Essential: a masterpiece of rock music
Free Form Jazz Fusion at its Best
Weather Report’s I Sing the Body Electric is an album that I’ve only recently been able to handle and appreciate. It’s extremely free form, pulling in sounds ranging from low spoken murmurs to more classic jazz soloing to strange atonal feedback. The album is custom made for lying back with headphones, as the mix is very open and airy. I feel like I’m floating in a spacy dream. The tonality will slide from pleasant melodic major phrases to chaos almost seamlessly, tricking you into thinking there was planned structure for just a moment and then flying off again into the stratosphere.
Heavy Weather is the eighth album by Weather Report, released in 1977 through Columbia Records. The release originally sold about a half million copies which would prove to be the band's most commercially successful album. Some consider it to be Weather Report's best album artistically as well. Heavy Weather received an initial 5 star review from Down Beat magazine and went on to easily win jazz album of the year by the readers of that publication. It is the band's second album with bassist Jaco Pastorius. On Black Market, Pastorius played on two of the seven tracks, but here he is a full member of the band.
Or shall we say, that is that, the final album by a group called Weather Report, now captained and guided by Josef Zawinul. The photo of Zawinul and Wayne Shorter shaking hands on the back cover of the LP is definitely a farewell gesture, for Shorter turns up on only three of the eight cuts (having left the band while this record was being made), and the record's world-music slant gives it a closer kinship with Zawinul's subsequent albums than with WR's earlier output…
Weather Report's ever-changing lineup shifts again, with the somewhat heavier funk-oriented Leon "Ndugu" Chancler dropping into the drummer's chair and Alyrio Lima taking over the percussion table. As a result, Tale Spinnin' has a weightier feel than Mysterious Traveller, while continuing the latter's explorations in Latin-spiced electric jazz/funk. Zawinul's pioneering interest in what we now call world music is more in evidence with the African percussion, wordless vocals, and sandy sound effects of "Badia," and his synthesizer sophistication is growing along with the available technology. Wayne Shorter's work on soprano sax is more animated than on the previous two albums and Alphonso Johnson puts his melodic bass more to the fore. While not quite as inventive as its two predecessors, this remains an absorbing extension of WR's mid-'70s direction.