Weather Report: Mr. Gone


Mr. Gone


Weather Report


Mr. Gone (Columbia Legacy CK 46869)

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Joe Zawinul (keyboards, Oberheim bass), Tony Williams (drums),

Wayne Shorter (tenor sax), Jaco Pastorius (bass)


Composed by Josef Zawinul


Recorded: North Hollywood, CA, May 1978


Rating: 94/100 (learn more)

Scores of jazz and fusion fans hated this album. Down Beat gave it one lonely star. Even many Weather Report fans despised it. At best, Mr. Gone was called an experiment that did not work. Zawinul later acknowledged that mostly it was him tinkering with his gadgets in the studio trying to get new sounds.

At the time, I heard the title cut on the radio and dug it enough to get the album, the rest of which sucked. But over the years, every once in a while, I would pull out the record, now a CD, and listen to that one track. Electronic sequencing was not yet available, but Zawinul made impressive use of the primitive tools of his day. After an initial foray into ambient noise, Zawinul kicks in with the Oberheim Bass. The infectious bassline and accompanying synthesized elements sound like a robotic marching band. I don't mean a bunch of stiff marchers. I mean actual robots marching. The melody is hidden in a sinister groove. The tune becomes hypnotic. Improvisation seems barely existent. Williams uses his brushes on cymbals to add a little color. Despite the listed credits, Wayne Shorter and Jaco Pastorius cannot be heard. This is really Joe Zawinul in charge. He is the ultimate drum major.

For this review, I re-listened to the album in its entirety. I found myself quite liking it. It is actually very creative. Sure, a vocal or two could be dropped. But Mr. Gone no longer sucks. The music hasn't changed. I have. Maybe you have, too.

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 bobbie vale // Feb 22, 2008 at 11:57 PM
    is this the song with the "if the shoe fits" it was a favorite of my brother who's no longer with us. i've seacherd for years. to no avail. can you help?? i would be very happy if you can, i think the those are the only lyrics on that paticular cut.
  • 2 Walter kolosky // Mar 02, 2008 at 09:11 PM
    Hi Bobbie, I don't remember those lyrics. When I get a chance, I will re-listen to the album to see if I can hear them. Thanks for taking the time to read this review.
  • 3 David Walker // Aug 24, 2008 at 11:37 PM
    Would you happen to know how Wayne Shorter got the nickname "Mr. Gone"? What it because he was just always out there? Or is there a story behind the nickname? I'm seeing Wayne at Yoshi's in Oakland, CA in a few weeks. Thanks in advance for any insight into this mystery. ~David Oakland, CA USA
  • 4 David Walker // Aug 24, 2008 at 11:49 PM
    THE ANSWER TO MY QUESTION In 1978 Weather Report released an album called Mr. Gone, named for a Zawinul composition with a synthesized bass line that called to mind a shadowy figure entering and leaving a room before anyone knew he was there. Shorter was barely audible, on this number or much of the rest of the album, and many listeners believed that the title referred to his diminished role in the group. Zawinul has always denied this, but "Mr. Gone" became Shorter's (unwanted) nickname. It also fit him in a more flattering way: "gone" was a bebop-era superlative meaning "out of this world," and jive talk of that sort never really goes out of fashion in jazz. ("I have found the gonest little girl in the world," Jack Kerouac wrote in On the Road, and Nellie Lutcher had a hit in 1947 with a song called "He's a Real Gone Guy.")
  • 5 Walter Kolosky // Sep 17, 2008 at 01:19 PM
    Sorry Bobby, I can never seem to find the time to get that answer for you. My intentions were good but my cup runneth over...Does anyone else know? Interesting story David. I hope you enjoyed Wayne.