Weather Report were one of the most famous of all the 70's jazz-fusion groups, and this 1976 live set was filmed at the Montreux Jazz Festival just as the band were set to work on what would become their huge seller Heavy Weather. Touring in support of their release Black Market, this show features the classic line-up of Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter, Jaco Pastorius (in his second live gig with the band), Alex Acuna, and Manolo Badrena. These cats were a formidable live act, and this DVD is proof of that.
Having only been available as a sub-par VHS bootleg for many years (thankfully we can now throw those copies away!), Eagle Rock has done a wonderful job with this concert, restoring the full set and cleaning up the audio. While for some the sound might be a tad too hot (Shorter's sax and the drums & percussion from Acuna and Badrena are pretty loud), overall it's damn good. The band is on fire and seems to really be enjoying playing together (remember, this line-up was still in its infancy at the time of the recording) in front of a reserved but ultimately enthusiastic crowd. Highlights-there's many; the symphonic funk of "Black Market", with soaring electric piano passages from Zawinul, Jaco's deep grooves, and the out-of-control percussion work from Acuna & Badrena. How about the atmospheric fusion of "Elegant People" & "Scarlett Woman"? The incredibly tight "Barbary Coast" is amazing to watch, with Shorter's sax screaming and Jaco's complex bass riffery stealing the show. All the players get brief solo spots (as if the regular songs didn't have enough space to showcase their melodic chops), which was something quite common during the 70's fusion boom. If you listen carefully you can hear little ideas and melodies that would wind up on songs from Heavy Weather (Zawinul teasing with the intro to "Birdland" during the intense "Dr Honoris Causa and Directions" is one example), as it is pretty evident from watching these guys cook here that the creative juices were really flowing. The bass playing of Jaco Pastorius is especially mindblowing throughout-this legend was so ahead of his time, with his blisteringly fast runs, melodic phrasing, and plenty of soul, he took the electric bass (and fretless for that matter) to new levels. Such a tragedy that he is no longer with us.
Add in majestic versions of "Badia" and "Gibralter", and you have a landmark fusion experience that is the "must have" DVD purchase for fans of the genre here in 2007.
1) Elegant people
2) Scarlet Woman
3) Barbary Coast
4) Portrait of Tracy(bass solo)
6) Black market
7) Drum & Percussion Duet
8) Piano & Saxophone Duet
9) Dr Honoris Causa/Directions