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Weather Report – The Legendary Live Tapes: 1978-1981

December 11, 2015


This collection could have easily been titled Weather Report The Jaco Years. As much as Weather Report was the Joe and Wayne show, when Jaco Pastorius graced the band he was an equal voice.   I discovered Jaco via Joni Mitchell and Jaco delivered me to Weather Report’s Heavy Weather. So I am a little biased about Jaco’s prominence in the band.

I was pretty stoked when I saw this collection was coming out because, in addition to being a Jaco fan, this was the era I saw Weather Report live in a Minneapolis theater. I got a little nervous when I read this was mainly soundboard to cassette recordings – but my concern was in vain – the audio quality is 5-star.

Most of my experience with Weather Report is via their studio recordings – and they were very much a studio band. But as I learned that night 35 years ago, these cats are a great live band and this collection is the definitive evidence for posterity.

The collection sprawls four CDs. It is breathtaking. It pops out of the speakers in a way the studio albums never did. This is the band raw, yet they are tight. Wayne Shorter’s role was sometimes a bit too subtle on the studio albums. In these live cuts he shreds.

And then there is Jaco. This was the perfect band for Jaco. Zawinul and Shorter were jazz cats, but they had rock and roll hearts and sense of showmanship. They were the perfect mentors for the bass genius.

Zawinul is at times experimental and esoteric and then swinging. He is a soloist and a horn section. He is sound effects, but never gimmicky. He is the leader and the foundation of the sound. It is an absolute privilege to hear him do it live.

It is going to take me awhile for me to fully digest the four hours of this collection. But the early listens have engaged me. This is one great artifact of a world-class jazz band at the height of their powers. This is what I most love about jazz: sophisticated fun. There is a reason they call it playing music.  If you want a shortcut check out CD 4 “Black Market.”

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From → Music Reviews

4 Comments
  1. Great review! On the list. Almost a must huh?

    • Live they really pop

      • Yes . I think I mentioned to you I also seen them way back. Early/mid 70’s. An experience. Miroslav was the bassist, no slouch in his own right. You have set the hook with this review and heads up.

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