Sunday Night Jazz Showcase
Program #259 (July 14 at 8:00 p.m.)
Weather Report started out as a jazz equivalent of what the rock world in 1970 was calling a "supergroup." But unlike most of the rock supergroups, this one not only kept going for a good 15 years, it more than lived up to its billing, practically defining the state of the jazz-rock art throughout almost all of its run.
Weather Report also anticipated and contributed to the North American interest in world music rhythms and structures, prodded by keyboardist/co-founder Joe Zawinul. And the band, like many of jazz's great long-lived groups, proved to be an incubator for several future leaders who passed in and out of the band in a never-ending series of revolving-door personnel changes.
The original members of the band were Zawinul, Wayne Shorter (saxophones), Miroslav Vitous (electric bass), Airto Moreira (percussion) and Alphonse Mouzon (drums), with only Zawinul and (until 1985) Shorter remaining in place throughout the band's lifespan.
Zawinul, Shorter and Moreira all had experience playing in and influencing the studio and live electric bands of Miles Davis -- and at first, WR was a direct extension of Miles' In a Silent Way/Bitches Brew period, with free-floating collective improvisation and interplay, combining elements of jazz, rock, funk, Latin and other ethnic musics.
With the release of Sweetnighter in 1972, Zawinul's influence upon the band's direction began to deepen; the groove became more important, structures were imposed upon the material (though the group continued its freewheeling interplay in live gigs).
(provided by Allmusic)