Records by Weather Report were frequently found on the lists of noted critics and musicians answering the question, “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz record albums of the 1970’s?”
“Reminiscing in Tempo” is part of a continuing effort to provide Jerry Jazz Musician readers with unique forms of “edu-tainment.” As often as possible, Jerry Jazz Musician poses one question via e mail to a small number of prominent and diverse people. The question is designed to provoke a lively response that will potentially include the memories and/or opinion of those solicited.
Since it is not possible to know who will answer the question, the diversity of the participants will often depend on factors beyond the control of the publisher. The responses from the people who chose to participate in this edition are published below with only minor stylistic editing. No follow-up questions take place.
Our previous edition asked the question of a variety of noted critics and musicians, “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz record albums of the 1960’s?“ Because the question was popular with our participants and our readers, we decided to ask the same question of the 1970’s, and even posed the question to many of the same people.
In this edition, we ask the question:
“What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz record albums of the 1970’s?”
(Many thanks to all of our participants. Readers are invited to share their own lists by using the comments field at the conclusion of this feature)
In the ‘70s, I was doing more recording than listening, but here are some of my favorites of the era. I left off projects with which I was involved although I’m pretty happy with some of those.
Tony Williams Lifetime – Turn It Over (Polydor)
This was a most amazing and innovative band that was completely overlooked. “Vuelta Abajo” is a perfection. Larry Young, Tony and McLaughlin forged a real fusion of jazz and rock (as opposed to R & B or funk).
McCoy Tyner – Extensions (Blue Note)
McCoy was one of the freshest and most consistent recording artists in the ‘70s. I picked this one because Wayne Shorter and Gary Bartz solo so magnificently.
Charles Mingus – Changes One/Changes Two (Atlantic)
Mingus had an inspired burst of composing in 1974. This is also the year he was reunited with Dannie Richmond and the great band with Don Pullen, George Adams and Jack Walrath crystallized.
Hank Jones – Bop Redux (Muse)
This was the decade that Hank Jones finally got to record the brilliant trio music that everyone knew he was capable of. This is one of my favorites because of the classic bop compositions he chose to explore.
Weather Report – I Sing The Body Electric (Columbia)
This band just kept growing and evolving. It’s hard to single out one album, but this one was so richly textured and innovative that it has special memories for me.
Read Cuscuna’s response to the question “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz albums of the 1960’s?” by clicking here
Grammy nominated recording artist; pianist, singer, arranger, songwriter
I couldn’t limit my choices to four favorite albums. Here are seven:
Bill Evans New Conversations — 1978
Bill Evans Intuition — 1974
Elis Regina and Antonio Carlos Jobin Elis & Tom — 1974
Joao Gilberto Amoroso — 1976
Keith Jarrett Facing You — 1971
Herbie Hancock Head Hunters — 1973
Weather Report Heavy Weather — 1977
Recording artist, saxophonist, founding member of Spyro Gyra
Black Market – Weather Report
Weather Report was doing this incredible fusion of so many elements and incorporation of all sorts of world music which was enormously important in my development as a musician. In fact, when I made my one solo album, it was important to me to put a version of the song “Black Market” on it, daunting as that was to attempt.
Bitches Brew – Miles Davis
Bitches Brew opened a new door musically for a lot of musicians. Actually, it might be more accurate to say that it broke the door down. There are Miles Davis albums from earlier years that I did like more but I have to include this record and Miles because he was the father of funk/jazz and of so many elements that would crop up in my music over and over again.
Headhunters – Herbie Hancock
Headhunters was a record that showed me how a musician who was steeped in traditional jazz could transition with great ease and brilliance to other forms of jazz and be equally brilliant. I can’t tell you how many times I played “Chameleon” and “Watermelon Man.”
Red Clay – Freddie Hubbard
I was fortunate to meet Freddie when he was still physically strong and an incredible player. That was before he went through some very difficult times later in life. I think it’s important to remember how great he was and how incredible he sounded. This record was another seminal influence that helped me find my own direction.
I got a little carried away, but I wouldn’t know which to eliminate.
In the early 1970s, many of the most astonishing albums were discoveries of unknown performances from earlier eras; they played such a profound role in understanding jazz in that period that I’ve chosen one (Clifford Brown) to stand in for all of them. The rest are a few glorious stops in a momentous era that combined Loft Era rapprochements across time and genres, the reemergence of old masters, and the promise of great daring to come. I’m limiting myself to 25, in no order at all.
