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Jazz - Released March 1, 1977 | Columbia - Legacy

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released November 20, 2015 | Columbia - Legacy

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These four discs offer completely unreleased performances by the Weather Report lineup of keyboardist Joe Zawinul, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, bassist Jaco Pastorius, drummer Peter Erskine, and a bit later, percussionist Bobby Thomas, Jr. It was compiled for release by Erskine (whose historical essay and annotated track notes are fantastic) and Tony Zawinul, Joe's son. These are mostly soundboard cassettes made by WR's longtime live sound engineer Brian Risner, with choice audience tapes and commercial mobile rig selections mixed in. While it (mostly) sounds like an excellent bootleg, the sound here is remarkable given the root sources. Similar to 2002's Live and Unreleased, the material is not arranged chronologically. Disc one begins with the quintet in 1980/1981; disc four is from the quartet in 1978, and it skips around in between. The sequencing is peculiar to Erskine's and Zawinul's personal notions about what best constituted raw evidence of the band's collective ability on any given night of a tour -- warts and all. (An example is the inclusion of an abrupt, incomplete "Jaco's Solo" on disc one. It's here as a metaphor for the bassist's mercurial personality and the gap his absence leaves, but it's too much of a quirk for most listeners. (Thankfully, there is a full, more inspired version on disc four from 1978.) But the many highlights offset these moments. On disc one, "Brown Street" is taken from a rehearsal vastly overdubbed later for 8:30; the root version is revelatory. The scorching medley of "Badia/Boogie Woogie Waltz" is fiery and intense -- tape collectors feel free to compare. Shorter's brief quote from "What's Goin' On" in "The Orphan" reveals how much R&B was part of his playing during this period, and his seven-plus-minute solo spot is magnificent. Disc two offers a gorgeous medley of Pastorius' "Continuum"/"River People" -- played in his hometown of Philly -- and is followed by a 21-minute, newly discovered "Gibraltar" from Erskine's second gig with WR. Disc three by the quintet is from 1980-1981 and contains excellent performances of "Madagascar," followed by a hard-grooving "Night Passage." (The latter tune was eventually dropped from public performance.) These tracks -- plus two more -- are from proper mobile recording equipment and as such they stand out. A spacy bebop reading of Duke Ellington's "Rockin' in Rhythm" precedes a ragged "Port of Entry" -- the only known version recorded by the quartet (just prior to Thomas' joining). The final disc offers long, kinetic versions of "Elegant People," "Scarlet Woman," and "Black Market," as well as a raucous "Teen Town" and a spacy, dubby version of "Directions." While The Legendary Live Tapes, 1978-81 is a glimpse of the complex, multifaceted -- and controversial -- persona that was WR, it is a long and fruitful one. It showcases the band at their jazz-funk best with improvisational and collective intuitive chops usually on stun. Hopefully there is more where this came from. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 17, 1976 | Columbia - Legacy

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Jazz - Released April 17, 1978 | Columbia - Legacy

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Jazz - Released April 17, 1979 | Columbia - Legacy

Weather Report is generally regarded as the greatest jazz fusion band of all time, with the biggest jazz hit ("Birdland") from the best jazz fusion album (1977's Heavy Weather). But the group's studio mastery sometimes overshadows the fact that it was also a live juggernaut -- so don't overlook the outstanding live and studio album from 1979, 8:30. This was a rare quartet version of Weather Report, with co-leaders in keyboardist Joe Zawinul and saxophonist Wayne Shorter. The bassist was the inimitable Jaco Pastorius, the drummer a young Peter Erskine. Pastorius is otherworldly on early gems like "Black Market," the breakneck "Teen Town," and his solo showcase, "Slang" (in which he quotes Jimi Hendrix's "Third Stone from the Sun"). Shorter is most involved on the CD's slower pieces like "A Remark You Made," "In a Silent Way," and his own solo piece, "Thanks for the Memory"; Zawinul and Erskine shine on the swinging version of "Birdland" and roller coaster ride of the "Badia/Boogie Woogie Waltz" medley. Four studio tracks (composing what was side four of the original album version) close 8:30 with a flourish -- and some surprises. Pastorius duets on drums with Zawinul on the brief title track, then plays double drums with Erskine (as Erich Zawinul plays percussion) on the playful "Brown Street." Zawinul then throws a curve with "The Orphan," dueting with Shorter as ten members of the West Los Angeles Christian Academy Children's Choir chant harmonies. The saxophonist gets in the last word, though, with his burning composition "Sightseeing" -- on which he plays unison lines with Zawinul over Pastorius' rare walking bassline and Erskine's most aggressive drumming. A future jazz standard ending one of this band's standard-setting CDs. © Bill Meredith /TiVo
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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released July 23, 1991 | Legacy - Columbia

