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Weather Report

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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3 stars Black Market is notable for the debut of bass legend Jaco Pastorius in Weather Report. Otherwise, it's a step down from the peaks of Mysterious Traveler and Tale Spinnin'. This isn't to say it's a bad album; these guys are far too accomplished for that. But it sounds tossed off in comparision, with inferior compositions and far less care given to the arrangements.
Report this review (#39547)
Posted Friday, July 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is probably Zawinul's first full out world music venture. It's a great album, slightly better than Heavy Weather I think, and most people know this as Jaco's debut with Weather Report, however, you don't really notice Jaco that much. Alphonso Johnson plays REALLY well on his final studio album with Weather Report.

Black Market - 9/10 - Catchy tune. The better, and my favorite of Zawinul's world music stuff. Synth makes it sound a little dated..other wise it'd get a 10.

Cannon Ball - 8/10 - Pretty good ballad. A tribute tune to highly influential saxophonist Cannonball Adderly. He had died fairly recently when the album first came out.

Gibraltar - 9/10 - Great tune. The beginning is beautiful...then it EXPLODES into a very interesting mix of percussion and bass.

Elegant People - 9/10 - I like this tune a lot. Very catchy for some reason, funky as hell too. If I hear this in full I can't get it out of my head.

Three Clowns - 8/10 - Definitely the low point of the album...but it's definitely better than Juggler on Weather Report's next album (Heavy Weather)..

Barbary Coast - 8/10 - It's Jaco again...he's back with some really funky bass lines this time. Pretty good tune.

Herandnu - 8/10 - Synth makes this sound a little dated..but I really like the melody a lot. Wayne does a really good job here too.

Final score - 59/70 - 4.21 stars - Final rating - 4 stars

Report this review (#42204)
Posted Tuesday, August 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
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.
Report this review (#74028)
Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Often overshadowed by Weather Report's next album, "Heavy Weather", this album is at least as good, and has to my ear fresher tunes and arrangements. Not that Heavy Weather isn't great, but Black Market has more delicate, subtle approach, if such terms can ever be applied to jazz fusion.

As another reviewer says, this is Zawinul doing world music - in particular the whole thing has an African feel to it. Some tracks are overdubbed with sounds of e.g. a train, a fog horn, the ocean - normally just the sort of things to annoy this listener but in the context of this album they work very well.

This is the album on which Jaco Pastorius joined the band, though he only plays on two tracks, the rest being down to the more lyrical but less flashy, Alphonso Johnson. The sleeve notes tell us that Zawinul resisted Jaco's please to join the band until Johnson left of his own accord. It's Johnson here though that excels, in particular on "Gibraltar", my personal favourite.

The tracks in order are: 1) Black Market - a Zawinul compostion with Shorter on (I think) lyricon; 2) Cannonball, Zawinul's tribute to the recently departed Cannonball Adderley, a shorter track with more of a structure than most, and featuring Jaco on bass (and it is a grandstand performance); then the aforesaid 3) Gibraltar in which Zawinul and Shorter weave tunes, held together by Johnson's great bass lines. All these three tracks are Zawinul compositions. Side 2 as was on vinyl features 4) Elegant People - a really great Shorter contribution with a memorable melody, and great sax playing from the man; 5) Three Clowns - Shorter again - this merits repeat listenings, although it lacks the immediacy of some of the other tracks; 6) Barbary Coast - the shortest track, penned by Pastorius; and finally 7) Herandu which is by Johnson, his swansong with the band, that starts and finishes with a great sequence, book ending improvisational playing from the two leads, Shorter and Zawinul.

Unlike some so called fusion, it could never be accused of being bland - but it is a real pleasure to listen to over again. And it's lasted well - doesn't sound over 30 years old. A thoroughly enjoyable listen. A solid 4 stars.

Report this review (#122439)
Posted Wednesday, May 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars An album that definitely should get more recognition on this site. I found myself surprised when I realised that Weather Report had so few reviews on a site like this. By now, I can't find any explanation for this, but all I can say is that this band, and specially this album should get much more recognition on ProgArchives.

Concerning to "Black Market", it's a fantastic jazz rock journey, with, of course, impeccable latinesque percussion. When listening to this album, I realised how inspired were the guys to create something so good, and, while not being very technical or complex, everything is put on its right place, and I had enjoyed it a lot. We all know the extremely high caliber of the musicians: GOD Jaco Pastorius, Shorter, Zawinul, Acuña, Johnson, the great Chester Thompson, and others, who had all the inspiration needed to create a masterpiece of this caliber. It is relatively easy listening, while compared to technical proggy jazz rock like RTF's "Romantic Warrior", and when you get totally into the music, your head will be blown away!

