Weather Report: Forecast: Tomorrow (Columbia/Legacy)

This box set is the holy grail of lost treasures.

 

dvd_weatherreportFor those of you who know the legacy of the legendary Weather Report, this is an epic moment in history. This box set is the holy grail of lost treasures: a two-hour DVD live concert from '78 with the late great Jaco Pastorius on bass. It also includes a three-disc set of CDs spanning the entire formation and evolution of the band and the music. For you, enough said.

For those of you who do not know the band, this is a chance to broaden your horizons. Even if you are familiar with Jaco as a bass player or know the song "Birdland," you need to get this set in order to get the full picture of greatness that their music represents.

This is not a greatest hits collection; it is an overview of one of the most innovative jazz fusion groups of the last four decades. Their use of expanded harmonies and interplay between the virtuoso soloists and the ensemble formed their trademark sound that continued to evolve with the times and the lineup. This is perfectly summed up by Hal Miller in the extensive liner notes, "In surveying the entirety of the Weather Report recording saga, this box set not only further emphasizes the brilliance of co-leaders Zawinul and Shorter as composers and improvisers, but also provides ample evidence of the excellence of the musicians they chose to work with over their nearly 16-year run. In addition, this set is a cogent reminder of just how remarkable early weather report was, while at the same time, it lays to rest the myth that the last edition of this band (1982-1986) was little more than a postscript to the Jaco Pastorius years. When one considers the entire body of work of this band—both recorded and live—there can be little doubt that some of the finest and most distinctive music of 20th-century America was produced by Weather Report."

The first disc opens with three rare gems from before the formation of the group by keyboardist Joe Zawinul and saxophonist Wayne Shorter. It starts with a beautiful recording of them with Miles along with Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock, both also on keys, followed by a burning bop tune with John McLaughlin on guitar and an over-the-top improvisation piece with Cannonball Adderley. To look a the synergy of ideas and inspiration they generated, McLaughlin later went on to form the fusion group, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, while Chick Corea formed Return to Forever with Stanley Clarke and Al Di Meola. Jaco had studied at University of Miami where he was classmates with the likes of Pat Metheny, Hiram Bullock, and Steve Morse, founder of the Dixie Dregs. To me it is important to look at all of these spheres of influence when trying to understand that exploratory era that resulted in the evolution of electric jazz/rock/classical/Latin/funk fusion.

Included are also some previously unreleased tracks along with some of my favorite classics like "Palladium," "Havona," and "Black Market." The DVD is a great insight into what you might have experienced from a Weather Report concert. They have an unrelenting energy displaying virtuosic mastery for over two hours straight!

I didn't discover Weather Report until 1988 when I was exposed to them at Berklee; of course it was the year after Jaco was beat to death by a bouncer in Fla., so no chance of seeing a live performance. I've spent time on the 'net scouring for any video snippet of Jaco I could get my hands on, before that it was looking for vinyl copies of Weather Report in used record stores, and I somewhere I have numerous unlabeled and incomplete copies on cassette. When the remasters of Heavy Weather and Black Market were finally released on CD, I had to snag them right away. To have a collection like this in one place is just amazing, and the box set contains an overwhelming amount of music that is a testament to the legacy of Weather Report.

RIYL: Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, (keys), Miles, Sanborn, Michael Brecker (horns), Jaco, Victor Wooten, Stanley Clarke (bass), or any funk jam band (e.g., Phish, etc.)

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