Studio Albums

 

Weather Report 1971 Weather Report (1971)

Originally released in May 1971, Weather Report was the debut album by the group of the same name. The album was reissued by Columbia Records in 1992. The album was digitally remastered by Vic Anesini in November 1991 at Sony Music Studios in New York City, and then released again under the Sony International label. The style of music on this album can be described as avant-garde jazz with electric instruments. It continues the style of Miles Davis album Bitches Brew (on which Zawinul and Shorter played) but in a more ambient setting.

 

 

 

i-sing-the-body-electricI Sing The Body Electric (1972)

Sing the Body Electric is the second album released by Weather Report from 1972. The album includes two new members of the band: percussionist Dom Um Romão and drummer Eric Gravatt. The last three tracks were recorded live in concert in Tokyo, Japan on January 13, 1972. These tracks have been edited for this album and can be heard in their entirety on Weather Report’s 1972 import album Live in Tokyo.

The album takes its title from an 1855 poem by Walt Whitman, also a 1969 short story by Ray Bradbury.

 

 

 

sweetnighterSweetNighter (1973)

Sweetnighter is Weather Report’s fourth album, released on Columbia Records in 1973. The group had recorded the songs in a five day stretch during February of the same year. It was to be the last album to feature founding member Miroslav Vitouš as the primary bassist. It is considered to be the most stylistically transitional release by the band as it bridged the gap between the more open, improvisational earlier style to a more compositionally structured format. Also, the more prominent use of electric bass is evident here.

 

 

 

mysterious-travellerMysterious Traveller (1974)

Mysterious Traveller is the fifth album of Weather Report released in 1974. This album marked the end of bassist Miroslav Vitouš’s tenure with the band. Vitouš was replaced by Alphonso Johnson. Another addition to the line-up is drummer Ishmael Wilburn. Greg Errico was the drummer for the tour between the previously released Sweetnighter and this album, but declined an invitation to be a permanent member of the band. The record is generally considered to be the band’s first that predominantly uses electric bass and incorporates liberal uses of funk, R&B grooves, and rock that would later be hallmarked as the band’s “signature” sound. Also, the more restricted compositional format became evident on this album, replacing the more “open improvisation” formats used on the first 3 albums. It was voted as the album of the year by the readers of Down Beat for 1974, garnering their 2nd overall win in that category. Some consider this to be the band’s best overall compositional effort.

 

 

tale-spinninTale Spinnin (1975)

Tale Spinnin’ is the sixth album by Weather Report, recorded and released in 1975, featuring the addition of Leon “Ndugu” Chancler on the drums. Ndugu was recruited after Zawinul heard him play with Carlos Santana and liked what he heard. Weather Report was recording next door to Ndugu in the studio. He was asked to join them for a recording session. That session ended up lasting a week and produced Tale Spinnin’. After the record, Ndugu was asked to join the band as a permanent member, but declined in favor of continuing to work with Carlos Santana.

 

 

 

black-marketBlack Market (1976)

This is Weather Report’s seventh overall album and the first with the bass player Jaco Pastorius who features on two tracks. The album draws heavily from African influences and its style could be described as “world fusion”. The second song, “Cannon Ball” is tribute to Zawinul’s then recently deceased former band leader, saxophonist Julian “Cannonball” Adderley.

 

 

 

 

heavy-weatherHeavy Weather (1977)

Heavy Weather is the eighth album by Weather Report, released in 1977 through Columbia Records. The release originally sold about a half million copies which would prove to be the band’s most commercially successful album. Some consider it to be Weather Report’s best album artistically as well. Heavy Weather received an initial 5 star review from Down Beat magazine and went on to easily win jazz album of the year by the readers of that publication. It is the band’s second album with bassist Jaco Pastorius.  Featuring the jazz standard “Birdland”, the album is one of the best-sellers in the Columbia jazz catalog. Heavy Weather is considered a landmark album in the jazz-rock or fusion movement of the 1970s. Its opening track, “Birdland”, was a significant commercial success, something not typical of instrumental music.  A striking feature of Birdland is Pastorius picking harmonics on his fretless bass.

 

 

mr-goneMr. Gone (1978)

Mr. Gone is the ninth album by Weather Report’s recorded and released in 1978, and is perhaps best known for receiving a “one-star” rating by Down Beat magazine.  According to Down Beat magazine, “Zawinul, Shorter, et al. have made the controversial music a commercial product; unfortunately … Weather Report has over-orchestrated its sound.” The album was quickly certified Gold, being the follow-up to the widely successful Heavy Weather and topped out at #52 on the Billboard music charts.

