The Complete Columbia Albums Collection
This set is an oddity in the Complete Columbia Albums series in that it goes beyond Wayne Shorter's solo albums for the label. In fact, it provides a service to his catalog that is virtually singular. Its first two discs are devoted to all of his compositions for Weather Report. Most of what is here from the WR years is revelatory in terms of Shorter's aesthetic, which differed -- often radically -- from Joe Zawinul's. Check "The Moors," "Eurydice," or "Non-Stop Home" from the early years, and "Swamp Cabbage" and "Face on the Barroom Floor" from the later ones; all are consistent, excellent examples of electric jazz. Of the four solo albums here -- Native Dancer, Atlantis, Phantom Navigator, and Joy Ryder -- it is the first, Native Dancer, a collaboration with Brazilian vocalist Milton Nascimento and pianist Herbie Hancock from 1974, that is the most satisfying. While few would argue that his remaining solo recordings for Columbia -- all of which were cut after he left WR -- were somewhat disappointing for someone of his pedigree, the argument can be made that many of the compositions are in and of themselves lovely, but their faults lie -- at least in part -- with the production techniques of late '80s and '90s. Many of the performances, particularly on Atlantis, are indeed rewarding when reconsidered. Given the price tag, and unless one owns all of WR's recordings, this is a set with significant historic importance. If only Blue Note, a label where most of Shorter's seminal solo recordings were issued, would do the same thing.