Classic fourth album from Weather report gets a 24 bit brush up.
Colin Buttimer 2002
Mysterious Traveller was Weather Report's fourth studio album and the successor to Sweetnighter, I Sing The Body Electric and the eponymous first album (Live In Tokyo was only recently released in full outside Japan).
"Nubian Sundance" kicks in hard with two drummers and a percussionist, but there's a curious feeling of suspension, akin to watching Muybridge's horse forever galloping but never moving forward. On top of this, bass, a lot of Rhodes, synthesizers, crowd sounds and vocals create a wonderful impression of a neon-lit rainforest peopled by Rio carnival celebrants.
After the festival comes "American Tango"; a more reflective pace like wandering in the shadows of a Mediterranean sidestreet, the keyboard melody languorous as sleepy sex in morning sunlight. "Cucumber Slumber" (what great titles they had!) is all electric bass, sax, Rhodes and chugging drums.
"Mysterious Traveller" slips in spookily then revs up to a rhythmic workout that recalls Sweetnighter. After all the colour and wonderful grandstanding of the previous four tracks, the acoustic duet of "Blackthorn Rose" between Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul arrives like a welcome, meditative oasis.
"Scarlet Woman" steals in with a plangent sax call, muted desert drum and synthesized wind and slowly steals away again. The album closes with the reflective "Jungle Book", as if recalling the events of a long hot day after the sun has set.
On Mysterious Traveller Weather Report were clearly growing, employing a wider palette of sounds, conjuring different moods: the music is sunnier, more upbeat, colourful and funky than its predecessors.
On attentive (re)listening I finally get the album's form and flow and can place it alongside its predecessors to be enjoyed for its own generous wonders. Not worth buying for the remastering alone,but if you don't own this album go get! (I'm off to investigate its successors.)