Weather Report: Teen Town


Teen Town


Weather Report


Heavy Weather (Columbia CK 47481)

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Joe Zawinul (keyboards), Wayne Shorter (soprano sax), Jaco Pastorius (bass, drums),

Manolo Badrena (congas)


Composed by Jaco Pastorius


Recorded: North Hollywood, CA, 1977


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

It's a funny thing about a lot of us jazz-fusion fans. We can be somewhat contrarian when it comes to the success of musicians we admire. On the one hand, we want this music we love to sell millions of copies so that these artists can live a comfortable life. On the other hand, if their music becomes too popular we suspect they have sold out to the watered-down tastes of the unwashed masses. Heavy Weather is a case in point. Its huge radio hit was "Birdland," which later had a second life when Manhattan Transfer scored a cover hit by adding vocals. But many fusion diehards like me always dismissed the tune. Objectively, it is a remarkably crafted fusion instrumental. But logic has nothing to do with this picture. It is about fusion cred, a quality "Birdland" never had.

"Teen Town," by contrast, has cred to spread. True, it lacks the structural charm of "Birdland." For all intents and purposes, the tune exists as a vanity workout for its composer, bassist Jaco Pastorius. Joe Zawinul adds nothing much more than keyboard textures, while saxophonist Wayne Shorter offers short bursts of punctuation. Jaco even plays drums. Yet for me, listening to these historic players searching for the right sound is much more enjoyable than glomming onto a fusion tune that somehow found the right formula to appeal to everybody and his brother. I am sorry. That is just the way it is.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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Related Links

In Conversation with Wayne Shorter by Bob Blumenthal
The Dozens: Twelve Essential Wayne Shorter Performances by Matt Miller
”Wayne Shorter” by Matt Miller (from The Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians)
”Joe Zawinul” by Jared Pauley (from The Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians)

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  • 1 jonnie // Apr 09, 2009 at 09:50 PM
    i have a vocal version of Teentown if anybody's looking for one. i penned it fairly naturally as a tribute.. easy on the sugar though, and the lyric treats on Jaco and the youth club (TT) he describes in an interview. Teen town is interesting for me in the way it gets hold of basically what appears to be a fairly standard r 'n b groove and abstracts the very funk out of it speeding it up mach 7. the guy was 'de'/'reconstructing' way before any post modern wiseass ever thought of the term..!! Meanwhile the eponymous first album still hits all the spots. and i'm a dalmatian..