Duke Ellington, The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse. (Or The Latin American Suite, but it was mostly recorded in the 1960s, or This One’s for Blanton, duets with Ray Brown.)
Ornette Coleman, Skies of America. (Symphonic Ornette.)
Thelonious Monk, The Black Lion solo session as remastered by Acoustic Sounds: The London Collection, Vol.1.
Beaver Harris, From Ragtime to No Time. (The very title was a call to arms.)
David Murray, Flowers for Albert. (A modest beginning.)
Art Ensemble of Chicago, Les Stances A Sophie. (Or Nice Guys.)
Jaki Byard, Sunshine of My Soul. (Recorded live, and unknown till 2007.)
Air, Air Lore. (Deconstructing Jelly Roll Morton.)
Julius Hemphill, Dogon. A D. (Updating the Saint Louis blues.)
Dave Holland with Anthony Braxton, Conference of the Birds. (Disarmingly charming.)
Cecil Taylor: Spring of Two Blue J’s. (Or 3 Phasis, which unleashed Shannon Jackson, or Dark to Themselves, which ushered in David S. Ware.)
Jack DeJohnette with David Murray and Arthur Blythe, Special Edition. (Or any entry in the Special Edition series.)
Marvin Hannibal Peterson: Children of the Fire (Little heard and unjustly neglected. )
Art Pepper: Straight Life. (Marking his real return.)
Gil Evans, Svengali (Or The Gil Evans Orchestra Plays the Music of Jimi Hendrix.)
George Russell, New York Big Band. (This is Mr. Lydian all-in, as they say, but Vertical Form VI is also choice.)
Sarah Vaughan, How Long Has This Been Going On? (A Pablo all-stars masterpiece.)
Sam Rivers, Crystals. (The first time we knew what he could do with an orchestra.)
Sonny Stitt, Constellation. (Pure bebop for purists.)
Hank Jones, Ron Carter, Tony Williams: Kindness, Joy, Love, and Happiness. (Or any of the Great Jazz Trio albums.)
Jimmie Rowles with Stan Getz, The Peacocks. (Stan presented the subtly surprising Rowles.)
Arthur Blythe, Blythe Spirit (Or Illusions, but this one is more varied and down home.)
Dexter Gordon with Barry Harris, Biting the Apple. (The Columbias heralded the great homecoming, but for playing, this is Blue Note level.)
Count Basie and Zoot Sims, Basie & Zoot. (Swing squared.)
Clifford Brown, The Beginning and the End. (Absolutely.)
Read Giddins’ response to the question “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz albums of the 1960’s?” by clicking here
Recording artist, pianist, composer; currently artist-in-residence at New York University
Miles Davis, In s Silent Way
Keith Jarrett, Mourning of a Star and Facing You
Herbie Hancock, Head Hunters
Author, critic, journalist, jazz historian; in 2014 received the Lifetime Achievement In Jazz Award from the Jazz Journalists Association
Here are four of my favorite jazz albums of the 1970s:
Earl Hines/Joe Venuti; duets, Hot Sonatas (Chiaroscuro) 1975
Wild Bill Davison, Bob Wilber, Eddie Hubble, Ralph Sutton, Isla Eckinger, Cliff Leeman; The Chicago Jazz Giants Live! (MPS Records) 1977
Mary Lou Williams; Live at the Cookery (Chiaroscuro) 1975
Art Ensemble Of Chicago; Kabalaba: Live At Montreux Jazz Festival (AECO Records)1978
Drama critic of The Wall Street Journal and the author of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong and Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington. Satchmo at the Waldorf, his first play, ran off Broadway earlier this year
It was in the ’70s that I started playing jazz bass professionally. Here are five of the albums that meant the most to me back then:
• Miles Davis, Jack Johnson (Columbia, 1971)
• Stan Getz, Captain Marvel (Columbia, 1972)
• Gary Burton and Ralph Towner, Matchbook (ECM, 1974)
• Pat Metheny, Bright Size Life (ECM, 1975)
• Paul Desmond, The Paul Desmond Quartet Live (Horizon, 1975)
I still listen to all of them with undiminished pleasure today.
