Weather Report

Formed in 1970 in New York City, Weather Report was one of the most influential jazz fusion group of all time. Founded by Austrian keyboardist Joe Zawinul and American saxophonist Wayne Shorter, the group’s original line-up also featured American drummer and vocalist Alphonse Mouzon, Czech bassist Miroslave Vitouš, and American percussionists Don Alias and Barbara Burton. Throughout the group’s 16 years of existence, the fluid line-up would find Zawinul and Shorter joined by a series of acclaimed musicians including bassists Jaco Pastorius, Alphonso Johnson, and Victor Bailey, and drummers Alex Acuña, Chester Thompson, Peter Erskine, and Airto Moreira. The group’s origins date back to 1959 when Zawinul and Shorter met while members of Maynard Ferguson’s Big Band. After leaving Ferguson’s group, both members played with other jazz outfits before coming together again to help pioneer jazz fusion in Miles Davis’ band in 1969 and 1970. Zawinul and Shorter broke away from Davis’ band in order to create a new kind of fusion that was free of any musical boundaries. The group’s self-titled debut album was released in 1971 and featured a more acoustic approach to fusion and avant-garde jazz. By the time of the group’s second album, I Sing the Body Electric (1972), the group featured Zawinul, Shorter, and Vitouš joined by two new members. With each subsequent release, the band’s sound began to incorporate elements of R&B and featured Zawinul embracing synthesizers. 1973’s Sweetnighter reached Number 2 on the Jazz Albums chart and was followed by Mysterious Traveler (1974), which rose to Number 46 on the Billboard 200. Bassist Alphonso Johnson replaced Vitouš by the time of 1975’s Tale Spinnin’ (Number 31) and 1976’s Black Market (Number 42) before Jaco Pastorius joined the band and helped usher in the group’s most successful period yet. Their album Heavy Weather (1977) reached Number 1 on the Jazz albums chart while also climbing to Number 30 on the Billboard 200. They also achieved success with the albums Mr. Gone (1978), the Grammy Award-winning 8:30 (1979), Night Passage (1980), and Weather Report (1982). After the departure of Pastorius (due to drug addiction and mental health issues), the group continued with albums such as Procession (1983), Domino Theory (1984), Sportin' Life (1985), and This Is This (1986), although they were no longer as commercially as successful. Having fulfilled their recording contract, Wayne Shorter left Weather Report in 1986 and Joe Zawinul dissolved the group a year later. Jaco Pastorius died on September 21, 1987. Percussionist Dom Um Romão (1971-1974) died on July 27, 2005. Joe Zawinul died on September 11, 2007. Bassist Victor Bailey died on November 11, 2016. Drummer Alphonse Mouzon died on December 25, 2016. Wayne Shorter died on March 2, 2023.

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