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Weather Report - Black Market CD (album) cover

BLACK MARKET

Weather Report

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.02 | 249 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
2 stars 2.5 stars really!!!

Generally hailed by pure progheads as WR's best album, Black Market is indeed often cited by other fans, partly/mainly because of drummer Chester Thompson and bassist Jaco Pastorius' arrival in the fold. WR's sixth album indeed sports a spotless all star line-up, but to this writer, the group fails to really gel: indeed, there is no stable line-up as there are two bassists and four percussionists/drummers and this fails to give a solid musical direction.

With an ethnic artwork, the album is at least that: ethnic-fusion, and not least so with the album-opening title track, the red-hot jazz- funk jam shows that indeed good musicianship can cover up for weak songwriting, but if you scratch the surface, there isn't much there. Next up, Cannonball is (you guessed it) a Zawinul-homage to his former bandleader Adderley, this is boring would-be straight/standard jazz with then-modern instrumentation. The first real highlight occurs with the A-side closing Gibraltar, yet another improv on an Indian-sounding raga-beat laced with a funk bass line. This red-hot groove with inspired improvisations and great soloing is

While the first side was Zawinul-penned, the flipside is mostly Shorter and the two bassists writing one each. The opening track Elegant People, with a neat piano-dominated slowly evolving intro, is turning into a mega-funky track and easily the best track on this side. Three Clowns also opens calmly, and stays soporifically slow, even if well executed, again, there isn't much in terms of writing music. The Pastorius-penned Barbary Coast is a bass showboat and just an excuse for a bass solo, hidden by a few doodlings around it. Ultra-funky, technically difficult and (outside the virtuoso coup) again not much to chew upon in terms of writing. The (other bassist) Johnson track Herandnu fares much-better, and after an exciting start, also settles in a groove (can hear Chester's paws on drums here and small hints of the Cinema Show improvs he will use later)

A very over-rated album, Black Market is (a bit) ruined by the lack of songwriting proper, as this is mostly a Groove & Jam album. While I can understand why some people highly regard this album so highly, I think it is so for the wrong reasons; the main one is the over-the-top virtuosi playing of some members, but although still restrained here, it would only get worse with the next albums. In the meantime, BM is a worthy album that deserves to be heard, but not be lauded to stratospheric heights it usually is.

Sean Trane | 2/5 |

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