In 2009 Czech bass player Miroslav Vitous remembered his old band with an album that evoked the spirit of the original Weather Report – Vitous was one of the founders of the jazz-fusion supergroup – without using any of its tunes. Instead the compositions on Remembering Weather Report (also on ECM) were all by Vitous with the exception of some Variations on Ornette Coleman’s Lonely Woman.
With Music Of Weather Report, Vitous continues his explorative, often experimental, always hugely entertaining approach but this time more tunes are familiar: there is some of Scarlet Woman and a whole lot of Birdland in two sets of Variations, and Wayne Shorter’s Pinocchio is also here, along with some shorter Vitous originals that link with a distinctly WR texture and sound palette of their own.
From the Remembering… album Vitous again uses saxophonist Gary Campbell and drummer Gerald Cleaver, but here he adds another of each instrument – Roberto Bonisolo is the second saxophonist, Nasheet Waits drummer number two – as well as Aydin Esen on strongly Zawinulian keyboards. Vitous himself often bows his bass and uses wah-wah, and he also adds keys.
It’s great to hear a version of Birdland – the WR greatest hit that far post-dates Vitous’s involvment with the band – which tears it apart and reconstructs it with such bold assertion. Then there are tunes Vitous wrote for Weather Report and which appeared on their first album: Morning Lake and Seventh Arrow – both still sounding as fresh and vital. Even on a tumultuos free-flowing original like Acrobat Issues the Weather Report quotes and timbres keep cropping up. It’s as if the whole band is remembering and riffing on their memories of the inspiring band while simultaneously doing their own thing.
The choice of doubling the drums and saxophones – shades of Ornette’s double quartets – is a brilliant move. Sometimes one drummer is playing fast, the other slow; the saxophones bounce off each other. The album closes with a perfectly-timed storm – all echoing thunder.
I don’t know if the band is touring this material but this really great album would make a really great concert. Weather Report have never had a truer champion than Miroslav Vitous.
Categories: CD review