Saturday, January 9, 2010

Weather Report Live In Tokyo. 1972.

"Live In Tokyo" captures the Jazz-rock fusion band Weather Report in a stunning performance at Shibuya Hall in January 1972. The band line-up for the concert consisted of Joe Zawinul on pianos, Wayne Shorter on saxophone, Miroslav Vitous on bass, Eric Gravatt on drums and Dom Um Romao on percussion.
Segments from this album were released as half of the band's second album "I Sing The Body Electric". On this album however, it is a complete 90-minute performance consisting of five lengthy tracks (four of which are continuous suites containing different pieces).
The band was definitely on a musical high during this particular concert displaying a sound that is raw and full of fierce improvisation. Joe Zawinul's keyboard work is at its most experimental here as he modifies his electric piano with a distortion box, wah-wah pedal and a ring modulator. This sometimes gives the impression that there's a guitarist on-stage during the performance when in fact there is no guitar to be heard. His acoustic piano work is also experimental as he sometimes plays it from the inside striking its strings by hand instead of with the keyboard.
Miroslav Vitous's bass work is also at its best here, alternating between acoustic and electric. There are several moments during this album (especially in the opening medley) where Vitous grabs the spotlight with his unique style. His work with the bowed bass on "Orange Lady" is particularly strking and haunting.
Wayne Shorter's sax playing is at its most free form here. It's not exactly like Ornette Coleman or John Coltrane but it is highly improvisational and momentous. His work on the band's studio albums tends to be more refined and subdued but here, Wayne lets it rip and tear.
Drummer Eric Gravatt is a sadly underrated drummer but nonetheless does an outstanding job here. His extended drum solo is the first thing heard on this album. Throughout this performance, he pushes the rhythm with full force.
Percussionist Dom Um Romao also has some moments in the spotlight here. Besides spicing up Gravatt's rhythms with various percussive toys, Romao also has a solo moment in the album's second suite using whistles, a thumb piano and using his own body as an instrument. There is a similar moment in the intro to "Orange Lady".
Overall, the "Live In Tokyo" performance captures the early Weather Report at its very best. This music is extremely agressive and loud. The other live albums from the band ("8:30" and the recent "Live and Unreleased") are a lot mellower compared to this one. "Live In Tokyo" is definitely an essential title if you're a Weather Report fan. If you're new to the band's music, this may not be the place to start, however it certainly is not unlistenable.
This album has yet to be released in the U.S. even after its intial release in Japan over 30 years ago. Hopefully, that will all change in the near future. This is some great music and a great live performance from a great band. Definitely worth checking out

Record One:
1. Medley - Vertical Invader/Seventh Arrow/T.H./Doctor Honoris Causa
2. Medley - Surucucu/Lost/Early Minor/Direction

Record Two:
1. Orange Lady
2. Medley - Eurydice/The Moors
3. Medley - Tears/Umbrellas


marram62 said...

Ostrogoth said...

Thanks !