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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - 'The Legendary Live Tapes: 1978-1981'
Artist - Weather Report

For those not in the know, Weather Report was an American jazz fusion band of the 1970s and early 1980s. The band was co-led by the Austrian-born keyboard player Joe Zawinul and the American saxophonist Wayne Shorter (and, initially, by Czech bass player Miroslav Vitouš). Other prominent members at various points in the band's lifespan included Jaco Pastorius, Peter Erskine, Alex Acuņa, Alphonso Johnson, Victor Bailey, Airto Moreira and Chester Thompson.

Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, has just-released an incredible new collective, Weather Report: The Legendary Live Tapes: 1978-1981, which is a monumental 4 disc boxed set of previously unreleased live concert performances from the groundbreaking electronic jazz-rock-funk ensemble. An ensemble whose revolutionary sounds continue to influence generations of bands and music aficionados.

As history has told us, and as you listen to this evolution of music, our ears also, Weather Report defied categorization in the 15 years they recorded together. Inspired by their "electric" collaborations with Davis, Zawinul and Shorter would lead Weather Report into unpredictable territory, from free-jazz to structured but sprawling multicultural jazz-rock.

Though Zawinul would reject the "fusion" genre the band are so often associated with "We don't fuse nuthin', we just play from the heart," he once said their music would serve as a landmark for jazz revolution and evolution in the 1970s and 1980s.

The dramatic addition of electric bass virtuoso Jaco Pastorius to the lineup in 1976 led to an even more energetic and daring Weather Report, who would even score a crossover hit in 1977 with "Birdland." A year later, drummer Peter Erskine joined the fold, creating one of the band's most notable lineups; that lineup would expand to a quintet with the addition of percussionist Bobby Thomas, Jr. in 1980.

These two line-ups, responsible for some of Weather Report's most important moments, are chronicled in this four-disc set, sourced from never-before-heard soundboard tapes recorded by longtime live mixing engineer Brian Risner.

Produced by Erskine and executive produced by Joe Zawinul's son Anthony, this package uniquely showcases Weather Report's extensive prowess as a band, opting not to replicate the ebb and flow of a standard Weather Report set at the time, instead offering a uniquely curated experience that captures the dazzling directions the group took at the arguable height of their powers.

Disc One:

1. 8:30 (Live)
2. Sightseeing (Live)
3. Brown Street (Live)
4. The Orphan (Live)
5. Forlorn (Live)
6. Three Views of a Secret (Live)
7. Medley: Badia / Boogie Woogie Waltz (Live)
8. Wayne Solo (Live)
9. Jaco Solo (Osaka 1980) (Live)

Disc Two:

1. Joe and Wayne Duet (Tokyo 1978) (Live)
2. Birdland (Live)
3. Peter's Solo (Drum Solo (Live))
4. A Remark You Made (Live)
5. Continuum / River People (Live)
6. Gibraltar (Live)

Disc Three:
1. Fast City (Live)
2. Madagascar (Live)
3. Night Passage (Live)
4. Dream Clock (Live)
5. Rockin' In Rhythm (Live)
6. Port of Entry (Live)

Disc Four:
1. Elegant People (Live)
2. Scarlet Woman (Live)
3. Black Market (Live)
4. Jaco Solo (Osaka 1978) (Live)
5. Teen Town (Live)
6. Peter's Drum Solo (Osaka 1978) (Live)
7. Directions (Live)

From my humble opinionated state, Weather Report, and their collective ability to perform at the highest levels of musical endeavor, let alone constant innovation, and still create a series of recordings that would appeal to the largest possible audience, is an amazing frat unto itself.

I mean, come on now, surely "Birdland" and "Teen Town" are among the very highest accomplishments of what might be dubbed accessible jazz? Combining simple, catchy melodies with progressive chord structures, and impossibly bubbly rhythms, they lend themselves both to extensive radio play and extended musical contemplation. Quite a feat, as I say.

In closing, alongside Miles Davis's electric bands, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Headhunters, Weather Report is considered to be one of the pre-eminent early jazz fusion bands. As a continuous working unit, Weather Report outlasted all of its contemporaries despite (or perhaps because of) frequent changes of personnel, with a career lasting sixteen years between 1970 and 1986. This brand new live recording showcases all that and more, trust me. Ergo, with Weather Report at the absolute pinnacle of jazz/fusion, casually, effortlessly, blowing out of the water the entire jam band scene of its time, this 4CD live set is not to be missed.