Weather Report: The Legendary Live Tapes: 1978-1981 is a monumental 4 disc boxed set of previously unreleased live concert performances from the groundbreaking electronic jazz-rock-funk ensemble whose revolutionary sounds continue to influence -generations of bands and music aficionados.
Recorded “completely, totally, unapologetically and insanely live” during Weather Report’s mythic concert heydays from 1978-1981, The Legendary Live Tapes showcases the group’s classic line-up of Joe Zawinul (keyboards), Wayne Shorter (saxophone), Jaco Pastorius (electric bass), Peter Erskine (drums) and Robert Thomas, Jr. (Hand Drums) at the peak of their collective powers.
This essential Weather Report collection of previously unreleased performances has been meticulously assembled, curated and produced by Peter Erskine and Tony Zawinul (son of the late Joe Zawinul.
When electric bass virtuoso Jaco Pastorius joined the Weather Report lineup in 1976, the group’s sound evolved into even more adventurous and pioneering directions. The ensemble landed a crossover hit, “Birdland,” in 1977. Drummer Peter Erskine joined in 1978 with Weather Report expanding into a formidable electric quintet with the addition of percussionist Robert “Bobby” Thomas, Jr. in 1980.
Performance high-points from these quartet and quintet lineups are chronicled in Weather Report: The Legendary Live Tapes: 1978-1981 and have been sourced from never-before-heard (outside the band) soundboard tapes recorded by Weather Report’s longtime mixing engineer Brian Risner, and bootleg recordings from the audience. Rather than attempt to recreate the ebb and flow of a Weather Report set list of the era, The Legendary Live Tapes presents a variety of key individual performances, each of them capturing the unique and dazzling musical directions Weather Report was capable of achieving.
The 4 disc collection includes extensive notes and song-by-song descriptions of the performances penned by Peter Erskine.
Charles Mingus had called upon Joni Mitchell in the last months of his life to work on a musical version of T.S. Elliot’s Four Quartets, a project which ultimately was scrapped but served as the catalyst to Joni’s “Mingus” album. Initial recordings for this album were done with other musicians, but Joni settled upon an all-star cast of Jaco on bass, along with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Peter Erskine, Don Alias and others. Sadly, Mingus died before this album was completed.
Released in October of 2002, this 2-CD release is a collection of live recordings from 1975-1983, featuring a wide variety of musicians that made up the group over the years. Jaco fans will be pleased with the number of tracks he performs on as well, including a live performance of “Portrait of Tracy”. This album was released to critical acclaim and is the first “new” music from Weather Report in many years.
The music for Night Passage was created during Weather Reports tours from 1979 and 1980, following the live album, 8:30. The album was recorded live in front of 250 people at the Complex in Los Angeles over four shows in two nights. Jaco’s “Three Views of a Secret” composition, which later appeared on his Word of Mouth album, first appeared on this album.
Mr. Gone is one of those recordings which causes debate among fans of Weather Report and Jaco. The album features two Jaco compositions, including “River People” and “Punk Jazz”. Jaco elaborated about “River People” during an interview with the BBC’s Clive Williamson: “I have a tune, ‘River People’, and I wanted a certain kind of feel, so I decided to play drums on it. We were in a transformation period, I broke my right wrist and we had some time off, and just Joe and I were in the studio. So we did ‘River People’ that way, building the tune up on the spot. It was all written out, so all Joe had to do was play his parts, and I played mine, and it just all gelled together, and I did some overdubs. In fact, we played the bass parts together ‘coz he got this synth sound, sort of a little twang, almost like a little guitar on the top, with my bass rolling on the bottom. So we just played to the click track, and I went back and overdubbed the drums with that, as opposed to ‘Teen Town’ where I played the drums first, and overdubbed the bass part afterwards.”
Weather Report’s best-selling album is also Jaco’s first as a co-leader. Here, Zawinul’s mega hit “Birdland” leads off the album, followed by Jaco’s lyrical fretless work on “A Remark You Made” and Jaco’s own “Teen Town” (with Jaco on bass and drums). Jaco was nominated for a Grammy (Best Jazz Soloist) for his work on this album.
On Jaco’s 30th birthday (December 1st, 1981), he held his own “surprise” party at Mr. Pip’s in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. This recording documents the birthday party concert with 11 tracks.
The Peter Graves Orchestra and other Jaco favorites were brought together as The Word of Mouth Band for this spirited performance. Peter Erskine contributes liner notes for this release and is also the album’s producer.
Jaco’s Word of Mouth big band recorded live in concert in Japan in 1982. Invitation was the U.S. release through Warner Bros., which included 9 tracks. A Japanese 2-LP release (Twins I & II) contained 13 tracks. Both are available as re-issues today.
In 1981, while still with Weather Report, Jaco created the Word of Mouth Big Band, featuring Toots Thielemans on harmonica as well as an all-star cast made up of Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Peter Erskine, Jack DeJohnette, Michael Brecker, Don Alias, and others.