Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Weather Report

Weather Report (group; formed 1970)
Wayne Shorter (sax)
Joe Zawinul (keys)
Jaco Pastorius (bass)
Miroslav Vitous (bass)
Alphonse Mouzon (drums)
Peter Erskine (drums)
Omar Hakim (drums)
Jose Rossy (percussion)
Airto Moreira (percussion)

I'm a big fan of boxed sets, especially when there done right. I don't normally recommend them to friends who don't know much about the artist/genre either. But in the case of Weather Report and the boxed set, Forecast Tomorrow (Columbia/Legacy Recordings), I think shelling out the extra bucks is probably a good idea. Let me also say there is a decent single disc collection entitled The Best Of Weather Report (Columbia/Legacy Recordings) which is fine (to a point) and would serve some people well. But I'm going to stick to the Weather Report boxed set as my choice for today.

Weather Report were the quintessential fusion band. The brain-child of two Miles Davis alums, Wayne Shorter (sax) and Joe Zawinul (keyboard/piano), Weather Report was an ever expanding and revolving group of creative individuals with the two aforementioned as the focal point. The boxed set opens with tunes that both members wrote for Miles during the Bitches Brew recordings and later recorded on their own albums.

Weather Report were one of the few bands during the '70s that consistently produced high quality albums from beginning to end. Their combination of jazz, rock, funk and latin rhythms was a major influence on almost every jazz artists of the 70's and 80's. Bold statement yes but I will stand by it. In the same way Kraftwerk, Can and Yellow Magic Orchestra influenced hundreds of alternative/electronic artists, Weather Report and it's individual members (Jaco Pastorious, Peter Erksine, Miroslav Vitous, Airto Moreia, Alphonse Mouzon) loomed large throughout the jazz community.

The band recorded 16 albums between 1971 - 985 and the most important and influential of those recordings are available on the Weather Report boxed set, Forecast Tomorrow. Forecast Tomorrow includes the classic "Birdland," "125th Street Congress," "Black Market," and "The Orphan"--all of which explore the group unique magnetism and ever expanding ideas in world music. Topping things off for me the boxed set features a Live DVD of the original group which is totally worth any amount of money spent on this set. Weather Report were also one of the few jazz ensembles to consistently have "hits" and solid albums throughout their long run in addition to expanding their musical scope and audiences year after year.

Weather Report would fold shorter after Wayne Shorter's departure in '85 and Joe Zawinul took over for the short remained of the year and then the band members went on to have formidable careers of their own. The music on Forecast Tomorrow is not by any means dated. The perception of fusion is sometimes misleading and with Weather Report you will almost immediately connect with the music upon first listen. Forecast Tomorrow is definitely the set to get if you want the full overview of the group and you should definitely get it your full attention. I have loved this set for years and I can't stop recommending it to as many people as humanly possible. I hope you enjoy it.