 

 

 

night-passageNight Passage (1980)

Night Passage is the eleventh album by Weather Report, released in 1980. The tracks were recorded in August 1980 at The Complex studios in Los Angeles (before a crowd of 250 people which can be heard on a couple of tracks),except for “Madagascar”, recorded live in Osaka, in June of the same year. The album brings about a new member to the band, percussionist Robert Thomas Jr. Night Passage loses the over-done production layers of some of Weather Report’s earlier releases (most notably 1978’s Mr. Gone). What is lost in layers of overdubs is made up in solo improvisation in the classic jazz tradition.

 

 

 

weather-report-1982Weather Report (1981)

Weather Report (1982) is the twelvth album from the jazz group Weather Report. The band’s first album is also self-titled, causing confusion among consumers and retailers upon its release. It is the final album featuring Jaco Pastorius and Peter Erskine in the rhythm section, bringing to an end what many fans considered the best lineup in the band’s history.  The center piece of the album is the three part “N.Y.C.” The three movement suite starts with 41st Parallel, a bouncing groove showing off Erskine’s unique touch on the drums. The second movement, The Dance, is a more traditional swing feel, but with Zawinul’s synthesiser orchestration heavily laid on top. The final movement, Crazy About Jazz, is a cordial ending that fits its name in every way.

 

 

processionProcession (1983)

Procession is the thirteenth studio album from Weather Report. It is the first album to feature the newest lineup of Weather Report. Victor Bailey replaced Jaco Pastorius as the bassist and Omar Hakim is credited with finding Bailey and percussionist José Rossy, they were all signed with Weather Report before Zawinul or Shorter even met them.  This is one of the band’s finest albums according to many fans and critics.

 

 

 

 

domino-theoryDomino Theory (1984)

Domino Theory is the fourteenth studio album by Weather Report. It is the second album to feature the Hakim-Bailey-Rossy rhythm section.

 

 

 

 

sportin-lifeSportin Life (1985)

Sportin’ Life is the fifteenth studio album by Weather Report, released in 1985. Although featuring many more vocal performances than any of their previous albums, words are rare and most vocals are chants from Bobby McFerrin or Carl Anderson.

 

 

 

 

this-is-thisThis Is This! (1986)

This Is This! is the sixteenth and final studio album by Weather Report. The band thought that it had fulfilled its contract with Columbia Records through the release of the previous album, Sportin’ Life. This, however, was not the case, and the band had to release one more record.

 

 

 

 

Live Albums

liveintokyoLive In Tokyo (1972)

Live in Tokyo is the third release (and first live album) by Weather Report. It was recorded on January 13, 1972. It was one of five sold-out concerts played in Japan during January 1972. I Sing the Body Electric contained several tracks that were edited for the studio album, but can be heard as they were performed, in their entirety, on this live album.

 

 

 

 

8308:30 (1979)

8:30 is the tenth and first live album by the jazz fusion group Weather Report. It was recorded live except for tracks 10-13, which were studio recorded. Among other titles, it features a live version of the group’s signature piece “Birdland”. The album won a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Fusion Performance.  The album takes its name from the band’s habit of starting their performance at 8:30 pm. At the time of the tour, the band were a four piece who would take the stage continuously for around two and a half hours, each of the members taking a solo spot to give not just a virtuoso performance, but to give the others a break. Wayne Shorter sometimes plays percussion instead of saxophone on stage, and on one of the studio tracks, the calypso inspired “Brown Street”, Joe Zawinul’s son Erich plays percussion along with Erskine and Pastorius. The 8:30 tour saw Weather Report at the height of their commercial success, and the playlist leant heavily on the recent successes, “Black Market”, “Birdland” and “Teen Town”.  Jaco Pastorius played a notable solo, “Slang”, which melded a multi-part bass solo using tape loops, leading into references to “Third Stone from the Sun” by Jimi Hendrix, “Portrait of Tracy” from his own solo work, then onto “(The Hills are Alive with) The Sound of Music”. He finished off playing his bass with its own strap.

 

liveandunreleasedLive and Unreleased (2002)

Live and Unreleased is a compilation of live recordings of Weather Report. The tracks are taken from live performances that took place from November 25, 1975 to June 3, 1983. Since its skill at live improvisation made up a large part of the band’s appeal, its perhaps surprising that this is only their third official live recording (the previous two were 1972’s Live in Tokyo and 1979’s 8:30). Although this collection gives a very good representation of the breadth of the band’s performances over a considerable period of time, the sequencing of the tracks can be confusing for the listener, since there is usually little or no relationship between one track (and its associated date, venue and band line-up) and the next.

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