Our Favorite Electric Jazz Funk Fusion Albums
My next two favorite Electric Jazz Funk Fusion Albums come from Jazz Fusion group Weather Report, run and fronted by sax man Wayne Shorter and keyboardist Joe Zawinul. The other members of the group have changed over the years but those two have remained the constant force behind Weather Report, until Joe passed away in 2007. The original persona also included Alphonse Mouzon on drums, Airto on percussion and Miroslav Vitous on bass. Miroslav stayed with the band until Mysterious Traveller album which was released in 1974. Alphonso Johnson held down the bass on several albums until Jaco Pastorius came along. This author had the pleasure of attending concerts with Alphonso Johnson and also a front row seat to the premiere of Jaco Pastorius on the Black Market tour.
It’s hard to pick a favorite Weather Report album, but for electric jazz funk I have to go with Sweetnighter and Mysterious Traveller. I know, I know.. Jaco was awesome. My taste comes from an earlier time when Weather Report focused less on the individual musicianship of certain members and more on how mature improvisational musicians can form a cohesive unit without having everything charted out. That’s what made Weather Report great, in my opinion. Miroslav was very funky and came from a European perspective. Joe also was from Austria but having worked with Cannonball Adderley and Miles Davis he was all in for american jazz funk.
Two albums – Mysterious Traveller and Tale Spinnin’ – had Alphonso Johnson on bass, which subtracted some of the European flavor and added a whole bunch of American funk. (Also a couple of tunes on Black Market). For me this was a very special period for Weather Report in between Miroslav and Jaco. Great semi-charted, heavily grooving, soulful music.
But my first favorite will always have to be Sweetnighter, with Miroslav, and then Mysterious Traveller with Alphonso. Mainly because the two exemplify my idea of the best in improvisational electric funk jazz. I love the funky stuff but one of my all time favorites is Manolete, written by Wayne Shorter. 125th Street Congress is sublimely funky as well.
Mysterious Traveller – this is definitely one of our all-time top favorite electric jazz funk fusion albums of all time. I was lucky to see this album performed live – in concert – two different times. The best was at Cobo Arena in Detroit – a gigantic venue with a huge crowd. Boy did they pull it off! If you want to hear how it sounded, simply play the video underneath this paragraph. There is hardly any difference. And turn it up! Alphonso Johnson was smokin! As was everyone in the fairly large band. Joe Zawinul with his array of Arp 2600 synthesizers – was extremely powerful. If I recall correctly it was Dom Um Romao on percussion, and he was an amazing showman who stole the show several times with his antics.