Reviewed by David Lynch, Fri., Dec. 8, 2006
Forecast: Tomorrow (Columbia/Legacy)
Weather Report is one of the most influential improv acts since jazz went from naughty word to sonic idiom. Like the group and its legacy, however, this 3-CD/1-DVD retrospective is a polarizing affair. Built around the compositional gifts and jaw-dropping musical interplay of reedman Wayne Shorter (Miles Davis) and keyboardist Joe Zawinul (Cannonball Adderley), Weather Report also featured Jaco Pastorius, Omar Hakim, Chester Thompson, et al. Releasing nearly an album a year in their 1970-1986 tenure, all represented here, the band influenced everyone from Pat Metheny to Bill Laswell. Yet for such an experimental band, only three of the 37 tracks here are previously unreleased. Likewise, die-hards probably already own bootlegs of the DVD, featuring a full 1978 German concert. The fact that this video has long circulated among fans doesn't diminish the sheer badassery Shorter, Zawinul, Pastorius, and drummer Peter Erskine create onstage ("Teen Town"). Like most major label box sets, re-releases predominate, but Forecast: Tomorrow samples a seminal catalog with nearly as many gems ("D-Flat Waltz," "Procession," "Havona") as keys in Zawinul's 10-keyboard live rig. The 100-page booklet with interviews, pictures, etc., is gravy. Hardcores may be less than thrilled, but this anthology was blessed by Zawinul and Shorter, and puts a sheen on the reputation that's well and truly cemented.