Saturday, November 21, 2015

CD Review: Legacy Recordings Boxes Up "Legendary Live Tapes" From Weather Report

American jazz fusion band Weather Report are considered by many to be one of the founding fathers of the genre. Started by fellow musicians Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter, both from Miles Davis' band, the two decided they wanted to add more layers to their jazz sound by incorporating elements of rock, funk, R&B and Latin rhythms into their music. Weather Report would last for 16 years, releasing 13 studio albums and 3 live album during their time together. They were always a great live band as their music expanded past the  barriers of jazz while on stage.

On November 20th, Legacy Recordings dug through the vaults to release "Weather Report: The Legendary Live Tapes 1978-1981." This period is considered by many to be their best, as it featured the classic line-up of Zawinul, Shorter, Jaco Pastorius, Peter Erskine and Robert Thomas Jr. This line-up also produced their crossover hit single, "Birdland" in 1977. The new 4-disc set jumps around a bit, with the first disc mainly focusing on their 1980 tour of Japan with a couple tracks from the Hammersmith Odeon and Eastman Theater in New York. The set begins with the chaotic masterpiece "Sightseeing" and the gentler touch of "Forlorn" and "Three Views Of a Secret." It also contains solo pieces by Wayne Shorter on sax and Jaco Pastorious on bass.

The wonderful piano work of Joe Zawinul begins the second disc with "Joe And Wayne Duet," before continuing into the well-known "Birdland." The second disc focuses on their 1978 tour as they stretch their legs with the twelve-minute, slow-build up of the funky "Continuum/River People" and the twenty-one minute jazz/rock jam of "Gibraltar." Disc three fast forwards to mainly focusing on a specific show from November 1980 at the Hammersmith Odeon. This disc, and show, were highlighted by the rhythm heavy "Madagascar" and the up-tempo run of "Night Passage." The twelve-minute "Port Of Entry" showcases the band working together in a free-form live setting as they feel their way through the song. The fourth disc centers around their 1978 tour of Japan, beginning with the Wayne Shorter original "Elegant People," which captures that seventies sound. The keyboard work of Zawinul is exceptional in "Scarlet Women" and "Black Market." After a short drum solo from Peter Erskine, the disc closes with the exciting, exploratory jazz of "Directions."

The set features 28 songs in all, with no repeats, which equals to over four hours of great jazz fusion from one of the most legendary bands in the genre. To find out more about "Weather Report: The Legendary Live Tapes: 1978-1981," please visit

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