With “The Chop House,” we explore classic performances from bands with — you know — “chops.” Genres like progressive rock, art-rock, jazz-fusion — they’re nearly extinct in our current music culture. These days, we live (and consume art) impatiently, favoring a quick fix over a challenge. But here at Hidden Track, we refuse to let the dazzling, confrontational spirit of these wonderful bands die.
Weather Report is the definitive jazz-fusion band, and this incredible 1976 concert (recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival) is proof.
The band were arguably at their creative peak in ’76, riding high after the recently released Black Market, their first LP to feature bass virtuoso Jaco Pastorius. Weather Report’s classic line-up was officially cemented, with percussionist Alex Acuña moving over to drums (to replace the departing Chester Thompson) and new recruit Manola Badrena stepping into Acuna’s old spot. Of course, the band’s core duo (keyboardist Joe Zawinul and saxophonist Wayne Shorter) remained in tow, rounding out a line-up capable of conjuring elegant atmosphere, feisty experimentation, and blunt force.
The concert is heavy on Black Market tracks (the funky title-track is propulsive highlight), but the set is quite eclectic, featuring a smoothly elegant take on “Scarlet Woman,” a lengthy drum/percussion duet between Acuña and Badrena (later showing up in abbreviated form as “Rumba Mama” on their 1977 masterpiece, Heavy Weather), and a lovely improvised piano/saxophone duet between Zawinul and Shorter.
Full Line-Up: Joe Zawinul (Fender Rhodes, keyboards, synthesizers, piano), Wayne Shorter (tenor and soprano saxophones), Jaco Pastorius (bass), Alex Acuña (drums), Manolo Badrena (percussion)
00:00 Elegant People
07:00 Scarlet Woman
15:30 Barbary Coast
25:10 Portrait of Tracy
30:00 Cannon Ball
36:40 Black Market
47:00 Rumba Mama (Drum and Percussion Duet)
53:30 Piano and Saxophone Duet
58:00 Dr. Honoris Causa/Directions