With this album, Weather Report restore interest and credibility. Past efforts have been guilty of all manner of vapid redundancy, but this has rich content, imagination, fire and passion.
A shift of genre has produced a band that has eschewed funk for swing, and not just in style. Ellington’s Rockin’ In Rhythm is tangible proof of this, and a fine interpretation. Zawinul and Shorter in synthesised unison perfectly mimic the rich warmth of a big band. Pastorius proves himself a master of the swinging, walking bass line, while Thomas’s hand drums provide essential offbeat accompaniment.
Strong themes and changes of mood complete the transition, and save a potential dinosaur of jazz/rock from extinction. Slower themes like Dream Clock with its ecclesiastical keyboard intro, are juxtaposed with atmosphere pieces like Port Of Entry, with foghorn sounds reproduced on bass followed by a bustling ensemble section closely reminiscent of a busy seaport.
For me, this album redeems a poor and overblown performance at Hammersmith last year. Weather Reports talents are shown at their best in the studio as this fine record proves.
Night Passage; Dream Clock; Port Of Entry; Forlorn (22.31) – Rockin’ In Rhythm; Fast City; Three Views Of A Secret; Madagascar (26.51)
Joe Zawinul (ky); Wayne Shorter (s); Jaco Pastorius (elb); Peter Erskine (d); Robert Thomas (pc).