Read Teachout’s response to the question “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz albums of the 1960’s?” by clicking here
Three from the ‘70s that I wouldn’t be without:
Charles Mingus, Let My Children Hear Music, 1971. This is not only Mingus’s masterpiece, which he acknowledged on the jacket of the LP, but Sy Johnson’s. Sy arranged all but three pieces, which Charles did not acknowledge. This is deep, complex, multilayered jazz played by as many as thirty musicians (again, unacknowledged). Mingus employed everything from circus sound effects to echoes of Richard Strauss, creating a swinging, roiling cauldron of music like no other jazz record.
Chick Corea, Piano Improvisations, Vol. 1, 1971. Before Return to Forever and his other forays into fusion with the Miles Davis bands, Chick Corea showed his abilities as a wonderfully innovative pianist here. He moved jazz into deeply personal territory with these compositions, playing with modes, fourths, Latin music, fine melodies. I hear the influence of Debussy’s Preludes strongly. “Sometime Ago” and the eight-part suite “Where Are You Now?” are unmistakably Chick.
Dexter Gordon, Homecoming, 1977. This double album for Columbia marked for me a peak in straight-ahead jazz for the ‘70s. No one played this stuff better than Dexter, and this document of his return from Copenhagen to New York and the Village Vanguard showed him at the top of his game. He joined a very compatible group featuring trumpeter Woody Shaw. Up-tempos predominate, but “Fenja,” which Dexter wrote for his then-wife, shows off his fine lyrical side. His later wife Maxine details the homecoming here.
Read Goodman’s response to the question “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz albums of the 1960’s?” by clicking here
Recording artist; multi-instrumentalist, best known for his performances with Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters band and for playing on Miles Davis’ album Bitches Brew
My selections are:
Marion Brown…Afternoon of a Georgia Faun
Weather Report….I Sing The Body Electric
Ornette Coleman…Science Fiction
3-4 isn’t really enough—or fair.
Here are mine…
Freddie Hubbard, Red Clay
Leon Spencer Jr., Louisiana Slim
Sonny Stitt and Gene Ammons, You Talk That Talk
Herbie Hancock, Thrust
Doug Carn, Infant Eyes
Read Myers’ response to the question “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz albums of the 1960’s?” by clicking here
Award-winning fiction writer; contributes jazz-themed short fiction stories to Jerry Jazz Musician
Of my three favorite jazz album selections of the 70s, only one was discovered in that era. I first heard Keith Jarrett’s The Koln Concert when I was 20 and in search of everything experimental. Jarrett, who is a great jazz improviser as well as classical pianist–playing everyone from Bach to Mozart, and being a composer of classical music himself–has said he learned improvisation while playing classical music. The Koln Concert introduced me to Jarrett’s holistic, risk-taking approach, which I immediately embraced and loved.
The Koln Concert was recorded at The Opera House in Cologne on January 24, 1975 on a substandard Bosendorfer piano, a small baby grand whose sound was off, on a night when a jet-lagged Jarrett was exhausted and wearing a brace to protect his aching back. The concert was separated into two parts when it was made into an album, and subsequently became the best-selling jazz record of all time.
McCoy Tyner‘s Atlantis, recorded in 1975 on Milestone Records, features a 20-year old Azar Lawrence playing tenor and soprano sax. I was sure I was listening to Coltrane when I first heard the album, which was recorded live at San Francisco’s Keystone Korner, with Joony Booth on bass, Wilby Fletcher on drums and Guilhermo Franco on percussion. Wilby, a wonderful drummer, died shy of his 55th birthday, on October 15, (also my birthday) in 2009, and spent 10 years with Tyner.
Atlantis is richly textured, explores several kinds of jazz, and contains four Tyner modal originals, including the catchy, swift and exuberant “Atlantis,” the title cut. As I am a percussion queen, I am fondest of what turn out to be the longer cuts on this album–“Atlantis,” “Makin’ Out,” and “Love Samba,” my favorite being “Makin’ Out,” which, again, feels like an homage to Coltrane. When I listen to it, entire narratives play out in my head.
I am convinced that jazz is the story maker’s art.
Oscar Peterson‘s Trio, recorded in 1973, features Joe Pass on guitar, Niels-Henning Orsted Pederson on bass and the master on piano and won a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Performance by a Group. It is not hard to see why.
