Weather Report

Photo credit: Randee St. Nichols

Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter both made names for themselves playing with some of the top jazz artists of their time; Maynard Ferguson, Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, Art Blakey and many others. They met each other for the first time in 1959 while playing with Maynard Ferguson. Years later Weather Report was formed; a fusion type jazz group which would recruit many of music’s top jazz artists to participate throughout the years of its existences. Shorter and Zawinul are given credit for the group’s founding, although bass player, Miroslav Vitouš, claims that it was actually he and Shorter who initially founded the group, and Zawinul being brought in later by Shorter.

Over the Years Weather Report featured some of the greatest players in the world. They also produced some of the most cutting-edge jazz fusion ever created.  One of my favorite combinations of artists in the group included Shorter (Saxes), Zawinul (Keyboards), Jaco Pastorius (Bass), Alex Acuña (Drums & Percussion), and Manolo Badrena (Percussion); the album: Heavy Weather.

Heavy Weather (1977 release) was the first album of its kind I had ever heard. The songs seemed to soar like a bird. To this day when I listen to it I get the feeling of open space and a sensation of flight. It is my favorite album by Weather Report, and my favorite player on the album is Jaco Pastorius, the bass player. In high school, I wanted to be a bass player as well as a saxophone player. At the time all I knew about the bass is that it was the driving force at the bottom of most songs, especially in pop and R&B music. Jaco exposed me to a whole new concept of bass playing on this album, especially on the tune, Teen Town. The second cut on the album is a song called, A Remark You Made. It is one of the most beautiful ballads I have ever heard. And the opening song of the album is a well-known song called, Birdland. It has been performed by many groups over the years, including the a capella group, Manhattan Transfer. We even played a big band version of it in my high school jazz ensemble.

Below I have shared these tunes for you to hear. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Birdland

A Remark You Made

Teen Town

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