All things being relative, this is Weather Report's straightahead album, where the elaborate production layers of the late-'70s gave way to sparer textures and more unadorned solo improvisation in the jazz tradition, electric instruments and all. The flaw of this album is the shortage of really memorable compositions; it is more of a vehicle for the virtuosic feats of what is considered by some to be the classic WR lineup -- Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter, Jaco Pastorius, Robert Thomas, Jr. and Peter Erskine. For Erskine, this is is first full studio album and he amply demonstrates his terrific sense of forward drive unique among the other superb drummers in WR annals. "Port of Entry" is a tour de force for Jaco, who knocks off several of those unbelievably slippery, pointed runs that have made him a posthumous legend. There is also a tremendously fun retro trip to Duke Ellington's "Rockin' in Rhythm," everybody swinging their heads and hands off.
Night Passage Review
by Richard S. Ginell