Well, about the music: everything here is very good, but the highlights to me are: the tremendous opener, the classic "Black Market", which some memorable melodies and strong solo moments, 'eargasm' moments; "Cannon Ball" which is a quiet relaxing spacey song, that contrasts very good with the power of the opener and the follower, with another great melody; "Gibraltar" IS a total masterpiece of the genre, it's almost impossible to describe it, let the music speak for itself and blow your head away!; "Elegant People" is specially enjoyable and very, very well composed, with amazing sax work; "Barbary Coast" starts with a memorable bass riff, and groovy God Jaco's bass lines all over the song, with great improvised solos.

Overall, this is a must for any good music lover, specially those into the Fusion genre. And the bass work here is one of the greatest things that have ever happened to the instrument. MASTERPIECE!

Rating: 4.8/5

Jaco R.I.P.

Report this review (#126701)
Posted Sunday, June 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is 1970s jazz at its best: the music is so bright, poetic and varied it just cannot fail to uplift the listener. Back in 1976, Weather Report boasted a superb rhythm section which propelled their music naturally and with the greatest ease. The band's main composer (Joe Zawinul) had achieved a mastery over Fender Rhodes piano and synths which allowed him to play the airiest solos. On ballad-like pieces such as "Cannon Ball" Wayne Shorter would play supremely tender sax as well. BLACK MARKET's title tune, available on MP3 streaming above, will give you an excellent idea of what the album is like - as long as you bear in mind that some of the other pieces (most notably "Gibraltar" and "Herandnu") sound even more joyful and ecstatic.

To my feeling, BLACK MARKET is Weather Report's most remarkable studio album; it's far better than the over-praised HEAVY WEATHER, which is notable only for spawning the hit single "Birdland". Until recently, I would have hesitated to call this "a masterpiece of progressive music", but I now realise it is even better qualified for such a title than LED ZEPPELIN IV or THE WHO LIVE AT LEEDS, which have reaped a lot of praise on Prog Archives. So, five stars it shall be!

Report this review (#130783)
Posted Monday, July 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
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.

Report this review (#134147)
Posted Wednesday, August 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ahhh, the sweet and soothing sound of perfected Jazz / Rock fusion comes drifting on over from the Black Market...

This caliber of Fusion rock is scarcely reached, even by top musicians. The way that each song flows peacefully, without being boring, and still being very fun and uplifting is astonishing. There is definitely not a dull moment on this dynamic ranging Jazz album (You can hear Reggae, Rock, Funk, Psychedelia etc...); You are either put into a Jazzy trance, or you are bombarded with quick beats, and some nifty bass playing (not to mention superb keyboards and saxophone). All musicians play in unison, creating atmospheres of Jazzy Africa. However, certain instruments call out above the others. I think everyone will notice the phenomenal Bass Playing by Alphonso Johnson (and Jaco Pastorius ain't to shabby either!), and of course the tremendous Drums laid down by Chester Thompson. Highlight tracks are easy to point out too (not that the others are weak): Black Market, with an almost Jazzy reggae feel to it at parts. Then there is the center piece of the album; Gibraltar, which is also the longest track of the album. Gibraltar is the most rock oriented track on the album, a very bombastic fusion style. Next is the Jazziest Funk you'll ever hear Barbary Coast, with some STELLAR bass playing. The final track is my favourite, Herandnu, with the the most psychedelic Jazz I've ever heard.

This album is an ABSOLUTE MUST HAVE to any Jazz fan, or serious Progressice Rock lover. Long live Jazz fusion!

Report this review (#175848)
Posted Tuesday, July 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars I guess you could call this a transitional album as they would start to make more accessible music from here on out. There would be a lot more of that found on the next one "Heavy Weather". Jaco was introduced on this album although he's only on two tracks, one of which he composed. Alphonso Johnson is still the bass player at this point although he would leave after this one to join Billy Cobham and his new musical adventure with George Duke. Chester Thompson of Zappa fame drums on the last five tracks, although he helps out on the title track too. I have to say that there are points on this album that i'm almost dizzy listening to the collage of sounds, it's pure bliss. The fact that there is some world class percussion on every song help too.This though is mostly about Shorter and Zawinul who composed 5 of the 7 tracks.

