‘Mysterious Traveller’ is the title of the fourth studio album released by the legendary American jazz fusion band Weather Report in early 1974 through Columbia Records. The LP was recorded between November 1973 and March 1974 at Devonshire Sound studio in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. It has a total length of 48 minutes and 17 seconds.
‘Mysterious Traveller’ also the last Weather Report studio album to feature founding member and bassist Miroslav Vitouš who parted ways with the group given a series of conceptual disparities. He is only featured on track number two of the album (although the future remastered version of the record by Mastersound SBM includes a bonus song entitled ‘Miroslav’s Tune’ which he had composed as well) and so it can be well said that, de facto, the last Weather Report studio album to have featured Miroslav on bass is actually the predecessor of ‘Mysterious Traveller’, more specifically ‘Sweetnighter‘, issued one year before in 1973. For most of the recording sessions of the album, incoming member Alphonso Johnson replaced Vitouš on electric bass, whereas the latter only performed on acoustic bass for this record.
Another incoming member, also part of the rhythm section, fulfilled the position of drummer, more specifically Greg Errico. ‘Mysterious Traveller’ is the band’s first album to have incorporated elements of funk, rhythm and blues as well as rock into its overall sound which was later preserved as a hallmark for subsequent Weather Report studio albums released throughout the 1970s.
Critically, the LP was very well met by, most notably, the prestigious jazz-based DownBeat magazine whose readers voted it as the album of the year. Aside from DownBeat, the album was also very well received by AllMusic (which gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars), Sputnikmusic (which gave it 4 out of 5 stars), The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide (highest mark possible, well deserved and rightfully so, more specifically 5 out of 5 stars) as well as The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (also highest mark possible, well deserved and rightfully so once again, namely 4 out of 4 stars).
The tracklist of the album is as follows:
- Nubian Sundance [live] (composed by Joe Zawinul);
- American Tango (composed by Miroslav Vitouš and Zawinul);
- Cucumber Slumber (composed by Alphonso Johnson and Joe Zawinul);
- Mysterious Traveller (composed by Wayne Shorter);
- Blackthorn Rose (composed by Wayne Shorter);
- Scarlet Woman (composed by Alphonso Johnson, Wayne Shorter, and Joe Zawinul);
- Jungle Book (composed by Joe Zawinul).
The recording personnel was as follows:
- Joe Zawinul – acoustic piano, electric piano, synthesizer, guitar, kalimba, organ, tamboura, clay drum, tack piano, melodica;
- Wayne Shorter – soprano & tenor saxophone, tack piano;
- Miroslav Vitouš – acoustic bass (solely on track which he also co-written);
- Alphonso Johnson – electric bass/bass guitar on all other tracks except track 2;
- Ishmael Wilburn – drums;
- Skip Hadden – occasional drums (solely on tracks 1 and 4);
- Dom Um Romão (whom I like to refer in Romanian as ‘Domn’ Um Romão – i.e. Mr. Dom Romão) – percussion and drums on all other tracks except where previously noted.
Aside from the recording personnel proper, there have also been numerous other guest musicians who have contributed for the creation of the album.
The technical personnel was as follows:
- Ron Malo – sound engineer;
- Teresa Alfieri – cover artwork/design;
- Helmut K. Wimmer – cover artwork/design.
On a personal note, I can distinctly recall the great and most positive impact this album had on me while I was a second year full-time away BSc student in ‘Medialogy’ (short for ‘Media Technology’) at Aalborg University (AAU) in Aalborg, Denmark, during a period of recovery from some past harsh physical illnesses and ailments (i.e. kidney stones and chronic gastritis). Weather Report turned out to be one of the best cures for me during my convalescence and it definitely greatly helped me get back on track.
Needless to say that I actually knew ‘Mysterious Traveller’ since I was a kid. To make a long story short, one of my uncles had a van and back in my hometown, Suceava in northeastern Romania, he used to drive around town along with me and my cousins. And, of course, he used to listen to Weather Report before me (or us, for that matter) and often put the great opener ‘Nubian Sundance’ when he started to drive. For some odd way of reason, one of my cousins didn’t enjoy this song but I sure did and sure do know, some 20 years fast forward (and I will definitely enjoy it very much in the future as well, absolutely, whenever I’ll be revisiting this brilliant jazz fusion masterpiece).
Last but not least, the album charted very high on US Jazz Albums, topping at position number 2. Down below you can listen to the entire album via Youtube. Enjoy and all the best! Thank you very much for your attention, time, and readership! I am very grateful to you for all them! Thank you so much for visiting The Rockpedia! Cheers!
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