Eagle Eye Media
Release date: April 17th, 2007
Recorded July 8th, 1976 at Montreux Casino, Montreux, Switzerland as part of the Montreux Jazz Festival
Joe Zawinul (Fender Rhodes, keyboards, synthesizers, piano)
Wayne Shorter (tenor and soprano saxophones)
Jaco Pastorius (bass)
Alex Acuña (drums)
Manolo Badrena (percussion)
Elegant People; Scarlet Woman; Barbary Coast; Portrait of Tracy; Cannon Ball; Black Market; Drum and Percussion Duet (Rumba Mama); Piano and Saxophone Duet; Dr. Honoris Causa/Directions; Badia; Gibraltar
Weather Report are captured live at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1976 in this made for Swiss TV video recording. Sound and image quality (full stereo, full colour) is exemplary.
Jaco Pastorius had been in the bass slot just a few months but harnessing his great potential had already led to the replacement of drummer Chester Thompson with Alex Acuña (who had been playing percussion) and the introduction of Manolo Badrena (joining in the vacant percussion slot). As Joe Zawinul recalled: "As great a drummer as Chester was, he and Jaco didn't flow. Jaco was more of an upbeat player - more driving…… We had Alex Acuña move over to the drums and then Badrena came in. All of a sudden we had some smokin' stuff again."
Most of the material performed is from the "Black Market" album from earlier that year which had marked Jaco Pastorius' first recording in the band. Only "Scarlet Woman" (from "Mysterious Traveller"), "Badia (from "Tale Spinnin'") and the medley "Dr Honoris Causa / Directions" are from elsewhere - although there is a long and involving drum duet between Alex Acuña and Manolo Badrena that would appear again in shortened form as "Rumba Mama" on "Heavy Weather" and a riveting improvised piano/ soprano sax duet between Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter that is one of the highlights of the concert. Jaco Pastorius contributes an early version his bass solo "Portrait Of Tracy".
The full synergy and interplay between long term members (and band founders) Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter and the new dynamic introduced by Jaco Pastorius that emerged fully on "Heavy Weather" and "Night Passage" is a work in progress here but is nearing completion. Jaco Pastorious is so "unquestionably the Charlie Parker of electric bass", as Christian McBride has said. He has that effortless flow and mastery of his instrument that is given to the very few. You can sense the breath of fresh air that he is blowing through the Weather Report concept. This concert captures this, as it is happening.
Wayne Shorter's playing gives the lie to the claim that he had 'disappeared' as 'Mr Gone' under Joe Zawinul's dominating influence; his playing on these extended pieces is creative and inspiring, noting however that this is within the communal Weather Report ethos in which egoistical soloing is essentially alien. Wayne Shorter's almost minimalist patience and perception in music, still in evidence in his concerts today, should never be misconstrued as lack of involvement.
And of course, Joe Zawinul, perched behind his bank of keyboards, is nearing his creative peak, conducting the band with his eyes. What this concert shows is the importance of his Fender Rhodes playing, learned from the work with Miles Davis. Balanced against bass, drums and saxophone, it is one of the signature sounds of jazz, as is being rediscovered by so many musicians today.
Overall, a very fine documenting of one of the great bands in jazz approaching its peak. Essential viewing and listening.
Star Rating *****
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