IN THE TITLE OF VIRTUOSO JAZZ
bassist Miroslav Vitous’s latest album,
Remembering Weather Report [ECM, 2009],
the word “remembering” carries a lot of
weight. He was right there with Wayne
Shorter and Joe Zawinul at the beginning
of what we now know to be the seminal
fusion band of the ’70s, but his era [Weather
Report and I Sing The Body Electric, Columbia,
1971] was a more experimental, streamof-
consciousness project than the
form-and-groove driven, Pastorius-powered
version. It’s this earlier vision and spirit that
Vitous honors on Remembering. This allacoustic
recording is a largely free-form
improvised look back to what was, with a
hopeful look ahead to the future. As Vitous
says, the goal is “awakening the spirit of the
direct communication, as now is the time
to go in that direction. The old concept is
long past-due expired.”
His remembrance is not without emotional
conflict, so it’s not surprising that
Vitous re-imagines the concept of Weather
Report through original composition. The
result is a fascinating musical counter-factual,
quoting bits of “Nefertiti” in “W.
Shorter” and having a little fun with a “Teen
Town” motif in “Blues Report” amidst a
panoply of discovery-driven textures in
which Miroslav’s bass is—as he always imagined—
a co-equal member of the front line.
Vitous’s career can hardly be summarized
in a single article: Prague Conservatory
graduate and Berklee scholarship
winner; late-’60s New York jazz phenom;
New England Conservatory Jazz Department
Chair in the ’80s; successful developer
of symphonic orchestra samples
software; and ten solo releases by 1992,
plus three albums this decade. Vitous currently
lives and works in Northern Italy,
near the town of Turin.
What originally inspired you to want to reexamine
the Weather Report era for this record?
It was the passing of Joe Zawinul, but it
came out of wanting to regenerate the concept
of direct conversation between instruments,
skipping the traditional rhythm-section
slave concepts and therefore completely liberating
the music. But even the conversation
concept from those days has much advanced
in our playing today.
Why did you want this project to be completely
I prefer acoustic because it has overtones
ringing with the universe, and electric
notes have fewer. But it does not really
matter if the music is electric or acoustic.
It is the concept we are referring to here,
not the content of instruments.
How did Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul
impact you as a bassist, composer, and
I think they had tremendous respect for
my talent, but did not show it too much, as
I was very young at that time and they did
not want me to think too highly of myself.
Unfortunately, Wayne Shorter had his hand
in parting me from my one-third ownership
of Weather Report. For a very long time in
my life, this had a dramatic impact on me,
both financially and spiritually.
What do you think Joe would have
thought of the band on Remembering
I think he would have been knocked
out by how far we have come from those
Where you were coming from on “Variations
on W. Shorter”?
I wanted to show the public what I can
do creatively with other music. I loved
Wayne’s music for many years, and it presented
a good deal of inspiration. My
melodic approach was the key to developing
How about on “When Dvorak Met Miles”?
I wanted to show the mastery of the arco
playing, and also the combining of my Miles
Davis and Slavic melodic inspirations.
What’s your ultimate take-away from
having done this album? What do you hope
it is for the listener?
It has everything to do with the idea of
sharing, and the universal changes of this
time which we are experiencing.
What would your one-sentence advice
be to double bass jazz students of the following
abilities: beginner, intermediate,
Beginner: If you passionately do not
love music, don’t play. Intermediate: Play
for the music and soul, not the success and
money. Advanced: Even more of the same.
What would you like to be doing five
years from now?
Whatever my musical destiny is and what
God has for me to do.
HEAR HIM ON
Weather Report [ECM, 2009]
Bass Kolstein Busetto Model
Studio setup u-size 1860
Homolka upright for arco; circa-
1900 u-size Czech bass for pizzicato;
ProTools (at 24-bit/96K
sampling rate), two Neumann
U87 mics, Schoeps mic
Effects TCM reverb plug-in
Strings For arco: Pirastro solos
(purple); for pizzicato, Thomastik
solos (yellow); all tuned to orchestra