(All Album Reviews by Chuck AzEee!)
The mercurial band, Weather Report, like their former employer Miles Davis, has been a revolving door for some talented musicians, mostly drummers and bassists. Being that this was Weather Report's fourth album, Mysterious Traveller, is the begining of keyboardist Josef Zawinul's dominance on both the music and overall sound.
Another note of significance is that co-founding member, bassist Miroslav Vitous, left the band to focus on a solo career, and the first time electric bass phenom Alphonso Johnson played with the band. Josef Zawinul and Wayne Shorter were so ahead of their peers, that the band to this point in their career, had never made a bad album, Mysterious Traveller was not going to change that notion.
The album begins with the heavily percussive "Nubian Sundance", a Zawinul track, is a song that except for short burst on tenor, that Wayne rarely plays on, but that's not a bad thing, as for the track, which is a live recordiing, also features a female singing choir chanting about. Very hyper sounding.
Next song, is the last song bassist Miroslav Vitous would ever appear on as a member of Weather Report, the jazz-oriented "American Tango", playing co-bass parts with Alphonso doubling on The electric bass.
Track No. 3, is perhaps the greatest song that Alphonso Johnson ever appeared on in his tenure with the band, a song co-witten by him, the funky "Cucumber Slumber". Alphonso plays a loose pace that extends outside the music without being annoying, also features a drop dead soprano sax solo by Wayne, that's just as great as Alphonso's bass work.
The title track, is a wonderful almost, psychedelic-like track, features more of the album's trademark percussion theme, provided lovely by Ishmael Wilburn and Skip Hadden. Next is the lovely "Blackthorn Rose", which is basically a duet between Wayne on soprano sax and Josef on acoustic and electric piano. "Blackthorn Rose" like the album closer "Jungle Book", belie the harshness of the music presented on Mysterious Traveller.
One of my all-time favorite Weather Report songs is next, the dark sounding "Scarlet Woman" which epitomizes the album's over all creepiness. The last song on the album, is the lovely folk-deriative "Jungle Book", which like a number of songs, could pass for music for movie soundtracks.
Some might prefer the guitar driven jazz-rock bands like Return To Forever, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Spectrum and Eleventh Dream, but Weather Report's flame was still burning on this album.
Album Rating: Five stars