Procession

Procession

“We would've really been in trouble if [Omar and Victor] couldn't play.”
– Joe Zawinul

Track Listing

Side One

1. Procession (Zawinul) 8:40
2. Plaza Real (Shorter) 5:26
3. Two Lines (Zawinul) 7:41

Side Two

4. Where The Moon Goes (Zawinul/N. O’Bryne) 7:47
5. The Well (Shorter/Zawinul) 3:56
6. Molasses Run (Hakim) 5:49

Credits

Original Release: Columbia Columbia FC 38427
Date Released: Spring 1983
Produced by: Zawinul
Co-Producer: Wayne Shorter
Assistant Producer: Brian Risner
Recorded by: Brian Risner
Studios: The Power Station, New York City; Universal Recording, Chicago; The Music Room, Pasadena, California; Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California; and The Sound Castle, Los Angeles, California
Mixing: The Sound Castle, Los Angeles, California; and Lion Share Studios, Los Angeles, California
Engineers: Neil Dorfsman, Tracking, Power Station; Mitch Gibson, Assistant, Sound Castle; Tom Fouce, Assistant, Lion Share; Tom Miller, Assistant, Universal
Cover Artwork: John Lykes
Photography: Bruce W. Talamon
Special Thanks: Beau Halfon, Howard Burke, Steve Callahan, James Swanson
Exclusive Representation: Maria C. Corvalan and Brian Condliffe

Mastered by Bernie Grundman at A&M Records, Hollywood, California.

“The Well”: Concert improvisation, Nagoya, Japan.

Personnel

Zawinul: Keyboards and synthesizers
Wayne Shorter: Tenor and soprano saxophones
Omar Hakim: Drums, guitar and vocals
Victor Bailey: Bass
José Rossy: Percussion and concertina
The Manhattan Transfer: Vocals on “Where The Moon Goes” (Cheryl Bentyne, Tim Hauser, Alan Paul, Janis Seigel)

Overview

1982 was supposed to be an off-year for Weather Report, but things didn’t work out that way. Their previous album, the self-titled Weather Report, was delayed several months and wasn’t released until February 1982. As a consequence, a planned November 1981 tour had to be canceled, and the band’s management scheduled a new tour in the spring of ’82. But by then, Robert Thomas Jr., Peter Erskine and Jaco Pastorius had committed themselves elsewhere. Thomas was with Herbie Mann and Monty Alexander, among others; Jaco was leading his Word of Mouth big band, which included Erskine, on a tour of Japan; and Erskine was committed to a summer tour with Steps Ahead.

Zawinul and Shorter found themselves in a bind, as Zawinul explained to Keyboard magazine’s Greg Armbruster in 1984:

By the time the [Weather Report] album was finished, we had no band at all. I was going back and forth to Austria because my mother was dying, and then we had problems with our management. As great as they were for other people, they didn’t really know what to do with us. So it was spring 1982; we had a contract signed and we couldn’t change the tour. We already had several lawsuits because we canceled the November tour. We had to go out on the road, otherwise we would have been finished as a band. About three weeks before the tour, I called [jazz violinist] Michael Urbaniak in New York. He goes to all the clubs and knows a lot of musicians. He said, ‘I know this guy, Omar Hakim; he’s a genius. He’s the greatest drummer in New York.’ I got in touch with Omar, and at that time he had a deal coming up with Warner Bros. to do his own record. He’s also a singer and guitar player. He plays all the instruments and wanted to do his own thing, so he wasn’t sure he could make it. The time for the tour grew closer and closer, and finally he said he would do it. We had never met, but I asked him to find a percussionist and a bass player, because we didn’t know anybody who could do the tour with us. We trusted Omar to bring the right musicians. Omar got [bassist] Victor Bailey and [percussionist] José Rossy and we signed all three of them before we ever met them; we trusted Hakim.

