WEATHER REPORT — Weather Report (review)

WEATHER REPORT — Weather Report album cover Album · 1971 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
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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