December 2001

Jason Miles/Various Artists - Celebrating the Music of Weather Report
Telarc Surround DVD-A-73473
Released: 2001

by Jeff Fritz

Musical Performance ****1/2
Recording Quality ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2

[Reviewed on DVD-A]It’s hard to believe Weather Report was formed over 30 years ago -- 1970 to be exact. You certainly don’t hear a dated note when listening to this jazz-funk-fusion DVD-Audio disc. Weather Report’s music has been labeled "ahead of its time" for some time now, but to me this is the right stuff right now.

A deep bass line underscores a combination of keyboards, saxophones, trumpets, guitars and just about every other instrument you can imagine to weave a funky, imaginative, and elegant arrangement of this classic material. It has that clean, contemporary feel that gets you moving to the music, and with enough going on to keep you involved.

"Birdland’ gets you started and sets the mood, only to slow you down with the relaxed, groovy "Cannonball," where you’ll hear David Sanborn’s alto saxophone, Jason Miles' keyboards, and Victor Bailey’s bass. Expect the unexpected as you listen to the compilation all the way through, and hear some fine musicianship along the way. This is studio material, so don’t expect an airy, live sound, but do expect clarity and warmth of tone, filled out just right with a lot of texture.

The Telarc DVD-A disc is simply packed with stuff. You get a DVD-V program with both Dolby Digital and DTS tracks (for those without DVD-A facilities), and a DVD-A layer that is surely the one to listen to. Its audio quality is excellent, with aggressive use (though not distractingly so) of the surrounds and enough depth to the bass to require the use of a full-range audio system for maximum enjoyment. There’s also a 96kHz/24-bit stereo track.

I’ve listened to this disc thoroughly many times and keep going back. It hooks you all right, on many levels. If you want to hear a wide assortment of prominent jazz artists, in a creative, exotic multichannel arrangement -- and also take in a group’s work that was ahead of its time -- this fine-sounding disc is the ticket.