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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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CD/DVD REVIEW


WEATHER REPORT

Live in Berlin 1975

Art of Groove MIG 80020

 

 


CD
1. Freezing Fire
2. Scarlet Woman
3. Mysterious Traveller
4. Badia / Boogie Woogie Waltz

DVD
1. Freezing Fire
2. Scarlet Woman
3. Mysterious Traveller
4. Badia / Boogie Woogie Waltz

Joe Zawinul - Synthesizer, Fender Rhodes, grand piano
Wayne Shorter - Tenor sax, soprano sax, piano
Alphonso Johnson - Electric bass
Chester Thompson - Drums
Alex Acuna - Percussion

 

Is it really 40 year since Weather Report was formed? I can still feel the excitement generated by many of their recordings, which seemed to put together several new ideas in jazz fusion. The term "technoflash" might have been coined to describe the band's style, as it mixed startling technique with impressive music. This "two-for-the-price-of-one" set allows us both to hear and see their Berlin concert in 1975 - the year before Jaco Pastorius joined the band.

Joe Zawinul's keyboards dominate the first track, which is driven forcefully by the bass and drums of Alphonso Johnson and Chester Thompson. The tempo seems dementedly fast. There is not a lot of melodic appeal in the improvisation. Scarlet Woman has some neat harmonising between keyboards and sax, with Wayne Shoter's soprano sax stating a soaring theme. Yet again the overall impression is primarily a wash of electronic sound, with the musicians almost marking time rather than pushing forwards.

Mysterious Traveller opens with Wayne Shorter at the piano (uncredited on the sleeve). It is another slice of powerhouse jazz-rock. Zawinul's Badia opens with several minutes of doodling by its composer on his massive banks of keyboards, supported by Alex Acuna's rattling bongoes, before Wayne Shorter supplies an oriental theme. There is a nice spot in mid-tune when Joe plays some lyrical piano but the track then becomes very repetitive, with Wayne Shorter repeating the same phrase over and over again.

The DVD version doesn't add a great deal to the audio disc, as the video was filmed in semi-darkness and is sometimes out of focus. At least the camera stays still for more than a few seconds, avoiding one of the foremost crimes of DVD producers.

Despite the undoubted technical brilliance of all five musicians, there is often a sense of them coasting along on the waves of Zawinul's synthesised waves of sound and Chester Thompson's fusion drumming. I never thought I would feel bored by a Weather Report album but this set managed the near-impossible, although it is good value for devoted Report fans.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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