With his original trio grouping with Ray Brown and Herb Ellis, Peterson brought the concept of trio to a whole new level, although his trio with Orsted Pederson and Pass reaches similar heights. I am crazy about “Blues Etudes,” on Trio which features Peterson exploring several jazz styles, including stride and boogie-woogie, but my favorite cut is “Chicago Blues,” which is simply phenomenal, Peterson at his finest. You can hear both these numbers–the former played live at Ronnie Scott’s Club in 1974–on Youtube.
Jane Ira Bloom
Jazz soprano saxophonist and composer; recording artist; awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in music composition; faculty member at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City
Here are 3 favs of mine:
Gnu High – Kenny Wheeler
Bitches Brew – Miles Davis
Doin’ It Right Now – Von Freeman
Read Bloom’s response to the question “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz albums of the 1960’s?” by clicking here
Author, Grammy award winning jazz journalist, former Boston Globe columnist; awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Jazz Journalists Association Asking for a list of favorite albums within any parameters would usually send me scurrying through my collection of LPs and CDs, shelved and online references, reviews and columns I wrote in my first professional decade…But the request arrives while I’m on vacation, removed from the archives and no closer than the local library to an internet connection. So here’s what I can offer off the ever-thinning top of my mind:
Dave Holland, Conference of the Birds (1972) – Whenever someone raises the question of how many, or how few, great albums appeared in the ’70s, my automatic response is “There’s Conference of the Birds.” Beyond its intrinsic strengths, it touches several bases, which is always handy for lists of this type. The front line contains two of the decade’s most important saxophonists, Anthony Braxton and Sam Rivers, whose concepts were highly distinctive yet linked by their individual employment of Dave Holland and Barry Altschul, the decade’s answer to Mingus/Richmond in terms of bass/drum flex. Most important, this is the first sign of the gifts that made Holland one of the strongest composers and bandleaders of the ensuing decades.
Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin Big Band, Long Yellow Road (1974) – The large working jazz ensemble went into further commercial decline during the ‘70s, yet composers old and young were still creating memorable works in a stylistic range from retro-rag to all-out. Composer/pianist Akiyoshi made one of the strongest impacts with her assemblage of vivid personalities (here including Bobby Shew and Gary Foster as well as co-leader Tabackin), a sound-pallet and melodic perspective drawing deeply upon both personal and jazz heritage, and rhythmic power. All the more reassuring at the time of Duke Ellington’s passing. This was the band’s second album, I believe.
Wayne Shorter, Native Dancer (1974) – I recently had occasion to listen to a lot of Shorter’s works as a leader, and confirmed that this collection is among the two or three that resonate most strongly for me. Though resolutely acoustic, I find it more viscerally appealing than any other supposedly audience-friendly jazz of the early fusion years. What I only realized while scanning a discography, yet is clear upon re-listening, is that several of the most striking piano parts are overdubbed by Shorter. Herbie Hancock is excellent when he does appear, and featured guest Milton Nascimento never sounded better. Uniformly great writing by Nascimento, as well as two of Shorter’s best, “Beauty and the Beast” and “Diana.”
Air, Air Time (1977) – A major lesson of the decade was that, in Chicago’s AACM and St. Louis’s BAG, the guiding principle was not each-one’s-own freedom but a more expansive notion of improviser-centric composition. Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Braxton, Julius Hemphill, Roscoe Mitchell and Henry Threadgill made the point manifest regardless of ensemble setting. Air, Threadgill’s first great band, was arguably the most consistently revelatory of this cohort’s many large and small, self-led and collective units. Not Air’s first recording, but the first I heard, and the opening “Keep Right on Playing Through the Mirror Over the Water” knocked me out like few first-time experiences since my initial audition of Mitchell’s Sound.
Clarinetist, saxophonist, composer, arranger, recording artist; social critic
Joe Henderson – At The Lighthouse – In many ways ‘Canyon Lady’ may be the most experimental of Joe’s Milestone period, ‘In Japan’ has great solos, but this live record with Woody Shaw is impressive.
Anthony Braxton – New York, Fall 1974 – Beautifully composed music at the height of his creativity, and a group foreshadowing the World Saxophone Quartet.
Eddie Palmieri – Unfinished Masterpiece – Elegant and violent, experimental and traditional. This record is my idea of how music should be.
Ray Barretto – Rican/Struction – a different style than Palmieri’s but equally progressive.