Two and a half weeks before the tour started, Omar, Victor, and José walked in and started rehearsing. We would’ve really been in trouble if they couldn’t play. It was just one of those things, and I call this our real fortunate period, because we could have really been on ice. It was tough, and after a couple of weeks we hit the road. After one month playing in the United States, we went into the studio and recorded the Procession album. Then my mama passed away and my family spent some time in Austria. We didn’t do anything for the rest of the year. In 1983 we did 86 concerts with this band and it really developed into something else. It was not such a flamboyant band as the one we had before but the compositions were really being played very correctly, interpreted correctly. [KB84]

Process Press PhotoPress Kit Photo. Left to right: Zawinul, Rossy, Hakim, Bailey, Shorter. Photo: Bruce W. Talamon.

Omar Hakim, then 23, started playing drums at the age of six, and by age 9 had begun sitting in with his father’s band. When Zawinul called, he was already a seasoned road veteran, having toured with Bobbi Humphrey, Hugh Masekela, trumpeter Tom Browne, Carly Simon, and Gil Evans. Of the Evans big band, Hakim said, “It was a great band to work with before going to Weather Report. They were both very similar experiences: very avante-garde and free and covering a wide range of styles, but always with some sort of intuitive pulse to it, an organization, a flow.” [Mus86] In 1982 Hakim won a Grammy for his composition “Being With You,” which he wrote for George Benson’s In Your Eyes album. Other credits included David Sanborn’s As We Speak album, and work with Carly Simon, Labelle, and Melba Moore. [MD84, Mus86]

Hakim picked up the story of his recruitment to Weather Report in a 1984 interview in Modern Drummer magazine:

It’s weird to be a fan of a band like that, and then join the band. That was really funny to me. And when Joe called me, I didn’t even audition. He just called me. He got a recommendation from Michael Urbaniak. At the time I was really busy wth Mike Manieri, and I was doing stuff with George Benson. I toured Japan with Mainieri, Warren Bernhardt and Marcus Miller, for a guitarist named Kazumi Watanabe. After that I worked with Mainieri’s band. Then I went out with Carly Simon along with Warren, Mike, and Mark Egan. So I had been in that circuit, and was doing a lot of club gigs with a lot of people. Mike Urbaniak was around at that time. So after Peter Erskine joined Steps, I guess Joe called New York and asked who was drumming around town and what was going on. Mike was kind enough to give him my name. So Joe called me. We didn’t talk much about music though. He asked me what I was doing. I was in the studio doing a solo record at the time. Warner Brothers had given me some bread and I was going to do an album as, like, a singer/keyboard player/drummer/guitar player. The night that I came back from mixing the stuff, Joe called. So we were talking about where I live, where he lives, and his garden with the tomatoes–nothing to do with music. Then after we finished talking he said, “Well, okay, you’re in.”

I flipped. My mother was funny too, because she said, “You got a call from L.A. about a gig. The guy has a funny name. It starts with a Z. he said something about a weather report.” I said, “Weather Report! Zawinul! What’s the number?” It was a dream-come-true gig for me. I had been buying the records, and going to gigs. I was playing a gig one time and Narada was there. He said, “You know, you’d be perfect for Weather Report.” This was like six years before. I thought that was so strange. But for me it felt like a natural place to be, after I got the concept together.” [MD84]

As Zawinul said, he asked Hakim to recommend a bass player and percussionist. “Joe called me in February,” Hakim recalled, “but we didn’t rehearse until early May. So that time was spent looking for a percussionist, and trying to talk Marcus Miller into doing the gig. We had played so tight together that it would have really been a lot of fun. He had been working with Miles and didn’t know if he wanted to leave Miles. Then he told me he wanted to concentrate on his solo album. So around that time I had started working with Miriam Makeba, and Victor Bailey was on the gig. I thought to myself that maybe I should call Joe and tell him about this guy.” [MD84]

Hakim told Zawinul biographer Brian Glasser, “So I was doing some gigs with Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba, and they had this bass player called Victor Bailey, from Philadelphia, and I’d heard about Victor but I’d never played with him. And during the jam session at the soundchecks for Hugh and Miriam, I noticed that, as the jam session got a little deeper and heavier, guys were leaving the stage one by one, and invariably at the end of every jam session the only two people left were me and Victor, and I’d go, ‘Hmm. This guy is pretty awesome!’ So I told Joe and Wayne about him and Victor sent out a tape, and they loved the tape.” [IASW, p. 230]

