CK 39908 Sportin' Life
Produced by Zawinul/Wayne Shorter
Released on March 1985
US CHART POSITION #191 . . . US JAZZ CHART POSITION #13
Find it at GEMM
CK 39908 cover
[high resolution scan]

K ronomyth 15.0: NOT FIT TO CARRY JACO’S STRAP. The last Weather Report album to feature Wayne Shorter’s full-time participation, Sportin’ Life finds Zawinul exploring increasingly disjointed melodies mixed with world music elements and voices. Not quite as daunting as Frank Zappa’s Jazz From Hell, but in the same demented ballpark. A few anomalies pop up: an acoustic pop song sung by Mino Cinelu in Antillean Creole (“Confians”), an enervated cover of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and a ballad from Wayne Shorter with minimal accompaniment (“Face On The Barroom Floor”). The opening moments—four voices singing sped-up cartoonese—are fair warning that Zawinul intends to head down some strange avenues with this album. After a while, you’ll be able to find the swing in songs like “Corner Pocket” and “Pearl On The Half-Shell,” though even here the rewards are limited. The synthesizer sounds employed by Zawinul had grown increasingly irregular, antithetical almost to the soul of jazz. In such a setting, Shorter’s sax often sounds out of place. The equally irregular drumming of Omar Hakim supports it, even as elements like steel drums seem a distraction. For the envelope pushers among us, Sportin’ Life will have its spectators; Zawinul is still too magnetic a force to be ignored. However, you rarely encounter anyone who ranks it among their favorites. My own impression is that Zawinul had wandered too far into the woods, now lost among the reeds of swampy self-indulgence. He may have been in search of a new musical language, like cubism, yet Weather Report was no longer the right vehicle for such a journey. Tellingly, Zawinul all but ended the band by releasing his first solo album in 15 years, Di-a-lects.

CK 399080 back sleeve
CK 399080 back sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. CORNER POCKET    (Zawinul)    5:43
  2. INDISCRETIONS    (Zawinul)    4:03
  3. HOT CARGO    (Zawinul)    4:38
  4. CONFIANS    (Mino Cinelu)    5:03
  5. PEARL ON THE HALF-SHELL    (Wayne Shorter)    4:04
  6. WHAT'S GOING ON    (Marvin Gaye/Al Cleveland/Renaldo Benson)    6:26
  7. FACE ON THE BARROOM FLOOR    (Wayne Shorter)    3:55
  8. ICE-PICK WILLY    (Zawinul)    4:56

CREDITS

VICTOR BAILEY -- bass, background vocals
MINO CINELU -- percussion, lead vocal, acoustic guitar, bass
OMAR HAKIM -- drums, background vocals
WAYNE SHORTER -- saxophones
ZAWINUL -- synthesizers
Carl Anderson -- vocals
Dee Dee Bellson -- vocals
Bobby McFerrin -- vocals
Alfie Silas -- vocals
Howard Siegel -- engineer
Bernie Fromm -- additional engineering
Peter Kelsey -- additional engineering
Jerry McDonald -- album artwork
Tony Lane, Nancy McDonald -- art direction
Hideo Kuwahara -- photography

return to WEATHER REPORT discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US March 1985 Columbia LP FC-39908  
US 1985 Columbia CD/CS CK/CT-39908  
UK 1985 CBS LP 26367  
JPN 1985 CBS/Sony LP 28AP-3027  
JPN 2007 Sony CD SICP-1254 digital remaster

 

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