Weather Report

Weather Report was an American jazz fusion band active from 1970 to 1986. The band was founded in 1970 by Austrian keyboardist Joe Zawinul, American saxophonist Wayne Shorter, Czech bassist Miroslav Vitouš, American drummer Alphonse Mouzon as well as American percussionists Don Alias and Barbara Burton. The band was initially co-led by co-frontmen Zawinul and Shorter but, subsequently as the 1970s progressed, Zawinul largely became the sole musical leader of the group. Other prominent members at various points in the band’s lifespan included Jaco Pastorius, Alphonso Johnson, Victor Bailey, Chester Thompson, Peter Erskine, Airto Moreira, and Alex Acuña. Throughout most of its existence, the band was a quintet consisting of Zawinul, Shorter, a bass guitarist, a drummer, and a percussionist.

The band started as a free improvising jazz group with avant-garde and experimental electronic leanings (pioneered by Zawinul); when Vitouš left Weather Report (due mostly to creative disagreements), Zawinul increasingly steered the band towards a funky, edgy sound incorporating elements of R&B and native musics from around the world. Zawinul used the latest developments in synthesizer technology, and he took advantage of a large variety of sounds and tone colors to make the band stand out. During the first half of their career, Weather Report were seen as one of the defining acts in modern jazz, winning the DownBeat “best album award” five times in a row.

Alongside bands such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters (all with members inspired by and partially responsible for the fusion-era work of Miles Davis), Weather Report is widely considered one of the defining bands of the jazz fusion genre.

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