Rafi Zabor’s Updoc, Fri 12/11 & Tues 12/15


How many jazz-rock fusion groups of the 70s and 80s can you stand to listen to today? I can wait while you’re thinking . . . Well anyway, Joe Zawinul, who also said he wasn’t afraid of Beethoven, always said that Weather report wasn’t ‘fusing’ anything, just playing its collective ass off. Obviously they were a cut above the rest. Now we’ve got a four-CD set of soi-disant ‘legendary’ live performances recorded off the mixing board between 1978 and 1981, featuring the band with Jaco Pastorious and Peter Erskine, on some cuts Bobby Thomas Jr. On this week’s Updoc—Friday at 8 PM and noon next Tuesday, Birdland time—I followed my druthers and pulled three medium-long tracks that seemed to feature the most vociferous and supercharged Wayne Shorter solos. The show also features Arturo O’Farrill’s four-movement big-band Cuban-American suite, the complex writing of which seems to have pressured new exertions from its featured soloist, the usually indomitable Rudresh Mahanthappa. For relief there’s Schubert’s last String Quartet, which is supposed to be in G Major even though intimations of the composer’s early death drench the opening movement in the minor mode and nettle the way with tremolos and disjunctions. The swing to daylight in the later movements is heroically achieved, after which there’s more Reporting of the Weather, ending with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and Cecile McLorin Salvant wishing you a merry little Christmas when I still have a few Hanukkah candles left to burn. Light the light you’ve got and drop in when you’ve got a minute.

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