Read Byron’s response to the question “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz albums of the 1960’s?” by clicking here
It may be fair to rate the 1970s the worst decade for jazz. Fusion stalked the land, record deals dried up, young listeners went to rock. But many mainstream artists soldiered on, and now some gems from that time still shine.
Zoot Sims Meets Jimmy Rowles was one of several enduring collaborations between Zoot and the suave pianist Rowles. For a time Woody Shaw had a Columbia contract, and his Rosewood, voted best jazz album of 1978 by Downbeat, holds up beautifully. In the 1970s I spent a lot of time listening to the Toshiko Akoyoshi-Lew Tabackin Big Band and I still revisit their LPs. Road Time is representative of their work, which is unfortunately sparse in digital formats. And in the 1970s giants such as Bill Evans were still with us. For me, his lyrical and deeply felt You Must Believe in Spring is the best of his output of the decade.
Read Morris’ response to the question “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz albums of the 1960’s?” by clicking here
1. Herbie Hancock Mwandishi
2. Weather Report Heavy Weather
3. The Brecker Brothers (self titled)
4. Miles Davis Live at the Fillmore
There are many more, but these stand out, and I wore these recordings out!
Five-time Grammy Award nominated jazz singer
I never think of jazz albums as being from a given decade because the ones I love best seem timeless… I had to check and see which albums I loved and listened to a lot WERE from the 70s but here are a few:
Bill Evans: You Must Believe in Spring (recorded in 77.. not released until 81–one of my all-time favorite records
Chick Corea: Light as a Feather 74 (this makes me think of the 70’s..!)
Tony Bennett/ Bill Evans 75
Joni Mitchell Mingus 79
Bassist, composer, recording artist, bandleader, educator and activist. Co-founder of the non-profit Jazz Composers Collective and an adjunct professor at New School University 1970s… yes! A great decade for jazz. Here are some faves, in no particular order. There are many more but these came to mind first.
Ornette Coleman – Science Fiction (Columbia, 1971) One of the rare Ornette recordings to feature vocals, this take sounds colossal with Ed Blackwell and Billy Higgins on drums, plus four tightly voiced horn players (including Ornette and Dewey Redman and two trumpeters) and a processed mix that adds to the density and intensity. Vocalist Asha Puthli really belts it out with fearless energy, a perfect beginning to a record that has a serious edge to it. Any record that has the word “science” in it has my attention.
Keith Jarrett – Mysteries (Impulse! 1976) Keith Jarrett was at his creative apex in the mid-1970s, recording with his best band, the American quartet which featured Charlie Haden, Dewey Redman and Paul Motian. The group chemistry was a perfect fit for Jarrett’s stream of consciousness approach to melody. To my ears, this band took Ornette’s concepts and applied them to American folk and rock.
Jim Hall and Red Mitchell (duo recorded live at Sweet Basil, Artists House, 1978) This album was very influential to me as a bassist. The intimate interplay between Jim and Red stands as a shining example of a great jazz duo. When I first came to NYC in the mid 1980s places like Bradley’s, Zinno’s, The Village Gate, Sweet Basil and others had steady duo gigs. One of the first shows i heard was at The Knickerbocker, where I stood just feet from Ron Carter and Kenny Barron as they tore through tunes like Nardis and Rhythm-a-ning.
Herbie Hancock – Thrust (Columbia, 1974) Paul Jackson and Mike Clark created the perfect bedrock of uber-funk for Herbie’s awesome forays into the analog synth universe. I love Herbie’s records from this era. Cool orchestrations, with layers of synth mixed with orchestral sounds like Bennie Maupin on bass clarinet. Seamless playing and just the right balance between studio production and the spontaneity that’s the defining characteristic of jazz.
Seasons – Pete Jolly (A&M)
Gula Matari – Quincy Jones (A&M)
Land of Make Believe – Chuck Mangione (Mercury)
Chester & Lester – Chet Atkins & Les Paul (RCA)
Mizrab – Gabor Szabo (CTI)
Jazz critic; author; president of the Jazz Journalists Association
Ornette Coleman: Science Fiction
Miles Davis: On the Corner
Charles Mingus: Cumbia and Jazz Fusion
Art Ensemble of Chicago: Fanfare for the Warriors
Anthony Braxton: The Montreux/Berlin Concerts