Where The Moon Goes, by Weather Report

In the spring of 1982 Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter found themselves in a bind. They have just released the self-titled Weather Report album, the last with the classic group that included Jaco Pastorius and Peter Erskine, and where scheduled to go on tour in a month. However they found themselves without a band, as Pastorius was committed to his solo career, promoting his excellent solo Word of Mouth, and Erskine prepared for a tour with a new exciting band, Steps Ahead. Help materialized with drummer Omar Hakim, who came recommended by violinist Michael Urbaniak. Hakim also brought with him Bassist Victor Bailey and percussionist Jose Rossi. All three newcomers to the band were in their early 20s, but brought a massive talent pool that injected a new life to the band. Within a few weeks the group was able to get the tour going and in the midst of it recorded a new album, Procession.

Procession front

Omar Hakim was looking for an instrument that could acoustically simulate the hand clap sound of a drum machine. Visiting Joe Zawinul’s house, he tried banging on everything in sight until he found the trash can. Hakim says: “to his wife’s dismay, Joe got the garbage-can lid out of his backyard. He drilled a hole in it, we put it on a stand, and I used it on that tune. I’ve gone through a few since then. They bend up and then they are dead. The ‘trash’ goes away.”

Weather Report 1983

Weather Report, 1983

That tune is “Where The Moon Goes”. Listening to the track on the album you think it is a drum machine, but watching the live performance you clearly see Hakim hitting that lid, placed on his left. How he manages to incorporate a steady beat on that lid throughout the song while playing a complex rhythm is beyond me. Add to that his singing of the vocal line in unison with Zawinul in live performances, and you are in awe. Here it is from a live performance in 1983: Where The Moon Goes Tokyo 1983

Omar Hakim

Omar Hakim with that trash cymbal

The vocal line is sang in the studio version by The Manhattan Transfer. The band’s voices are processed and do not sound at all like typical lines by a vocal group. Zawinul, who for the first time featured lyrics for a complete song, wrote these lines as if they were intended for a musical instrument. As the song develops you hear these lines becoming more and more fragmented, similar to how a saxophone for example would have phrased them.

Weather Report Manhattan Transfer

The Manhattan Transfer with Weather Report

Janis Siegel of the Manhattan Transfer said of the tune that it was the hardest piece she had ever sang. In her words: “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…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!”

An excellent resource to all things Weather Report:The Weather Report Annotated Discography

And here is the studio version, with The Manhattan Transfer:

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7 replies »

  1. My Weather Report dropped off pretty much completely with Heavy Weather, although have heard Mr. Gone once. In retrospect the later stuff isn’t too bad, but at the time it seemed so lifeless compared to what had gone before. Even this track sounds to me like trying to make something happen that’s not quite happening, the live version being slightly more successful.

  2. Agreed this group is very different from the early Weather Report lineups and the classic one with Erskine and Pastorius and comparing album by album it probably does not stand up to them, but this group was smoking live. I saw them right after they released Procession and it was one of the best live shows I have ever seen. It felt as if the youngsters on stage made the elders, especially Zawinul, feel younger as well. You can see that in the live video from 1983 of Where The Moon Goes.

  3. Procession LP is totally underrated, I had listened to everything, all the pre-Jaco stuff, all the stuff with Jaco, then I got my hands on this, sorry, but anyone who thinks this isn’t a great album – and I mean one of WP’s “great” albums – simply isn’t listening. The playing is outstanding, the writing is strong, and this track, it’s such an oddball track, but it’s sublime, that big cadence at the 4:38 mark, sorry, tingles every time, uplifting, joyful music…”it’s a celebration” how can you be a WP/Shorter/Zawinul fan and not like this??

    • All valid points. Less celebrated for sure, but still a great album. Maybe the last Weather Report album with that level of innovation and energy.

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