‘Elegant People,’ Weather Report

Weather Report, circa 1978 (from left, Jaco Pastorius, Peter Erskine, Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter).

Weather Report, circa 1978 (from left, Jaco Pastorius, Peter Erskine, Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter).

Saxophonist Wayne Shorter grew up in Newark, started seeing jazz musicians at the city’s Adams Theatre, and graduated from Newark’s Arts High School. “I would skip one class to hear the band at the Adams, go back for another class, and then skip again later in the day when the band would come back on,” he told jazz.com in 2008.

Shorter, now 81, first became well known in the jazz world by working with Art Blakey from 1959 to 1964, and then joined Miles Davis’ quintet; he also started making solo albums during his time with Blakey. He has played on pop and rock records by Steely Dan (“Aja”), Don Henley (“The End of the Innocence”), Joni Mitchell and The Rolling Stones, and became a bit of a rock star himself as a member of the hugely influential jazz-fusion band Weather Report from 1971 to 1986. Particularly in the late ’70s, Weather Report sold large numbers of records and was able to play huge venues; its 1977 single “Birdland” even crossed over to the pop Top 40.

Below is a video of Weather Report at or near the top of its popularity, in 1978 (with keyboardist Joe Zawinul, bassist Jaco Pastorius and drummer Peter Erskine also featured in the lineup), playing a Shorter composition, “Elegant People.”

New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday last year. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we are marking the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, for almost a year — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. We started in September 2014, and will keep going until late in the summer.

If you would like to suggest any songs to be included, please let me know in the comments section underneath the video. And if you want to see the entire list, either alphabetically or in the order the songs were selected, click here.

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