Weather Report

Live in Tokyo

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While side two of I Sing the Body Electric gives us heavily edited glimpses of Weather Report as heard live in Tokyo, this two-disc Japanese import contains entire group ensembles from that concert -- and as such, it is a revelation. Now we can follow the wild, stream-of-consciousness evolution of early Weather Report workouts, taking the listener into all kinds of stylistic territory -- from Joe Zawinul's lone acoustic piano to dissonant free form and electronic explosions -- with lots of adjustments of tempo and texture. The pulse of jazz is more evident in their work here than on their American albums, and the example of Miles Davis circa the Fillmore concerts directs the fierce interplay. In his subsequent recordings with Weather Report, and as a leader, Wayne Shorter would rarely equal the manic intensity he displayed in Tokyo. All of the music is encapsulated in five lengthy "medleys" of WR's repertoire, three of which contain elongated versions of themes from the group's eponymously titled debut album from 1971. This would be the radical apogee of Weather Report on records, though they could retain this level of fire in concert for years to come.

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