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Bailey was just 22 years old, and began playing bass in his brother’s band in Philadelphia. He studied at the Berklee School of Music from 1978 to 1980, and had recorded with Hugh Masakala, Larry Coryell, and Tom Browne. [PPK] He told his version of the story to Bill Milkowski in 2000: “Before we [Bailey and Omar Hakim] played with Weather Report we did one session together. It was actually the first session I ever did in New York–Bobby Broom’s record Clean Sweep. Omar and I played on the title track. And just before we joined Weather Report we also did two gigs with a singer from South Africa, Miriam Makeba, which is the first time we actually really started getting it together. One day during the soundcheck we started playing. I would do this thing where I play [John Coltrane's] ‘Moment’s Notice’ and I do the melody, the chords and the walking bassline all at the same time. And Omar joined in. I felt a natural chemistry even then. But then one day he told me, ‘Yeah, man, I got the gig with Weather Report. Jaco and Peter left the band so I am going to call Joe and tell him about you. So you should send him a tape.’ And soon after that, I joined Weather Report.” [B00]

Hakim knew Rossy from his work with Labelle. “I had met José Rossy with Carmine Rojas in Labelle, and working with Jose had left an impression on me because we had so much fun together–an instant rapport. I just told Joe to get José Rossy.” [MD84] Rossy, age 28, studied tympani and percussion at the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music. He performed with cellist Pablo Casals for three years, and was a member of the Puerto Rico Symphony before moving to New York in 1977. He had performed with Peter Allen, Labelle, and Cameo, and had done extensive studio work in New York. [PPK]

So what was it like, joining one of the premier bands of the time? “The first week was pretty rough,” remembered Hakim. “It’s a matter of learning where to place your thoughts in the music. I had a headache all the first week, just from the concentration, the excitement of being there and learning the music. [Zawinul would] hand me charts that were so long the pages would fall over flapping to the ground.” [MD84]

Bailey described his experience in a lengthy 1984 interview by Josef Woodard for Guitar Player magazine. “When we recorded Procession,” Bailey told Woodard, “Omar and I had been in the band only about a month. It’s a very difficult band to just go into and play. I always thought it would be easy to work with Weather Report because since I was 16, I could listen to the records, and whatever Alphonso Johnson or Jaco Pastorius could play, I could play. But then to go in there and try to be myself was really hard, largely because my playing comes from the real bebop kind of thing. Joe and Wayne don’t really want to hear that, because they played bebop 30 years ago–it really doesn’t fit into Weather Report’s concept. So I had to totally readjust, and I’m not the kind of person to say, ‘I’m going to play my thing anyway, whether they like it or not.’ Rather than just do my thing and get off and have people say, ‘Hey, the bass player was this or that,’ I just sat back and took my time, figured out where I should be in the music. It was very interesting and very difficult, as well.” [GP84b]

“Weather Report was the first situation in which I actually felt challenged–I could even say threatened. Joe and Wayne know what they want. And before that, I never had anybody over my shoulder saying, ‘No, that’s not it, that’s not it, you gotta do this, you gotta do that.’ Dealing with that was really hard, and it inhibited my playing. Rather than just going out and playing, a beat before every note I was thinking: ‘I wonder if they’re going to like this?’ I wasn’t really expressing myself naturally. I was trying to prejudge–’How’s this going to sound?’–before I even did something, and you can’t play music like that. It has to be a natural flow. You have to forget about it. I found out a lot of things about myself.” [GP84b]

