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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

CD Review: Miroslav Vitous – Music of Weather Report

Miroslav Vitous – double bass, keyboards; Gary Campbell, Roberto Bonisolo – soprano and tenor saxophones; Aydin Esen – keyboards; Gerald Cleaver, Nasheet Waits – drums.
(Review by Hugh C).
Miroslav Vitous, with Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter, was one of the co-founders of Weather Report in the early 1970s.  In Music of Weather Report he revisits some of their repertoire.  Scarlet Woman Variations is a great introduction and recognisably derived from Johnson, Shorter and Zawinul's original, but with some interesting takes on this signature melody.  Vitous then turns his attention one of his own compositions, Seventh Arrow.  This has a “free” feel with the two drummers, both independently minded, often apparently at odds with each other, but at the same time palpably interacting. 
One and one half minutes of Multidimension Blues 2 follows, this being one of three such pieces dotted through the CD.  Birdland Variations offers fleeting glimpses of Zawinul's original, whilst at the same time being almost a new composition.  Vitous often plays arco on this track complementing Gary Campbell and Roberto Bonisolo on saxophones as a virtual third horn.  Multidimension Blues 1 now turns up.  Pinocchio by Wayne Shorter, originally appeared on a Miles Davis album in 1967, reappearing on Weather Report's Mr Gone in 1978.  This is another interesting take on this oft-played tune with reharmonisation by keyboardist Aydin Esen.  Acrobat Issues and Scarlet Reflections, both compositions by Vitous, precede Multidimensional Blues 3.  The CD finishes with Morning Lake, another Vitous composition for the original band and (along with Seventh Arrow) on their debut CD.  A recording of a real thunderstorm in real time (it was meant to be, according to Vitous) forms part of this final track.
This CD is a bit like the British weather:  periods of dull grey skies with the occasional sunny interval and unexpected showers.  One really doesn't know what to put on!  I must admit that, with the exception of  Birdland and Scarlet Woman, the original versions were unfamiliar to me.  I did hear snippets of melody that I recognised in some of the other tracks.  There is certainly the spirit of Weather Report throughout, whether (no pun intended) there is enough to persuade lovers of the original band to buy this is open to question.  It is certainly an interesting take on their music and artistically of a very high standard (not unexpected given the calibre of the musicians involved).  Would I buy it for myself – probably not.  Would I recommend it to others?  If you have money to spare and are interested in a quirky and inventive take on the music of Weather Report – yes.
Hugh C
Music of Weather Report is now out on ECM – Catalogue Number: 377 2956

1 comment :

Steven T. said...

It will go in to my basket and hopefully at some point I'' buy it. I love Weather Report and all her bass players and I think all of his albums for ECM are amongst the best I've ever heard from the label.

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