Here we have the free-floating, abstract beginnings of Weather Report, which would define the state of the electronic jazz/rock art from its first note almost to its last. Their first album is a direct extension of the Miles Davis In a Silent Way/Bitches Brew period, more fluid in sound and more volatile in interplay. Joe Zawinul ruminates in a delicate, liquid manner on Rhodes electric piano; at this early stage, he used a ring modulator to create weird synthesizer-like effects. Wayne Shorter's soprano sax shines like a beacon amidst the swirling ensemble work of co-founding bassist Miroslav Vitous, percussionist Airto Moreira, and drummer Alphonse Mouzon. Zawinul's most memorable theme is "Orange Lady" (previously recorded, though uncredited, by Davis on Big Fun), while Shorter scores on "Tears" and "Eurydice." One of the most impressive debuts of all time by a jazz group. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released March 1, 1977 | Columbia - Legacy

Weather Report's biggest-selling album is that ideal thing, a popular and artistic success -- and for the same reasons. For one thing, Joe Zawinul revealed an unexpectedly potent commercial streak for the first time since his Cannonball Adderley days, contributing what has become a perennial hit, "Birdland." Indeed, "Birdland" is a remarkable bit of record-making, a unified, ever-developing piece of music that evokes, without in any way imitating, a joyous evening on 52nd St. with a big band. The other factor is the full emergence of Jaco Pastorius as a co-leader; his dancing, staccato bass lifting itself out of the bass range as a third melodic voice, completely dominating his own ingenious "Teen Town" (where he also plays drums!). By now, Zawinul has become WR's de facto commander in the studio; his colorful synthesizers dictate the textures, his conceptions are carefully planned, with little of the freewheeling improvisation of only five years before. Wayne Shorter's saxophones are now reticent, if always eloquent, beams of light in Zawinul's general scheme while Alex Acuña shifts ably over to the drums and Manolo Badrena handles the percussion. Released just as the jazz-rock movement began to run out of steam, this landmark album proved that there was plenty of creative life left in the idiom. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released March 26, 1991 | Columbia - Legacy

Weather Report's fourth recording finds Wayne Shorter (on soprano and tenor) taking a lesser role as Joe Zawinul begins to really dominate the group's sound. Most selections also include bassist Alphonso Johnson and drummer Ishmael Wilburn although the personnel shifts from track to track. "Nubian Sundance" adds several vocalists while "Blackthorn Rose" is a Shorter-Zawinul duet. Overall the music is pretty stimulating and sometimes adventurous; high-quality fusion from 1974. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released February 19, 1983 | Columbia

A new Weather Report lineup makes its debut here, with Victor Bailey filling Jaco Pastorius' shoes, Omar Hakim on drums, Jose Rossy on percussion, and Joe Zawinul now thoroughly in charge. But contrary to the conventional wisdom which claims that WR went downhill after the departure of Pastorius/Erskine, the new lineup actually recharged WR's creative batteries; the material here is superior to that of the previous two albums at least. Bailey, while not Jaco's technical equal, is mobile enough to project through the texture, and Hakim has the versatility and swinging Third World rhythmic influences that must have appealed to Zawinul. "Procession" itself is a masterly Zawinul tone poem, with moody electronics and voices building to an emotional crescendo and ebbing away, a high point in WR's output. Even Wayne Shorter's sole composition "Plaza Real" is the most interesting tune he had come up with in a long time. The Manhattan Transfer, the champions of "Birdland," make a fascinating electronically distorted appearance on Zawinul's marvelous "Where the Moon Goes." This is an unjustly overlooked Weather Report treasure, hopefully due for CD reissue soon. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released June 25, 1985 | Columbia

With de facto leader Joe Zawinul now even more set on a world music groove-oriented direction than ever, it is hard to place Weather Report even within the broad electric jazz -- or fusion, if you must -- category at this point. But forget labels; this is another superb WR album where the grooves percolate and thump along in an irresistible surge, rhythmic elements pouring in from the Caribbean, Africa, Middle East and the instrument designers at Yamaha, Korg, etc. There are more vocals than ever, mostly wordless chant by guests Carl Anderson, Bobby McFerrin and others, and there is a total departure in the form of an attractive folk-like song sung and played by the new percussionist/guitarist Mino Cinelu. Almost alone among synthesizer players, Zawinul took the trouble to learn how to swing on these instruments, and by Sportin' Life, he had become unstoppable. And Wayne Shorter? His beams of light are still around, as heard most hauntingly in a duet with Zawinul's synths on "The Face on the Barroom Floor." Yet Wayne's presence is just another color in Zawinul's multi-band palette, and as a result, their long partnership was coming to a close despite the still sky-high quality of their music. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 17, 1982 | Columbia - Legacy

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Jazz - Released April 17, 1979 | Columbia - Legacy

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Jazz - Released May 8, 2020 | Angel Air

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Jazz - Released September 3, 2013 | Columbia - Legacy

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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released August 27, 1996 | Columbia - Legacy

