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Weather Report 1971

Another recent find. Just so you know how weird I am. It is called “1.”

These are the earliest members of Weather Report (long before Jaco) and in some respects it will always be my favorite incarnation. Joe Zawinul (keyboards), Wayne Shorter (sax), Miroslav Vitous (bass), Alphonse Mouzon (drums, vocal), Dom Um Romeo (percussion). Their concept was to get past the standard jazz thing where you play the melody, then everyone take turns doing solos, then you play the melody again. Instead, their idea was for everyone to improvise freely but attentively all the way through, around some core compositional structures. But it was not like the (to me) unpleasant cacophony of “free jazz.” They had a solid enough beat going and enough comprehensible texture and shifting moods to make it listenable and interesting.

Segments here are recognizable as cuts on their first album, which is just called Weather Report) (also from 1971). The album is a whole lot tighter and they obviously selected much better takes, but this is enjoyable for the sake of watching them play the same stuff, when I know the album so well by sound only. Some of the most boring stuff here comes in the middle, when Miroslav picks up his bow, and some of the best stuff comes after about 14:20, when he puts it away. (Bowed double bass in jazz almost never works for me, unless it used for drone texture. I hope dblbasscleff doesn’t denounce me for saying that!)

But this is what the much tighter album sounds like (the track is “Seventh Arrow”). You’ll think I’m strange, but to me this is a fantastic piece of music:

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