Miroslav Vitous: Variations on W. Shorter
Variations on W. Shorter
Miroslav Vitous (bass)
Remembering Weather Report (ECM 2073)
Michel Portal (bass clarinet), Gary Campbell (tenor sax).
Composed by Miroslav Vitous.
Recorded: Fall 2006 and Spring 2007
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
The forward-thinking bassist from Prague recreates the spirit of the original incarnation of Weather Report, if not the actual songs of that early era of the seminal jazz-rock band. A more accurate title for this tune might be “Variations On Nefertiti,” the Wayne Shorter song famously recorded by the Miles Davis Quintet in 1967. Quotes from the hypnotic, circular melody are interspersed throughout this performance by all musicians except Cleaver, but no one ever quite completes the circle.
As it was during WR’s 1970-72 period, this band tears down the walls separating the rhythm section and the front line, with each performer assuming equal parts in a musical democracy pioneered by that incarnation of WR. Cleaver never keeps time, instead using his kit to provide waves of percussion that melds into the tapestry of the tonal instruments. Vitous himself plays with randomized vigor, oscillating between plucked and bowed bass at multiple points throughout the track, and without causing any disruption.
The spare, murky sound produced by Vitous’ group is a far cry from what his old group later became, but what it lacked in structure and groove, it more than made up in freedom, direct communication between players and unpredictability. That holds true even when Vitous recycles an old song from his ex-bandmate that wasn’t originally conceived to be used in that way.
Reviewer: S. Victor Aaron