Right from the start, a vastly different Weather Report emerges here, one that reflects co-leader Joe Zawinul's developing obsession with the groove. It is the groove that rules this mesmerizing album, leading off with the irresistible 3/4 marathon deceptively tagged as the "Boogie Woogie Waltz" and proceeding through a variety of Latin-grounded hip-shakers. It is a record of discovery for Zawinul, who augments his Rhodes electric piano with a funky wah-wah pedal, unveils the ARP synthesizer as a melodic instrument and sound-effects device, and often coasts along on one chord. The once fiery Wayne Shorter has been tamed, for he now contributes mostly sustained ethereal tunes on soprano sax, his tone sometimes doubled for a pleasing octave effect. The wane of freewheeling ensemble interplay is more than offset by the big increase in rhythmic push; bassist Miroslav Vitous, drummer Eric Gravatt, and percussionist Dom Um Romao are now cogs in one of jazz's great swinging machines. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released May 22, 1990 | Columbia - Legacy

Like the weather itself, this band would assume a new shape with virtually every release -- and this album, half recorded in the studio and half live in Tokyo, set the pattern of change. Exit Airto Moreira and Alphonse Mouzon; enter percussionist Dom Um Romao, drummer Eric Gravatt, and a slew of cameo guests like guitarist Ralph Towner, flutist Hubert Laws, and others. The studio tracks are more biting, more ethnically diverse in influence, and more laden with electronic effects and grandiose structural complexities than before. The live material (heard in full on the import Live in Tokyo) is even fiercer and showcases for the first time some of the tremendous drive WR was capable of, though it doesn't give you much of an idea of its stream of consciousness nature. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released August 19, 1986 | Columbia

The shifts in Weather Report's personnel come fast and furious now, with Narada Michael Walden and Chester Thompson as the drummers, Alex Acuna and Don Alias at the percussion table, and Alphonso Johnson giving way to the mighty, martyred Jaco Pastorius. It is interesting to hear Pastorius expanding the bass role only incrementally over what the more funk-oriented Johnson was doing at this early point -- that is, until "Barbary Coast," where suddenly Jaco leaps athletically forward into the spotlight. Joe Zawinul or just Zawinul, as he preferred to be billed -- contributed all of side one's compositions, mostly Third World-flavored workouts except for "Cannon Ball," a touching tribute to his ex-boss Cannonball Adderley (who had died the year before). Shorter, Pastorius, and Johnson split the remainder of the tracks, with Shorter now set in a long-limbed compositional mode for electric bands that would serve him into the 1990s. While it goes without saying that most Weather Report albums are transition albums, this diverse record is even more transient than most, paving the way for WR's most popular period while retaining the old sense of adventure. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released April 19, 1984 | Sony Music Media

Here's more proof that Weather Report actually became a more potent, life-affirming musical force after the departures of its best-known sidemen. Things begin on an oddly commercial note with a pop song "Can It Be Done," sung by Carl Anderson, that actually lays out Weather Report's credo, searching for sounds never heard before. Then Joe Zawinul and company get down to business with the funky "D-Flat Waltz," marked by Omar Hakim's flamboyantly complex drumming. Zawinul's synthesizer textures become thicker and more flexible with the help of newly-introduced digital instruments, and the funk element in general becomes more pronounced than on any record since Tale Spinnin'. Victor Bailey (bass), who spins his wheels on the title track, and Jose Rossy (percussion) remain on board (though Rossy left shortly thereafter) and Wayne Shorter's tenor sax has a rawer, tougher edge than it has in awhile. Though not quite as triumphant as Procession, a triumph nonetheless. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released August 26, 1986 | Columbia

Or shall we say, that is that, the final album by a group called Weather Report, now captained and guided by Josef Zawinul. The photo of Zawinul and Wayne Shorter shaking hands on the back cover of the LP is definitely a farewell gesture, for Shorter turns up on only three of the eight cuts (having left the band while this record was being made), and the record's world-music slant gives it a closer kinship with Zawinul's subsequent albums than with WR's earlier output. Already on the delicate "I'll Never Forget You," Zawinul's synthesizer is replacing Wayne as a simulated solo wind voice. Minu Cinelu is on percussion on vocals, Victor Bailey on bass, and co-producer Peter Erskine returns for one final fling on drums (Omar Hakim handles the sticks on "Consequently"). The best thing on the album is the joyous title track, which swaggers along with the help of guest guitarist Carlos Santana's flashy rock obligatos. Santana also takes the lead on "Man With the Copper Fingers," another preview of textures to come in Zawinul's future bands. A somewhat diffuse passage of transition, This Is This is the weakest link in the impressive string of WR albums (Zawinul's prime material from this period can be found on his solo album Dialects, released only four months before this one). © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released July 26, 1994 | Columbia - Legacy

Weather Report's ever-changing lineup shifts again, with the somewhat heavier funk-oriented Leon "Ndugu" Chancler dropping into the drummer's chair and Alyrio Lima taking over the percussion table. As a result, Tale Spinnin' has a weightier feel than Mysterious Traveller, while continuing the latter's explorations in Latin-spiced electric jazz/funk. Zawinul's pioneering interest in what we now call world music is more in evidence with the African percussion, wordless vocals, and sandy sound effects of "Badia," and his synthesizer sophistication is growing along with the available technology. Wayne Shorter's work on soprano sax is more animated than on the previous two albums and Alphonso Johnson puts his melodic bass more to the fore. While not quite as inventive as its two predecessors, this remains an absorbing extension of WR's mid-'70s direction. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo