Weather Report: Blackthorn Rose
Mysterious Traveller (Columbia CK 32494)
Recorded: North Hollywood, CA, February-May 1974
Rating: 92/100 (learn more)
Wayne Shorter's "Blackthorn Rose" is a beautiful duet performed with Josef Zawinul. The first part of the tune is a mournful ballad. As the song evolves it becomes more abstract. Shorter's fluttering soprano sax volleys float above Zawinul's staccato piano chords. Zawinul puts periods, question marks and exclamation points on the end of Shorter's exploratory lines. The simpatico between the two masters is sublime. My guess is that a performance like this would yield appreciative but mild applause from a Weather Report fusion crowd. This tune did not require banks of electronics and the mastery of pages of complicated notation that many jazz-rock fans were expecting. Instead it required something much more intrinsic to good music and especially a good duet. Shorter and Zawinul had a deep understanding of each other's musical sensibilities. These guys could have been playing a wooden flute and a toy keyboard and they still would have meshed brilliantly. Sometimes the most understated message says the most.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky