Heavy Weather is the seventh album by Weather Report, released in 1977 through Columbia Records. The release originally sold about 500,000 copies; it would prove to be the band's most commercially successful album. Heavy Weather received a 5-star review from DownBeat magazine and went on to be voted jazz album of the year by the readers of that publication. On this album the lineup consisted of Weather Report founders Joe Zawinul (keyboards, synthesizers) and Wayne Shorter (saxophone), alongside Jaco Pastorius (bass), Alex Acuña (drums), and Manolo Badrena (percussion). It was produced and orchestrated by Zawinul, with additional production by Shorter and Pastorius, and engineered by Ron Malo.
Featuring the jazz standard "Birdland", the album is one of the best sellers in the Columbia jazz catalog. This opening track was a significant commercial success, something not typical of instrumental music. The melody had been performed live by the band as part of "Dr Honoris Causa", which was from Joe Zawinul's eponymous solo album. "Teen Town", a Pastorius composition where his bass takes the lead instrument role, is often considered a highlight of the album and of Pastorius's career. Although not mentioned as a live recording in the liner notes, "Rumba Mamá" (a percussion and vocals feature for Manolo Badrena and Alex Acuña) was recorded at a band's concert in Montreux, Switzerland during the summer of 1976, of which a film would be subsequently released on DVD in 2007.
Dan Oppenheimer said in a June 1977 review for Rolling Stone that he felt the band had moved away from their earlier music, losing a lot of the space, melodies and airy feel that set them apart from other jazz-rock bands, but gaining a new bassist who "has been instrumental in developing their busier, talkative style", and that while their music previously "went up and up only, becoming more ethereal as it went, the new bottom makes all the difference in the world".
Richard Ginell commented in a retrospective review for Allmusic that it was released "just as the jazz-rock movement began to run out of steam", however he felt that "this landmark album proved that there was plenty of creative life left in the idiom."
Manolo Badrena – Tambourine on "Birdland", congas on "Teen Town", "Rumba Mamá", and "Palladíum", vocals on "Harlequin" and "Rumba Mamá", timbales on "Rumba Mamá", and percussion on "Palladíum" and "The Juggler"