Weather Report

Montreux Jazz Festival, 1976

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The 1976 Montreux Jazz Festival was a highly percussive outing for Weather Report, with drummer Alex Acuña and percussionist Manolo Badrena in starring roles. This is jazz fusion at its zenith. The musicians are energetic and passionate, driving their music to new, soaring heights. The performance features Badrena and Acuña's intense "Rumba Mama" in all its uncut glory, expanding upon the edited version that appears on Heavy Weather. It is easily one of the most stunning percussion performances ever captured on tape and must be seen to be believed.

Most of the material on Montreux Jazz Festival appears in its original studio form on the then-recently released Black Market. The festival was one of Jaco Pastorius' first live appearances with the group. His solo, "Portrait of Tracy," is refined but restrained compared to his later, and at times bombastic, solos. The video, originally taped for broadcast only, is essential viewing for anyone interested in the band, its component parts (each bandmember solos beautifully), or jazz and jazz fusion in general. The one minor drawback is that new bandmember Pastorius appears on camera much less than the other four members. The camera work, editing, sound, and lighting are superb, and the performance ranks alongside Weather Report's finest albums.

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