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What's the Forecast?
on 18 September 2012
'Proper' jazz fans seem to shun the 'fusion' style that Weather Report are masters of, maybe because it's a mongrel mix of jazz, rock and latin and other world influences, but hey, what is their loss is our gain!
To me, it's more an orchestra of jazz, WR evoking many moods and ethnic influences - you often feel that you are under the Moroccan stars at times, chillingly relaxed at others and then bombarded by heavy and funky bass and percussion at others. If you like Santana, you may well enjoy WR, too, as there's a certain cross-over in what they do, but please do not think that they sound the same!
I had a few old WR LP albums that don't get played any more, plus a couple of CDs that are updates of my favourites. Aware that there's the other Original Album Classic set available, it basically came down to a choice between the two 5 CD sets.
MYSTERIOUS TRAVELLER had to be in, as it was an LP and a real favourite of mine and I wanted to play it again, properly, with such gorgeously well-played tracks such as Nubian Sundance, the title track and Scarlet Woman, this was Zawinul, Shorter, Johnson, Um Romao, Wilburn and Vitous on a more dark musical journey, with more deep, sophisticated melodies and as always their exemplary playing.
SING THE BODY ELECTRIC was unknown to me and though I've played it once, it didn't come across as one I liked as much as the others.
SWEETNIGHTER was also unknown to me but the opening track (Boogie Woogie Waltz) has that great spatial build up of rhythms and percussions of the best WR, the sax, keyboards and bass all sparring off each other, darting about like swifts at sunset.
BLACK MARKET was an eagerly anticipated addition, the title track so beautifully and evotically opening one of my all-time favourite live albums, WR's 8:30. That version's probably longer (& better) as they've fleshed it out and improved it over the years but it's still great stuff as the original. The (admittedly small) CD sleeve with the original album artwork shows a painting of a lively African market scene that very aptly sets the musical scene for us.
NIGHT PASSAGE is also a previously unknown and again, isn't one of my favourites, here. It just doesn't hit the dizzying heights of Mysterious Traveller or Black Market, or the more I listen to it, Sweetnighter, which is fast growing on me.
True, I've only touched on maybe a few tracks from each but time is often our enemy in enjoying all this great music and to do it justice, following the nuances and patterns created by the music. I'm glad I got this set, its price meant I could get five full albums for the price of two secondhand ones but also expanding both my library and jazz repertoire at the same time.
So, if you're a bit into Weather Report and want to expand, you can't do it cheaper and that way, if an album or two isn't as great as the others, you've haven't lost out so much plus the space taken up is about the width of less than two jewelled-case CDs, meaning less clutter.