1973’s Sweetnighter was a transitional album for Weather Report, as the formerly pensive and open-ended outfit mutated into a fearsome funk-jazz juggernaut. Propelled by the percussive atmospherics of Muruga Booker and Dom Um Romao and the greasy keyboard stylings of Joe Zawinul, songs like “Boogie Woogie Waltz” and “125th Street Congress” have as much in common with Earth, Wind & Fire and Isaac Hayes as they do with Miles Davis. Except for Wayne Shorter’s elegiac “Manolete”—a cinematic theme reminiscent of Davis’ Sketches of Spain—the band’s melodic sensibility was being subjugated by all-consuming rhythmic passion. The music’s restless, metamorphic tone mirrors the changes occurring within the group. Zawinul was taking more control, giving Wayne Shorter less to do. Original bassist Miroslav Vitous only appears on half the album and would soon be exiled entirely. Vitous’ “Will” is one of the last great songs from the original Weather Report lineup. Textural and pensive, it reanimates the mood of the group’s early days but is nonetheless drenched in the cosmic goo of Zawinul’s keys.

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