LAST CALL CD OF THE MONTH: Weather Report/Heavy Weather/Columbia

Nov 29, 2017

Weather Report's Heavy Weather, released 40 years ago in 1977, was a showcase for the band's ability to create smart, groovy jazz rock that would appeal to a wide audience. Heavy Weather originally sold about 500,000 copies and continues to be an in-demand record.

"Birdland", keyboardist Joe Zawinul's composition, started the date with an immediately accessible beat & groove that featured the band at their very best. And the song itself became a radio hit, eventually becoming one of the widely covered tunes in jazz, being performed by a wide variety of groups including Manhattan Transfer, Maynard Ferguson, and many others.

The record continues with the bittersweet "A Remark You Made",  that has a melodic beauty to it that has lended itself to very effective covers from jazz vocalists Al Jarreau, Kurt Elling and instrumental groups as well.

Not as widely known from the record are "Rumba Mama" that features a percussion discussion from band members Alex Acuna, the band's drummer, and Manolo Badrena, percussionist, on vocals and conga.

Also worth mentioning are the two compositions by bassist Jaco Pastorius. His "Teen Town" has a buoyant energy that is hard to resist that features the legendary bassist prominently, and the recordings final selection is another Pastorious gem, "Havona".

Weather Report was co-founded by keyboardist Joe Zawinul, who performed with Cannonball Adderley for many years before going on to work with Miles Davis; and Wayne Shorter, the legendary saxophonist who was part of the Miles Davis quintet. Zawinul and Shorter made important contributions to the historic In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew sessions that helped launch Jazz-Rock in the late 1960s, before founding Weather Report and co-leading the band for 15 years.

Heavy Weather is a good introduction  for any new fan of Weather Report to their rich, colorful and groundbreaking music.