Miroslav Vitous: Music of Weather Report (ECM 2364)

Music of Weather Report

Miroslav Vitous
Music of Weather Report

Miroslav Vitous double bass, keyboards
Gary Campbell soprano and tenor saxophones
Roberto Bonisolo soprano and tenor saxophones
Aydin Esen keyboards
Gerald Cleaver drums
Nasheet Waits drums
Recording producer and engineer: Miroslav Vitous
Recorded March and May 2010, February and March 2011 at Universal Syncopations Studios
Assistant engineer: Andrea Luciano
Executive producer: Manfred Eicher
Release date: June 10, 2016

The bass of Miroslav Vitous has been a hub of creative activity since making its ECM debut on 1979’s collaboration with Terje Rypdal and Jack DeJohnette. In the intervening six years since leaving Weather Report, he had deepened his voice on the instrument, taking his arco dialects into more fluent directions than ever. Unlike its soft companion, Remembering Weather Report, which evoked the feel of his seminal band, this latest redux dives headlong into the cofounder’s originals that made Weather Report shine. Fascinating not only for its audacity, but also for its assembly, it pairs drummers Gerald Cleaver, occupying the left channel with saxophonist Gary Campbell, and Nasheet Waits, occupying the right with saxophonist Roberto Bonisolo. Rounded by Turkish keyboardist Aydin Esen, the sound is best realized on the tune “Seventh Arrow,” in which both sides of this improvisationally free equation flip on a glowing equals sign. Along with “Morning Lake,” which unleashes a quiet army of melodic water skeeters, it references Weather Report’s very first album from 1971 on Columbia.

The music of Joe Zawinul is a touchstone of the program, which opens with “Scarlet Woman Variations” in a necklace of reiterations as threaded by an electronically enhanced Vitous and the clarion sopranism of Campbell. In that same spirit the sextet takes on a reshuffled “Birdland Variations,” wherein joy abounds. Like the two “Multi Dimension Blues” of Vitous sandwiching it, it finds beauty behind closed eyes and open hands. Best described in Vitous’s own words as “two galaxies or universes pulling and affecting each other,” the two tandems therein create more than they replace. Esen’s atmospheric touches in “Birdland” evoke more of the same, only now with a more nostalgic feel that’s still fresh as a sunrise. Wayne Shorter’s “Pinocchio” gets an even freer treatment that traces the present band’s luminescence with astronomical precision.

In “Acrobat Issues,” Vitous rebinds an old book with burnished leather, leaving the gold stamping to the dialoguing tenors and the final stitching to his drummers. Hearing their interplay so beautifully recorded will give those familiar with Weather Report much to celebrate, while to those not it will serve as the eyepiece of a time-honored microscope looking in on a watershed moment of jazz history.

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