Thursday, November 24, 2016

Weather Report - 1984 [2015] "Domino Theory"

Domino Theory is the fourteenth studio album by Weather Report, released in February 1984. It is the second album to feature the Hakim-Bailey-Rossy rhythm section.

Here's more proof that Weather Report actually became a more potent, life-affirming musical force after the departures of its best-known sidemen. Things begin on an oddly commercial note with a pop song "Can It Be Done," sung by Carl Anderson, that actually lays out Weather Report's credo, searching for sounds never heard before. Then Joe Zawinul and company get down to business with the funky "D-Flat Waltz," marked by Omar Hakim's flamboyantly complex drumming. Zawinul's synthesizer textures become thicker and more flexible with the help of newly-introduced digital instruments, and the funk element in general becomes more pronounced than on any record since Tale Spinnin'. Victor Bailey (bass), who spins his wheels on the title track, and Jose Rossy (percussion) remain on board (though Rossy left shortly thereafter) and Wayne Shorter's tenor sax has a rawer, tougher edge than it has in awhile. Though not quite as triumphant as Procession, a triumph nonetheless. 

Domino Theory was the second album for the Hakim-Bailey-Rossy rhythm section, and Josef Zawinul spoke enthusiastically about it in the March 1984 issue of Keyboard magazine.

    “It’s coming out in February,” Zawinul told Greg Armbruster. “We had so much fun making it that it was one of the easiest albums we’ve ever done. There are three live performances on it, and those were done after we had played 84 concerts. Then we went into the studio and recorded four more songs with this feeling from the live performances. On this album, we’re also dealing with a question; the first song is appropriately called ‘Can it Be Done?’, which is sung by Carl Anderson. We don’t have any answers, but we have questions. The next song, ‘D Flat Waltz,’ is eleven minutes long. After I wrote it, I analyzed it, and it’s more or less a Johann Strauss kind of form. There are different movements and there’s another melody every eight bars, and yet, altogether, it works well. The last song on Side A is ‘The Peasant.’

    “Side B opens with ‘Predator,’ a Wayne Shorter composition, followed by ‘Blue Sound, Note Three,’ which my son Erich named. The third song is called ‘Swamp Cabbage,’ by Wayne. I use an accordion-type sound on that tune. The last song is the title cut, ‘Domino Theory,’ with the drum machine. The album has a strong feeling throughout, a certain musical reference that creates the whole feeling. For instance, part of the intro to the very first song is found in the intro to ‘Blue Sound, Note Three,’ on Side B. I did certain background lines on Wayne’s song which are continued on ‘Domino Theory.’ You can listen to the album from beginning to end and feel a completeness.”

In a 1984 interview for Modern Drummer magazine, Robin Tolleson asked Omar Hakim about his co-producer credit. “Well, producer is such a vague word, but for me it did have a meaning. I was mixing the record. I have a great interest in studio stuff. All my friends know I’m a fanatic about that stuff… Joe knew I was a fanatic, so he brought me in and he trusted me a lot. I was very involved. It was actually hands-on for all of us. I mixed, and made some suggestions about effects, and made some arrangement suggestions occassionally. I learned so much from Joe and Wayne–just their sense of placing sounds in the music. What Joe would do is say, ‘You got it.’ He would leave the studio and so I would mix it the way I heard it. I would do a mix, Joe would come back and say, ‘Okay, see you later. Go get something to eat,’ and then he would do something. After that, we would work on it together. Then we would program things into the NECAM [a Neve computer system that could record certain mix settings], and do more things together. Then we would do panning, and set up echoes and delays. Like I said, I’m crazy about that stuff, so we had a lot of fun.”

The August 1984 issue of Down Beat described Zawinul’s keyboard arsenal at the time of Domino Theory. Zawinul’s stage setup included seven keyboards: an Oberheim 8 Voice, an ARP Quadra, an E-Mu Emulator, a Rhodes Chroma, a Sequential Circuits Prophet 5, a Korg Vocoder with auxiliary keyboard, and a Prophet T-8. The T-8 was Zawinul’s newest instrument, an eight-voice synthesizer with a touch-sensitive keyboard. “I have as much control as you can have,” Zawinul said of the T-8. “It’s velocity- and touch-sensitive so when you touch down, you can get your own vibrato; you can preprogram your vibrato and speed.” In addition, Zawinul used a Linn LM-1 drum machine, a Sequential Circuits Polysequencer, and various harmonizers and digital delay units.

Zawinul’s keyboard technician Jim Swanson, explained to Down Beat some of the modifications he had made to the Prophet 5. “There’s no other Prophet in the world like that,” he said. “The way it’s hooked up now with the MIDI is polyphonically. So when I throw [a] switch, it shuts off the audio of voices one through four, takes its own control voltage-out, and feeds it back to its control voltage-in so that voice one is making no noise but sending its control voltage and driving voice five. So that every new note you play, like on the Korg [Vocoder] up here, will trigger a note on the Prophet and jump it around so you get that flute-on-top-of-strings effect.” The article went on to describe the equipment in Zawinul’s home recording studio: “In his home recording studio he has an Amek 2016B 24-track mixing desk, an Ampex MM-1200 24-track tape recorder, and for mix-down an Otari MX5050 two-track machine. He listens to his music through Yamaha and Tannoy speakers. And despite his wealth of electronics, in the middle of it all, sits a Yamaha acoustic grand piano.”

Track listing

All tracks composed by Joe Zawinul, except where indicated.

    "Can It Be Done" (Wilson Tee) – 4:02
    "D Flat Waltz" – 11:10
    "The Peasant" – 8:16
    "Predator" (Wayne Shorter) – 5:21
    "Blue Sound - Note 3" – 6:52
    "Swamp Cabbage" (Wayne Shorter) – 5:22
    "Domino Theory" – 6:09


    Josef Zawinul - keyboards and synthesizers
    Wayne Shorter - saxophones
    Omar Hakim - drums
    Victor Bailey - bass
    José Rossy - percussion
    Carl Anderson - vocals on "Can It Be Done"



    1. Thanks a lot for sharing. Used to have a 320kbps copy after my original was lost.

  2. TYVM for sharing all this great music her!!!