(All Album Reviews by Chuck AzEee!)
Finally a new release from the maestros of the jazz-fusion pioneers. After years of talk, Weather Report has released a double CD worth of material that was long overdue. Taken from plethora of concerts spanning from 1975 to 1983, Live And Unreleased captures some of the band's different incarnations in some rather spirited forms.
Rather than write song per song, I will write about the tour that the songs were taken from, as for the album, although these CDs could pass for a continuous concert, the mixing and editing shuffled around songs in each concert in a rather great song arrangement that is quite pleasing to the ear.
The album starts off with a track from the Nov. 27th 1975 date that featured the great Alphonso Johnson on the electric fretless bass and future Genesis member, Chester Thompson, on Drums with percussionist Alex Acuna. Of all of the great music on this album, this particular date, the band was extremely charged as the first song from this concert, "Freezing Fire" is as powerful as the band ever would sound. After hearing that song you will probably be wondering why they did not leave the songs as the concerts were originally recorded.
The next concert date, Sept. 10th 1977, is the most ethnic the band would sound, as it ushered the coming of the greatest electric bassist of all time, Jaco Pastorius and probably the band's most famous lineup as this is the same lineup that produced the opus "Heavy Weather". Later that year on Nov. 30th 1977, this lineup recorded a great version of "Elegant People" and a version of Jaco's magical "Portrait Of Tracy" pops up.
The greatest and most imaginative lineup that Weather Report ever had (Jaco and drum virtuoso Peter Erskine along with the leaders, keyboardist Zawinul and reed man Wayne Shorter put to rest who were the greatest band of the genre) as for all four innovatively changed the band and altered Jazz forever. 8:30 hinted the band's majestic prowess, but this album furthers the reputation.
Last is the band's most underrated lineup, featured on sadly, three songs the lineup of Victor Bailey on fretless and Omar Hakim on drums, usually is downcasted for not having the imagination of the predecessors (Jaco and Peter, therefore Zawinul and Shorter were writing less adventurous music) but do not let that fool you into believing both Omar and Victor are not great musicians. And the this date captures the band performing three great songs which personally fit in well with the rest of the great songs on Live and Unreleased.
I waited patiently for this compilation to come out and I wish that there was more in the Zawinul's and Shorter's vaults if it is even half as good, because this is prime material, which also is well recorded.
Album Rating: Five Stars and what are you waiting for..............