By David Chiu
Given the sheer breadth of Weather Report’s music spanning 15 years, it is surprising the group never had a indepth retrospective of its innovative and groundbreaking jazz rock. That oversight has been greatly remedied through this wonderful boxed set chronicling one of the superstar jazz outfits from the 1970s. Fronted by former Miles Davis sidemen keyboardist Josef Zawinul and saxophonist Wayne Shorter, Weather Report made music that was challenging, audacious and eclectic enough to incorporate elements of pop, funk and world: from the mysterious “Milky Way,” the pop-oriented “Birdland” (off the band’s most popular album Heavy Weather) to the sublime and serene “Dream Clock.” Though Zawinul and Shorter were the heart and soul (the former showcasing some trippy keyboard lines and the latter’s performing lyrical solos) of the band throughout the band’s various incarnations, they knew that collaboration was the key to their success—the talented players included drummers Chester Thompson, Alex Acuna, and Peter Erskine; and bassists Alphonse Johnson and the late great Jaco Pastorious. It is quite fitting that that box begins with Miles Davis’s “In a Silent Way” (which features Zawinul and Shorter) and ends with DJ Logic’s remix of “125th Congress,” showing how much the direction jazz music went as Weather Report evolved. The treat for fans is a DVD of a 1979 concert from Germany featuring Zawinul, Shorter, Erskine and Pastorious (For young jazz heads, seeing Pastorious in his prime and glory is a must).