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Sweetnighter

4.6 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 9, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

SWEETNIGHTER
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 9, 2009)
  • Original Release Date: February 9, 2009
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: SBME SPECIAL MKTS.
  • Run Time: 44 minutes
  • ASIN: B002HMHQZG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,014 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
The first reason to get this disk is aesthetic. "Sweetnighter" is a unique recording: it includes the least structured, open-ended music that Weather Report recorded, and it was the last one they made before technological progress armed Joe Zawinul with more synthesizers than was perhaps healthy.

Some jazz fan acquaintances used to point to this recording and complain that Zawinul had kidnapped Wayne Shorter and was holding incommunicado in some safe house in Newark. To them there were no solos. They missed the point. Rather than soloing over an accompanying rhythm section, Shorter plays a kind of running commentary, coming in an out of a mix in which the bass(es) and percussion are given equal billing to Shorter's sax and Zawinul's keyboards. Sometimes everyone solos at once and it takes very, very accomplished musicians to pull this off without it degenerating into cacophony.
Yet it would be misleading to pigeonhole this record as Weather Report surrenders to the groove. Perhaps the most remarkable composition on the disk is Miroslav Vitous' ethereal "Will" which is percussion-less. Indeed, one of the remarkable things about this record are how varied the six pieces are: two open-ended jams - "Boogie Woogie Waltz" and "125th Street Congress;" a fairly conventional Shorter composition "Manolette;" two Zawinul tone poems a la "In A Silent Way" or "His Last Journey," "Adios" and "Non-Stop Home;" and Vitous' transcendent "Will."
The other reason to get this disk is the way it sounds. The mass conversion of analogue tapes to digital formats has yielded some real disasters - e.g. Shorter's "Native Dancer" where entire instruments disappeared from the mix. This recording, in contrast, is a case in which the move to CD is a clear improvement over the original vinyl.
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Format: Audio CD
Prior to founding Weather Report in 1971, Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter were already well-known jazz musicians (players & composers) with impeccable credentials; and, as most fans are aware, both men were major contributors to Miles Davis' "IN A SILENT WAY"(1969) and "BITCHES BREW"(1970). It was therefore quite natural that Weather Report's first couple of efforts would be closely related: while containing some brilliant flashes, these early recordings were less successful (if interesting) continuations of the musical aesthetic set forth in the aforementioned landmarks. The group's third recording ("SWEETNIGHTER": 1973) was the breakthrough that established what most fans think of as the "Weather Report sound". The album inaugurated an approach that satisfied diehard fans while opening doors to "casual" listeners who were not kindly disposed to more esoteric and self-consciously "serious" forms of jazz. The adoption and elaboration of funky rhythm & blues "grooves" (a la Curtis Mayfield, et al ) was a vitally important ingredient that lent the music a propulsion and flow analogous to the bop swing feel that had for decades characterized jazz rhythm. To be sure, Weather Report was not the first band to do this; what set them apart was the absolutely seamless manner in which they integrated R&B grooves, achieving an authentic fluency that allowed them to break free from the reigning "rhythmic paradigm" while simultaneously retaining a connection to the older swing feel by virtue of shared (African) roots.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
This is a great album to play at parties. Joe Zawinul played piano for one of the funkiest soul jazz combos of the 60s (Cannonball Adderley's Quintet), so it was just a matter of time before he'd bring the GROOVE into Weather Report. And on Sweetnighter, the third in a line of classic studio recordings, he does it in a big way. The experimental, dark sound of the early albums is abandoned for a more celebratory, accessible sound. The album starts with a 13 minute slab of quasi-Latin jazz-funk, Zawinul's "Boogie Woogie Waltz" -- a brilliant monument to layered grooves that builds and builds to one of the band's catchiest, most memorable themes. "125th Street Congress" is similar, though less directed and even funkier. The shorter numbers aren't quite as earth-shaking but still stand high in the Weather Report canon. "Adios" is the last in a line of great Zawinul tone poems, following in the steps of "In a Silent Way" and "Orange Lady" if not quite reaching their level. "Non-Stop Home" is Wayne Shorter's take on the funk, while Miroslav Vitous's "Will" is a beautiful piece of floating melody over interlocking rhythms. And indeed, on this album, every member of the band is part of a huge rhythmic machine. Shorter plays some great saxophone but now he's less of a soloist and more of a colorist; Zawinul doesn't dominate the band's sound yet, but uses synthesizers melodically for the first time. (He used a synth on "Unknown Soldier", but that was purely as a sound effect.)

This is the high point of Weather Report's studio career and one of the greatest fusion recordings.

(This review is based on the previous edition of Sweetnighter, from the 90s, which sounds perfectly fine to my ears.)
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