Of the three newcomers, Bailey undoubtedly had the toughest assignment, replacing the legendary Jaco Pastorius. Was it intimidating? “It was intimidating to be on stage with Joe and Wayne. But I really wasn’t worrying about filling Jaco’s shoes… at all. Because I had a very clear sense of who I was and where I was. I was a young kid who had a great opportunity. Jaco was like my hero, so it was even beyond my thinking to even consider whether anybody would even compare me with him or not. He was this giant guy up there and I’m this kid and I’m coming up and I’m in the best place I could possibly be in. And I’m happy to be here. And also I knew that nobody was going to be able to walk out of there and say I couldn’t play. They might be able to say, ‘Oh, he’s no Jaco,’ or ‘he’s still young.’ Obviously, I wasn’t going to knock everybody out like Jaco did. But nobody was going to say I couldn’t play. I was never caught up in the mythology of Jaco being ‘the greatest ever,’ so the fear factor wasn’t there. Jaco was just this unbelievable thing. And nobody can follow that thing. The Weather Report gig was big for me, but I never worried about what anyone else thought. I always knew what I had to get together. I never got up there on stage thinking, ‘Oh, I hope people like me.’ I never was easily intimidated. You had to be very sure of yourself to play in that band or in Joe’s current band.” [B00]

Bailey later credited Jaco for helping him to assert his place in the band: “For the first tour with Weather Report, I was always kind of looking at Joe out of the corner of my eye, like, ‘I wonder if he likes this?’ But then Jaco told me, ‘Man, you can play! Just go ahead and do what you do, and do it!’ So the second time out with Weather Report my attitude really changed. From that point on, I was walking right up to the keyboard, looking right in Joe’s face, and saying, ‘Here, motherfucker, play with this!’ And that totally changed our relationship. Then Joe, I think, really respected me, so I could relax and do what I do best.” [Jaco, p. 243]

Omar Hakim recalled his early experience with Weather Report: “I’m the kind of person who, no matter what sort of gig it is, likes to go out there and have fun. And before I joined Weather Report I saw the band, and Joe looked so serious–he looked mean, you know–so when I joined I didn’t know what to expect. Then when we started doing gigs people were saying to me, ‘You know, Joe is smiling onstage, and he looks happy!’ And I realized he has a really great sense of humor and he’s a funny cat. But I guess because I was up on stage having such a great time, the vibe became contagious.” [DB85]

Asked about the actual working process of the band, Bailey said:

Joe and Wayne have something they want, but they can’t exactly put it into words, because it’s not a definite, specific thing–it’s not like, ‘We want eighth-notes or sixteenth-notes or this kind of harmony or that. ‘It’s something that’s just more spritual. They know it when they feel it. So, they’re trying to get you to capture a certain feeling, a certain frame of mind. In Weather Report, there’s a reference point for each song, more than the song being: ‘This is the drum beat, this is the bass line,’ although you have that somewhat, too. There’s a reference point that you have to come from, and you can do whatever you want around it.

It’s funny. When we learn a tune, they bring in a chart with the song written out, but the tunes almost never end up sounding the way they were written. It’s never, ‘Read this part, play exactly what’s down here.’ You have to interpret it and then add your own thing into it. You can omit things; it’s just a frame of reference. Like, say, maybe the tune is in F, and they say, ‘Okay, you can go to a B diminished occasionally.’ It’s never so specific, because the music is not like that. It’s so open. You can do whatever you want to do, as long as you never lose the essence. Each song is an emotion. [GP84b]

”Procession”Full-page

Down Beat writer A. James Liska was at the new Weather Report’s very first concert, at the 1982 Kool Jazz Festival in San Diego. He wrote:

Against a backdrop of pre-recorded fanfare, Weather Report tool the stage, holding it for nearly three hours with an array of musical colors and textures that have come to characterize its output for some 12 years. The new members of the band–bassist Victor Bailey, drummer Omar Hakim, percussionist José Rossy–were well-rehearsed and well-versed in their roles. The image of a former Weather Report faded, and the new one took its rightful place.

The pre-show quite of back-stage turned to after-debut jubilation. Back-patting and hugging were rampant. A victory, as such, had been won in San Diego; Weather Report, after a ten-month absence and risky personnel changes, was back.

