Night Passage

Night Passage

Following a string of wildly ambitious and experimental albums, Weather Report reined themselves in and started the '80s with the humble Night Passage. A fairly relaxed and introspective work, Night Passage reintegrated the talents of Wayne Shorter, whose role in the group had been slowly obscured by the dueling rocketry of Joe Zawinul and Jaco Pastorius. “Night Passage,” “Dream Clock,” and “Three Views of a Secret” are sensual but sad, reviving the stripped-down, elegiac playing of the bop generation. In many of these performances Shorter plays the lonely wanderer, brooding alone in the nighttime city, as Zawinul and Pastorius manifest the atmospheric mist that floats above the sidewalks. The band nod to an even earlier jazz tradition with a cover of Duke Ellington’s “Rockin’ in Rhythm,” giving Pastorius the opportunity to deliver a swingtime solo on his electric bass—the kind of sound about which Ellington’s long-deceased wunderkind bassist Jimmy Blanton could have only dreamed. On the whole, the album is a touching show of humility from a group of master musicians who realized that being powerful isn’t necessarily a matter of playing more notes.

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