waterfall, as you’d guess, is definitely more rapid than the Morning Lake, but obviously the cool Shorter breeze is not yet shaking the night’s torpor. Shorter was being short-changed in terms of songwriting credits up to now, but he gets to close the album with two tracks, first the again-slow (but brooding and menacing) Tears (astounding track with celestial voices) and the funkier Eurydice, which is much closer to conventional jazz than the Z-S duo had done in quite a while.

An impeccable album, but not likely suited for everyone as it is much slower than you’d expect a WR album, especially for those more familiar with the Pastorius days. Personally, I always preferred the Vitous-era as they were truly groundbreaking and along with its successor, this album is clearly their most progressive.

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