Shorter, quite and reserved, beamed, accepting graciously the compliments being offered. Zawinul, posed and intense, smiled broadly, countering each compliment with a reminder that this was the band’s first-ever performance. “Just wait,” he warned. “I think this is the best band; these musicians are the best.” [DB82a]

In the spring of 1983 Zawinul compared the current line-up to the previous Pastorius-Erskine line-up. “It [the Pastorius-Erskine band] was one of the greatest bands of all time! That band was a hummer! But I’ll tell you, I think this one is developing into an even better one. Before, we were a knock-out band, we’d dazzle people and they’d have certain expectations about us, particularly Jaco. Now I didn’t mind all of Jaco’s gimmicry. I thought it was strong musically and really entertaining for the crowd. But look at what’s driving the band now: not any sort of gimmicry but the music itself.” [BAM83]

The material for Procession took shape during a month-long tour of the US. Shorter told Detroit Free Press reporter W. Kim Heron. “I call it a universal festive feeling,” Shorter said of the album’s feel. “It’s not really carnival or a party time thing. But it’s a celebration, that’s the word (that ends the song) ‘Where the Moon Goes.’ The mood came very early and we had to come up with a word that would cover it without being misleading in any way, so the one we came up with was ‘Procession.’” [DFP83]

Heron’s article went on to say, “The album is dominated by the thick layers of synthesized keyboards which have become the Weather Report trademark. For many, it’s hard to listen to his Weather Report playing and not miss the more expansive and freewheeling style of Shorter’s pre-Weather Report days. But Shorter sees all of his playing as a whole. ‘It may not always be in the same form, but the same essence comes out,’ said Shorter of his past and his present. ‘You don’t hang up your lightweight gloves when you move on to the heavyweight gloves, heavyweight meaning the larger audiences.’” [DFP83]

Blair Jackson interviewed Zawinul and Shorter in mid-April 1983 for a BAM article:

Jackson: Even with all the personnel changes Weather Report has undergone over the years, there is an unmistakable continuity from album to album. Is this because the two of you are responsible for nearly all the music?

Zawinul: Yes, it’s always been our music. And in the last few years, I’ve written more of it than Wayne, so it’s followed a certain line. When I write something or when Wayne writes something we are usually writing the whole composition, even the other players’ parts. Now that will change with different players and with differences in style, but the stock of the music is more or less the same as it was twelve years ago.

Shorter: The concept of the band hasn’t changed; we’re sticking to the form of the original musical conversations we had. We haven’t let that thing that happens to so many bands happen to us, which is they forget why they got together in the first place. [BAM83]

Side One

1. Procession (Zawinul) 8:40

“The didgeridoo-type sound is all done with the vocoder,” Zawinul told Keyboard’s Greg Armbruster. Asked how traveling has affected his music, Zawinul said, “If you’re an open person, you learn wherever you go. I’m not that much interested in other people’s music, but I am interested in other people’s behavior. For instance, when we went to Torino [Turin, Italy], I went to the marketplace. I walked around in the street, listening to people arguing and selling, and watching their reactions. And sometimes you hear this sound, or spectrum; you don’t hear individual voices, you hear it all together and it makes something. You get the character of a people rather than the character of their music. I hardly ever listen to music of other cultures; I did this thirty years ago. But I do pay attention to people – how they walk and talk. There is a certain walk they have in Japan that is different from the walk in Yugoslavia. It is the rhythm of a people. In ‘Procession,’ you hear that walk in the bass drum; that’s the human walk.” [KB84]

Of drummer Omar Hakim, Zawinul once said, “I like a drummer who is like a composer behind the kit, someone who can play not just time but think melodically and constantly add ideas to the music. I remember one time analyzing Omar Hakim’s playing on the recording ‘Procession.’ During the whole tune, he played a beautiful little composition. You could leave the other stuff out and the song would exist; you’d still have some real music there. That’s why we would always discuss those kind of things. You cannot write everything down but you can tell a young musician, ‘That’s what I need,’ and I think Omar Hakim was one of the best, perhaps the best drummer in the sense that he tried to make out of a line a composition–the way he shaped that line, a rhythm line or somethin’, and came back again. And that’s what it really was. And it’s very difficult to do, but when it comes out it sounds very simple.” [IASW, p. 232]

2. Plaza Real (Shorter) 5:26

The title was inspired by a trip to Spain. “I went to Barcelona and saw the flamenco dancers,” Shorter recalled. “The place where they performed was called Plaza Real. Instead of writing a piece of music that sounded like a flamenco rhythm, I wrote this music. Ah, Plaza Real — ‘Let’s go down to the Plaza Real and spend the night, a wonderful evening with Cointreau and demitasse.’ Plaza Real.” [FT, page 78]

