By 1974 Weather Report were already jazz superstars. Co-founders Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter had been members of the influential Miles Davis group of 1969-70 but both wanted to take this sonic innovation further. Unlike the studio experimentation of Miles’ producer Teo Macero in which the music evolved from open-ended rhythm tracks, Zawinul and Shorter were – from the outset – more interested in composition.
Added to this is Zawinul’s restless exploration of the new keyboard sounds that were percolating into jazz from rock sources and Shorter’s asymmetric soloing on the increasingly popular soprano saxophone. The result – a jazz group whose melodies are as strong as any compositions in jazz.
Mysterious Traveller was not the breakthrough Weather Report album (that was Sweetnighter from 1973) but it has the best grooves (Nubian Sundance and Cucumber Slumber), the most austerely beautiful soloing (Blackthorn Rose and the title track) and the most moving of Zawinul’s home studio creations (Jungle Book). Every track is a small masterpiece and we’ll be playing them all on Cosmic Jazz over the next seven weeks. Enjoy!