Weekend Extra: Weather Report, Birdland

Put aside all of the old arguments about whether this is jazz, jazz-rock, fusion, world music, ethnic music, R&B, funk or something else. The arguments don’t matter anymore, if they ever did. This is truly, to borrow Ellington’s overused phrase, beyond category. There is no more stunning instance of what rhythm, harmony and harmonics can do for a repeated riff. Joe Zawinul wrote the song. This version of Weather Report is Zawinul at his electronic keyboard arsenal, Wayne Shorter playing two kinds of saxophone, Jaco Pastorius on bass and Peter Erskine on drums. The performance is from a concert in Germany in 1978. There are a couple of rough spots in the tape. Be glad the tape exists. YouTube says this clip has been viewed more than a million times.

Have a good weekend.

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  1. August West says

    Brill performance. But I’m happy the shirtless rhythm section thing never caught on.

  2. says

    Always loved the recorded version of “Birdland” – still do. The live version always struck me as odd because they break into a shuffle rhythm, a seemingly antithetical move to the “original” nature of the piece. Anyway,I saw them perform this live on Jaco’s first tour and it was a gas! (and every one of them kept his shirt on.)