Monday, May 17, 2010
Weather Report Live In Germany 1971
Looking great - sounding even better!
Live In Germany 1971
Captured somewhere between the release of their debut album and the studio recording of I Sing The Body Electric, Weather Report cook up a storm in this classic TV spot for the Bremen Beat Club show.
Thankfully devoid of the usual psychedelic TV trickery that often mars shows from this period, we get to see Joe Zawinul, Miroslav Vitous, Dom Um Romao, Alphonse Mouzon and Wayne Shorter up close and personal, playing to each other in the round.
Eye contact and body language is everything with this band as each the music takes shape.
Against a constant tide of sizzling ride cymbal and skittering funk soaked drumming, and the eclectic clatter of exotic percussion, melodies and harmonies cautiously advance with a nod of the head or a smile of encouragement.
Presented on a spartan TV studio set, this isn’t a show so much as an intimate documentary as to how music is made.
Thoughtful direction and sympathetic camera work means we catch each of the front line players making their small incremental dabs of colour which gradually build and coalesce into a complex, surging picture filled with spiky dashes of light and inventive shadow play.
Given the ferocious talents contained in the band, there’s no show stealing solos to be found. Instead it’s a collective process that seems to be about maintaining a delicate balance between groove and feel.
We get to see a lot about how these musicians work and think and how the absence of individual ego can make things happen.
At one point Shorter stands with the soprano sax poised to his lips, about to fire off a run of notes. He’s listening hard and then, the moment passes and he stands the sax down. We’ve just seen him make a judgement call about what was or wasn’t needed to help the music flow.
The same can be said for Vitous and Zawinul - the latter often seen smiling broadly as he looks across at Romao’s percussive interventions. Who’d have thought that Romao’s staple instrument was a pair of wooden soled sandals? Or that Mouzon gets to sing a flat-out in a James Brown-style?
If you want to see a masterclass in how jazz, funk and rock dynamics might be combined to produce a vibrant and exciting 50 minutes of edge-of-the-seat music, then this DVD gives you a ringside seat. Essential.