Birdland, Revisited

I just needed somewhere to pin this memory: When I first became aware of Weather Report’s classic jazz fusion tune, it was only in the context of shitty high school marching band or college big band renditions. So many of them that when I finally heard Weather Report’s original version in college, I couldn’t stand it. Couldn’t hear it without cringing. Couldn’t undertand it. Couldn’t watch it being played by anyone, even if they were trying to be true to the original, without a sneer of derision.

I got a copy of HEAVY WEATHER in college when I was heaviest into my Jazz Phase when the thing that separated the people who took jazz courses for the credits was and the Real Hip Cats(TM) was knowing about the side projects of the people who played with Miles on BITCHES BREW (in this case, Josef Zawinul, Jaco Pastorious, et al.). But I didn’t get it, not really. Not “Birdland,” and certainly not “Teen Town” or “Palladium.”

It’s taken nigh on 25 years to finally get all that out of my system and actually appreciate HEAVY WEATHER and “Birdland” for the classics they are. This shit is in the jazz fusion canon for a reason, and now I respect it enough to NOT want any part of rearranging and playing my own version.