I am pleased to announce the publication of my new book, Elegant People: A History of the Band Weather Report. Timed to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the release of Weather Report’s debut album, it is available for pre-order now at Amazon and booksellers everywhere.
This book has been years in the making. My first interview with Joe Zawinul was in 2003! But it wasn’t until 2014 that I got serious about the idea of writing a book about Weather Report. Since then, I’ve interviewed or corresponded with over eighty individuals connected with the band, including nearly all of the musicians who performed with Weather Report either live or on record. Some of them spoke about their time with Weather Report for first time. As a fan of the band, it has been a thrill to hear their stories firsthand.
Also speaking as a fan, I wrote this book based on what I think all of us want to know: How did the band function? How was its music was made? What was it like in the studio and on the road? What was the cultural context in which this music was made?
The result is a definitive, clear-eyed history, which looks at the band and its members through an objective lens. But don’t take my word for it. Here is a portion of the book’s foreword, written by Peter Erskine:
Elegant People sheds more than just some light on the inner workings of the band, and the minds and souls that created it. Curt Bianchi has shown the kind of perseverance, determination, and moxie necessary to pierce the veils of mystery and misinformation that have plagued other recountings of the band’s history and ways. This book is the first telling of Weather Report that did not make me cringe, and it actually taught me something new about the band with each turn of the page.
Curt is a fan, and no doubt being a fan is a necessary attribute to take on such a story. More than that, Curt Bianchi is diligent, ethical, a great interviewer as well as storyteller. Elegant People tells a story that has long needed telling. As Jaco once said: “This shit is correct, man.” As Wayne Shorter told me: “Peter! BIG BANDS!” And, as Joe Zawinul told anyone and everyone: “This is the greatest band in the history.”
From start to finish, Elegant People tells the story beautifully.
You might ask, what’s different about the book from this website? Well, pretty much everything! You may have noticed that I haven’t been updating this site very much lately. That’s because all of my efforts have gone into the book. Think of it as a greatly expanded version of this website, backed by all-new firsthand accounts from everyone involved, plus a good dose of background to put everything in context.
A few details:
- Hard cover
- 504 pages
- 79 photographs, many of which have never been published before
- Fully sourced and annotated with endnotes
- Thorough, multi-level index
- Bibliography and discography
I’m confident that you’ll enjoy it and I look forward to hearing from you after you’ve read it!
Advance praise for Elegant People
“Really, an amazing book. Many thanks. Wow… a great work, thank you.”
–Peter Erskine, author of No Beethoven: An Autobiography and Chronicle of Weather Report
“Elegant People manages the impressive feat of being both exhaustive and hugely entertaining. I’m amazed at the stories and details I’ve gleaned as I’ve read this phenomenal effort. I’m certain you’ll be just as impressed.”
–Anil Prasad, founder of Innerviews: Music Without Borders
“Many congratulations on producing a highly readable, superb work on the band. This has clearly been a labor of love.”
–George Cole, author of The Last Miles
“I loved every bit of it.”
–Rick Mattingly, writer, editor, teacher, and drummer/percussionist.
Interview Subjects for Elegant People
I interviewed the following people for Elegant People: A History of the band Weather Report:
Alex Acuña, Arma Andon, Victor Bailey, Chuck Bazemore, Lou Beach, Gene Bertoncini, Bob Bobbing, Maria Booker Lucien, Steve “Muruga” Booker, Bruce Botnick, Darryl Brown, Barbara Burton, Bob Cavallo, Ndugu Chancler, Mino Cinélu, Frank Cuomo, Herschel Dwellingham, Guy Eckstine, Wayne Edwards, Greg Errico, Peter Erskine, Ed Freeman, Bob Glassenberg, Gary Grainger, Eric Kamau Gravatt, Gerry Griffith, Skip Hadden, Omar Hakim, Alan Howarth, Billy Hart, Kristjan Järvi, Alphonso Johnson, Steve Khan, Scott Kinsey, Bill Laswell, David Less, Roy McCurdy, Dave McMacken, Alison Mills Newman, Airto Moreira, Alphonse Mouzon, Nan O’Byrne, Nicholas Payton, Brian Risner, José Rossy, Roger Powell, Jim Swanson, Wayne Shorter, Janis Siegel, Bradie Speller, Robert Thomas Jr., Chester Thompson, Ralph Towner, Jerri Trandem, Jack Trompetter, Miroslav Vitous, Narada Michael Walden, Andrew White, Ishmael Wilburn, Joe Zawinul, and Risa Zincke.
In addition to those interviewed, I corresponded with several others, including Brad Blanchard, Bobby Colomby, Frank Colón, Johnny Conga, Heinz Czadek, Darius Fischer, Rob Freeman, David Friedman, Laurie Goldstein, Sonny Greenwich, Jamey Haddad, Kenny Klimak, Sabine Kabongo, Alyrio Lima, Mark Mawrence, Vince Mendoza, Mike Nock, Dan Phillips, Doug Ramsey, John Sanna, Tom Stroud, and Jim Wilke.
From the Dust Jacket
It’s been said that Weather Report was the leader in a field of one, such was the band’s preeminence in the jazz-rock genre. Founded in late 1970 by three stars of the jazz world—keyboardist Joe Zawinul, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, and bassist Miroslav Vitous—Weather Report went on to become the most unique and enduring jazz band of its era, with a style of music wholly its own.
Elegant People: A History of the Band Weather Report is the first book to tell the band’s story in detail. Based on years of research and dozens of interviews with musicians, engineers, managers, and support personnel, Elegant People is written from an insider’s perspective, describing Weather Report’s transformation from a freewheeling, avant-garde jazz band whose ethos was “we always solo and we never solo” to a grooving juggernaut that combined elements of jazz, funk, Latin, and rhythm ’n’ blues.
Fueled by Zawinul’s hit tune “Birdland” and the charismatic stage presence of legendary electric bass player Jaco Pastorius, Weather Report took on the aura of rock stars. By the time Zawinul and Shorter mutually agreed to part ways in 1986, Weather Report had produced sixteen albums, a body of work that ranks among the most significant in jazz.