Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Miroslav Vitous - Remembering Weather Report (ECM, 2009)

Listeners expecting a strict tribute to the seminal fusion band Weather Report are in for quite a surprise. While Vitous was the original bassist for that band, he prefers the subtlety of the acoustic instrument over the volume of the bass guitar. Using his original conception of early Weather Report as a jumping off point, he explores dedicated music and original compositions in the company of Franco Ambrosetti on trumpet, Gary Campbell on tenor saxophone, Michel Portal on bass clarinet and Gerald Cleaver on drums. The first two compositions are dedications and they are two the of the most interesting performances on the album. "Variations on Wayne Shorter" uses the great saxophonist and composer's work (particularly "Nefertiti") as a jumping off point for an enigmatic and mysterious improvisation. "Variations on Lonely Woman" takes the beautiful and haunting theme of the classic Ornette Coleman composition and moves it into an improvisational statement of quiet longing, a plea of desperation that is quite affecting musically. "Semina (In 3 Parts)" is a suite that builds slowly around Viouts' bowed bass and Cleaver's agile drumming, the horns eventually move in to stake their claim during an unpredictable performance. "Surfing with Michel" features Portal's hollow and woody sounding bass clarinet in a duet with the leader. "When Dvorák Meets Miles" was an interesting performance as well, moving from the haunting and eerie vibe that pervades most of the album. Vitous' sawing bow work combining with the punchy trumpet of Abrbosetti was a beguilling sound.I found that this album took a great deal of patience to come to grips with, but I really liked their take on the Ornette and Shorter's music, as the group certainly brought an original conception to it. If you enjoy spare, thoughtful music with classical overtones, this is definitely for you. It is atmospheric in the extreme, like the cloud shrouded sky of its cover.
Remembering Weather Report - amazon.com

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