Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

Early Shepard by the ART; bold BSO season; jazz-fusion at Berklee; Weather Report

Heard a lot of music in my lifetime, but somehow it all sounds the same. Is there a sound to choose, one that's never been used by anyone, anywhere?m - From ''Can It Be Done,'' the ''Domino Theory'' album, Weather Report, 1984

Unsung, elusive melodies can find their way into the air. The jazz-fusion group Weather Report proved just that in its April 11 performance at Berklee Performance Center. The debut of new sounds swept through the auditorium and shattered the jazz sound barrier with raw, untempered energy.

About these ads

Testing the peripheries of avant-garde jazz, the group flaunted an impressive musical vocabulary - one that has grown exponentially over the years, and has done so with ingenuity. (Weather Report has won Downbeat jazz magazine's International Critic's Poll award for 13 consecutive years.) This performance was no exception.

Yet the group maintained a cohesive, comprehensible sound so often lost by groups in the throes of experimental music. It punched away at tight, solid rhythms with offbeat riffs and unexpected shifts in musical character.

''Swamp Cabbage,'' a piece from the recently released ''Domino Theory'' album , incorporated synthesized jungle sounds and bird wails. ''D-flat Waltz'' hung the audience in suspense while the music faded out, then returned with a startling jolt. Throughout the concert, odd notes and riffs cropped up in rare musical humor.

Garbed in his customary rainbow-colored beanie, Austrian-born keyboardist/composer Josef Zawinul performed with daring and sometimes wizardry. His imaginative hand on the synthesizer gave the concert a vibrant dimension.

If Zawinul was the sour, saxophonist Wayne Shorter was the sweet musical contrast. Shorter, an ''old school'' recruit from the shores of Miles Davis and Art Blakely, washed over the audience with a barrage of sensitive notes.

Although it's dubious whether their present style can produce the kind of popular jazz hits they did in the 1970s, this concert showed Weather Report's music as never more refined and textured. My only regret - the performance never reached the crescendo promised by its bold beginnings.

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.