“On ‘Plaza Real’ I played an accordion that Jaco [Pastorius] had given to me for my 49th or 50th birthday,” said Zawinul. “The melody is actually played by José Rossy on a little concertina that I bought in Spain. The shop was on a little side street off the Plaza Real in Barcelona. I had him try it one day and the first time he grabbed it he could kind of play it. So I said, ‘Here, you got it!’ He plays the melody of ‘Plaza Real’ on it and I join him on accordion. Then Wayne comes in whistling and I play some counter lines.” [KB84]

3. Two Lines (Zawinul) 7:41

In an interview with journalist Robin Tolleson, Hakim described how Zawinul used a Linn drum machine to score this tune. “Sometimes Joe will hand you a percussion score. He’ll program the Linn and then transcribe it. Then he’ll hand you a score that you need 12 hands to play, but you’ve got to divide it between two arms and two legs. So José and I would be looking at the charts figuring out who would be playing what, with what hand, and at what time. The song ‘Two Lines’ on the Procession album is like that.” [MD84]

Zawinul told Armbruster the “chipmunk” voices on “Two Lines” were also done with the vocoder. [KB84] “Two Lines” was part of the Zawinul Syndicate repertoire into the late 1990s, and can be heard on the Syndicate album World Tour.

Side Two

4. Where The Moon Goes (Zawinul, lyrics by N. O’Bryne and Zawinul) 7:47

This tune features the processed vocals of Manhattan Transfer, which had recorded a version of “Birdland” that won a Grammy award. Manhattan Transfer made an unannounced appearance with Weather Report at the 1982 Playboy Jazz Festival for the band’s “Birdland” encore–a performance that caught the audience by surprise and brought the house down.

Blair Jackson of BAM magazine asked Zawinul if writing for a vocal group posed any special challenges. “Not really,” replied Zawinul, “because I looked at the vocal part as just another instrument, another timbre. My one complaint is that we didn’t have enough time. We recorded for a few hours one day at Fantasy Studios up here [in the San Francisco Bay Area], and then did another day in Los Angeles. And that wasn’t really enough for what is an extremely difficult piece of music. It’s not really in their style. Four-part harmony is their speciality, but we worked it out differently. That’s part of what makes it work. That’s hip, I think” [BAM83]

Transfer vocalist Janis Siegel told Glasser that “Where The Moon Goes” was “the hardest piece I have ever sung.” “Oh my god, it’s just completely obtuse. The way [Zawinul] hears things is… original. He had everything all written out but the tune is bizarre. You have to really, really count everything, and you know singers don’t do that… You know, ‘Where’s the bridge? Okay, repeat the verse.’ ‘Time and again, over and over…’ It was just relentless! And he had harmony, and oh my god, it was really difficult. We sang over a track with all the instruments, and we did it in real time. But it was a great experience. He liked to pull the rug out from under you, that’s his MO!” About the processed vocals, Siegel said, “I thought that was kind of interesting in retrospect. He used us as an instrument. He compressed us. He uses the voices as an effect, in fact.” [IASW, p. 233]

5. The Well (Shorter/Zawinul) 3:56

This track was recorded live, in concert at Nagoya, Japan on June 3, 1981. “Joe and I played ‘The Well’ as a duet,” recalled Shorter.” We improvised the music and decided to call it ‘The Well.’ Improvisation, where does it come from? It comes from a never-ending source, just like a well.” [FT, page 78]

The Zawinul/Shorter duets were a highlight of Weather Report concerts for years. Zawinul recalled, “As far as the duets that Wayne and I used to play are concerned, I have no idea how we did it. It was just one of those things. It’s funny how we work together. Either he starts the song or I start it. I have perfect pitch and Wayne is close to it… There were no mistakes. He is a great poet. I don’t even call him a saxophone player and I don’t call myself a keyboard player. I’m a musician who tells stories and we could tell stories together.” [FT, page 64]

