Although saxophonist Wayne Shorter and keyboardist Joe Zawinul were the creative linchpins of Weather Report, the band’s evolution can be traced through its bass players. With their fourth album, Mysterious Traveller, Weather Report introduced their first electric bassist, Alphonso Johnson. Although he’s been overshadowed by the work of his brilliant replacement, Jaco Pastorius, Johnson was a superb player himself, and his contributions to the album contribute to its status as a fusion masterpiece. The album shifts between epic numbers (“Nubian Sundance,” “Mysterious Traveller”) lyrical performances (“Blackthorn Rose," “Jungle Book”) and funky workouts (“Cucumber Slumber”) that lend the work variety and drama. Shorter and Zawinul’s playing and compositions are characteristically inspired, (Zawinul’s fascination with world music showing itself with increasing force), while Johnson gives the music a new vibrancy. If you tend to think of Weather Report as virtually beginning with Pastorious, this is a fine place to reinvestigate their history.