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Weather Report: The Columbia Albums 1971-1975
Weather Report, along with Return to Forever, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Herbie Hancock and the Tony Williams Lifetime—and, of course, Miles Davis’ late ‘60s landmarks Bitches Brew and _In a Silent Way_—defined the fusion genre at its inception, but only some of the music produced during the peak of the era—the first half of the ‘70s—holds up well today, excised from the context of the times. The group’s first half-dozen albums (one a double live set) have now been packaged as The Columbia Albums (1971-1975), and when taken as a piece
and listened to sequentially, they offer something of a mini-history of the movement’s uneven genesis itself. On their self-titled debut, Weather Report—in their initial incarnation Joe Zawinul (keyboards), Wayne Shorter (saxophones), Miroslav Vitouš (electric bass), Airto Moreira (percussion) and Alphonse Mouzon (drums)—set out to knowingly create something revolutionary and accomplished that. Using the still relatively virgin synthesizer judiciously, Zawinul created textured soundscapes that felt otherworldly, while Shorter blew his soprano sax aggressively and freely. Under all of that boundary-pushing churned a relentless rhythm battery that knew how to work a serious groove. Was it jazz? Was it rock? Neither and both—it was something new and an audience hungered for it when it arrived. During the next four years, Zawinul and Shorter would become the only remaining founders, and Weather Report increasingly evolved into their vehicle and less of a democratic unit. While 1972’s I Sing the Body Electric and Live In Tokyo displayed the outfit’s improvisational acumen to the fullest, the three subsequent studio albums were less innovative and more commercially driven. Not to worry though, Weather Report were far from finished—with the arrival of their new bassist in 1976, a newcomer named Jaco Pastoriu (that period is covered on a second boxed set), both Weather Report and fusion would be redefined incalculably.
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
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The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
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