6. Molasses Run (Hakim) 5:49

The only Omar Hakim composition recorded by Weather Report. Hakim explained the making of this track to Brian Glasser: “I brought in the melody and the charts, and what I noticed was that Joe and Wayne played it at first with my original ideas for the harmony. Then, after a while, I watched them rip the harmony apart and I watched them rebuild it, doing these interesting things, but they left the melody intact. What I learned was how to stretch the harmonic idea and leave the melody intact, and Joe and Wayne–particularly Joe–were masters of that sort of thing, finding texture and the subtle drama in melody. He totally made my song better. He took what I had and made it a Weather Report tune. What I had had the potential for a Weather Report tune, but his synthesizer arrangements, his texture with soundscape and little subtle harmonic things he did–that turned it into a Weather Report track. It was a fantastic lesson for me.” [IASW, pp. 241-242]

In his Modern Drummer interview, Tolleson asked Hakim about his guitar playing on “Molasses Run.” “Yeah, that was a mistake,” replied Hakim. “Joe said we needed alternate changes on the tune. I had my guitar with me, so I said that I’d work out the changes that night and bring them into the studio. I was playing it on the guitar, and we were trying to figure it out. He was at the keyboards, and he said, ‘I like that sound. Get a mic.’ I told him that I didn’t want to play the guitar on this record,” explaining, “I don’t consider myself a serious guitar player. I do it in my house where the doors are closed, the window shades are pulled down, and the windows are locked. It’s not something that I really take seriously, even though there was a time when I was working on it, and I was feeling forward motion on it.” [MD84]

Zawinul explained to John Diliberto how he altered the intervals in his keyboards to produce his solo on “Molasses Run.” “I do some detuning and make a scale that has an octave with maybe six notes or one with 15 notes. On my Oberheim I have eight modules, and each module I can tune to another note. When I go through the scale on one note, I can make it so each time I hit C on the keyboard, the next note, will be another one, the third one, the fourth, et cetera–each one a different note. Then I can add with the other notes. This is quick thinking. I have different set-ups with different intervals. The solo I play on ‘Molasses Run’ I do with that.” [DB84]

Review Excerpts

Procession is suffused with a unity and joy that makes this the best Weather Report album since Mysterious Traveller. Yet, it lacks the passion of discovery and daring that made Weather Report a landmark group of the 1970s. Most of this material was toured throughout 1982 with a more immediate spontaneity and tension that could’ve made this LP great.”

★★★

– John Diliberto, Down Beat, June 1983

“This pioneering fusion jazz group has undergone yet another revamping of personnel. Only Joe Zawinul on keyboards and synthesizers and Wayne Shorter on saxophones remain from the original band, but the intensity of the approach is still high. There is a romping, infectious flavor to the title tune, and a playfully brooding quality marks ‘Plaza Real.’ The vocal group Manhattan Transfer is featured on one of the numbers, ‘Where the Moon Goes,’ and the results are eerily fascinating.”

★★★

– Jack Lloyd, Philadelphia Inquirer, March 4, 1983

Procession may not be one of Weather Report’s best albums, but it’s one of the best jazz-rock recordings of recent years — an indication of how completely Weather Report has artistically dominated the fusion movement that promised so much a dozen years ago but delivered so little… The album’s best compositions are Zawinul’s title tune–which begins with tentative, counter balanced synthesizer-bass exchanges, shifts gears into an assured, rolling trot and then subsides slowly–and Shorter’s ‘Plaza Real,’ a moody ballad with reluctant stop-and-go phrases that finally break open into a cathartic sax solo.”

–Geoffrey Himes, Washington Post, March 25, 1983

Procession was arguably the last fully satisfying Weather Report album, mainly because it captured the white-hot fusing of the new line-up. The album conveyed the sense of a group excited to be making each other’s acquaintance, and the fact that the band had been on the brink of extinction seemed to give the music even more of an edge. A highly accomplished, death-defying act, then, and one whose momentum would see the group through another couple of years.”

–Brian Glasser, In A Silent Way, 2000

Awards

Billboard chart peak: Jazz Albums, 3; R&B Albums, 46; Top 200 Albums, 96.

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