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Weather Report - Black Market CD (album) cover

BLACK MARKET

Weather Report

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.95 | 176 ratings

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daveconn
Prog Reviewer
4 stars One of the band's best fusion records and a harbinger of the fine things to come on Heavy Weather. All this despite the fact that the rhythm section was again in a state of flux, with Jaco Pastorius replacing Alphonso Johnson on bass and Chester Thompson, Don Alias and Narada Michael Walden passing through their ranks. The opening "Black Market" is a treat, breaking open into a joyous melody that invites comparison to Frank Zappa and Soft Machine. "Cannon Ball" is smooth and soulful, with little musical epiphanies that play out in an unfolding and evolving discovery process, while "Gibraltar" begins with a sea voyage and arrives at a world of comfort and conflict, a yin and yang embodied in long mournful notes and angular interjections which blur the line between Wayner Shorter's horns and Zawinul's synthesizers. The opening ship's horn is worth returning to, since it's a technique that reoccurs often here, from the opening market sounds on the title track to the sound of a train rumbling along on "Barbary Coast." Weather Report takes you places with these songs, and they seem to understand that each track is a self-contained destination, a short trip to somewhere. It's something you just don't hear in jazz that often, this incorporation of environmental sounds to transform music into an exotic landscape. Wayne Shorter receives the compositional reins from Zawinul on side two, and his long, loping stride can be felt on both "Elegant People" and the sentimental "Three Clowns." The saxophonist leans away from the fusion side toward more traditional jazz, finding room for some spicy percussion on the former. Next is the Pastorius-penned "Barbary Coast," which marked the beginning of the bassist's trademark sound, a rubbery funky line complemented by Zawinul's mechanical clanks that oozes groove. Alphonso Johnson's "Herandnu" closes things on an interesting note, an intoxicating and airborne melody that liberates the listener like a leaf in the wind before getting down to business. More than merely an appetizer for Heavy Weather, Black Market is a self-standing feast in its own right and should be sought out by anyone who hungers for intelligent, exotic fusion.
daveconn | 4/5 |

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