Weather Report was founded in 1970 by musicians who had met while playing with Miles Davis. This Montreux Festival show from 1976 follows on from the release of their album "Black Market" but features the line-up that would release their most famous and successful album "Heavy Weather" in 1977. This line-up features Joe Zawinul (keyboards), Wayne Shorter (saxophones), Jaco Pastorius (bass), Alex Acuna (drums) and Manolo Badrena (percussion). Previously only available as a bootleg of a TV broadcast, this new DVD release is fully authorized and has been restored to its full length.
Tracklisting 1) Elegant people 2) Scarlet Woman 3) Barbary Coast 4) Portrait of Tracy(bassolo) 5) Cannonball 6) Black market 7) Drum & Percussion Duet 8) Piano & Saxophone Duet 9) Dr Honoris Causa/Directions 10) Badia/Gibraltar
The chance to witness world class musicians and a great band at a vital point in its evolution is the appeal of Weather Report: Live at Montreux Jazz Festival 1976
. Joe Zawinul (keyboards) and Wayne Shorter (saxophones), co-founders of the enterprise that many would call the greatest jazz-fusion group ever, had recently been joined by a player of almost equal stature: Jaco Pastorius, who at age 24 was busy re-defining the fretless electric bass for generations to come. Pastorius had played on some of Black Market
, the most recent Weather Report recording, but he'd only been touring with them for three months when they appeared at the Montreux event; though not yet fully integrated, his playing here frequently backs up his self-description as "the greatest bass player in the world," not only on Black Market
material like Shorter's "Elegant People" and Zawinul's "Cannon Ball" and title song (two of his most melodic and enduring tunes) but on earlier items like "Badia" and "Scarlet Woman" as well. With Manolo Badrena on percussion and the explosive Alex Acuna on drums, this was the quintet that would go on to release the landmark Heavy Weather
album a year later (you can hear Zawinul noodling on the melody that would become "Birdland," their breakout hit, during "Dr. Honoris Causa"). This gig, which clocks in at slightly under 90 minutes, is smoking from start to finish. The band expands on (and, in the case of "Black Market," slightly speeds up) the recorded versions; as always, the balance of composition and improvisation is brilliant, underlining Zawinul's description of Weather Report as a band that "never solos, but always solos." Although one might wish for a better audio mix (the drums and percussion are too loud, and the overall sound is on the shrill side), this is a welcome addition to the catalogue of a wonderful and important band that's woefully underrepresented on DVD. (Note: Fans will also want to check out the DVD of a '78 performance that's included in Forecast: Tomorrow
, Weather Report's 2006 boxed CD set.) --Sam Graham