"Black Market" opens with the sounds of a market as it builds to a pleasant melody. So much going on after 1 1/2 minutes. Amazing ! Love the percussion.The sax and bass are more prominant after 2 1/2 minutes. As the song draws to a close it settles down more and more. "Cannon Ball" is dedicated to Zawinul's friend and alto sax player Julian "Cannonball" Adderley who had just passed away months before this recording. This is where we hear Jaco for the first time on this album. This is very relaxing and enjoyable although the keys are jarring at times early on. Sax after 2 1/2 minutes as the sound gets fuller. Nice drumming after 3 minutes and then it settles to a calm after 4 minutes. "Gibralter" opens with the sounds of water and a ship. Sax takes over beautifully. An explosion of sound before 1 1/2 minutes. The drumming sounds incredible, so crisp as the bass throbs. The sax is back before 4 minutes. Zawinul is really fantastic on this song as well as he comes and goes. Check it out 6 minutes in, so much going on ! Shorter is letting it rip after 7 minutes. What a song !

"Elegant People" features percussion that is simply a pleasure to listen to. The sax and keys after 1 1/2 minutes amaze. "Three Clowns" with the synths and atmosphere brings to mind the previous album "Mysterious Traveller". Then a slow sax melody comes in with piano before 2 minutes. "Barbary Coast" is Jaco's composition. It opens with the sound of a train going by. Then it's Jaco's prominant bass lines that steal the show. This one is funky and you gotta love it. Sax and keys are also featured. "Herandnu" is my favourite track on here and is a Johnson composition. He sure left the band on a high ! This sounds so good ! Drums, sax, keys and bass create a fantastic sound early. A change before 1 1/2 minutes with what sounds like fuzz bass then the tempo picks up. These guys blow me away on this song.

A must have in my opinion for you Jazz fans out there. It's not just the playing it's those arrangements as well that are so impressive.

Report this review (#190640)
Posted Thursday, November 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Weather Report sixth studio labum from 1976 named Black market. This is no doubt one of my fav album ever , not only from jazz - fusion zone, but from all music. It has that something that I always love on this album, he can grab my attention every time I listening to and never get bored, but aswell maybe is not as stunning as other masterpieces from jazz but for sure is an intristing , well performed album all the way. From the art cover 'till the last tune this is an essential album for everybody intrested in jazz and in complex elements that defines jazz-fusion. On this album featuring some great musicians, like Chester Thompson on drums , Alex Acuna (one of the best percutionists ever from jazz) and Jaco Pastorius on bass, but only on two tracks Cannon Ball and Barbary Coast and some others awesome ones aswell. So the music is jazz with funk arrangements that because of Pastorius bass lines, and in places some very intristing brass elements fullfiled the album in a great manner of interpretation. Black market can be considered, at least from my side, as one of the best albums ever, manly because the music is varied, smooth and elegant. The best pieces all, but with a plus on Black market, Gibraltar or Three clowns. Un overlooked album by jazz lovers considered unintristing and many times with a lack of musical direction. So an essential album, that stands in time very well, so I will vote as 5 stars album without hesitation.
Report this review (#190811)
Posted Saturday, November 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Black Market" was one of only a handful of albums able to fulfill the Fusion promise, which elsewhere always seemed to sway too far one way or another (is it rock? is it jazz?) without ever locating that elusive tertium quid. Here the synthesis is complete and organic, effortlessly borrowing the best from both worlds, and others besides: chiefly an awareness of Third World musical aesthetics.

Listen to the extended fade-in of that playful signature riff in the title track, a personal favorite of composer/keyboard wizard Joe Zawinul. Besides being irresistibly catchy it gives the other players plenty of space in which to solo, and could just as easily have been continued forever, as the gradual unresolved ending suggests.

With track titles like "Gibraltar" and "Barbary Coast" the music is placed geographically somewhere along the sun-drenched shores of the Mediterranean Sea, and the same warmth pervades every performance on the album. Zawinul and ace horn player Wayne Shorter (alumni of the groundbreaking Fusion experiments by MILES DAVIS half a decade earlier) are of course the twin axis around which the band orbits, and their combined talents help fuse together a line-up in flux at the very moment the album was being recorded.

Drummer Chester Thompson came and went (his skills would be wasted in post-Prog GENESIS soon afterward); ditto Narada Michael Walden, who would later surface on ROBERT FRIPP's debut solo album "Exposure". The bass guitar chair was likewise insecure, until the arrival, mid-session, of John Francis Pastorius III, better known as Jaco: one of the premier ambassadors the instrument has ever known. He's only featured on two cuts, but it's easy to spot them without even checking the credits: few other bassists play with such distinctive hyper-manic dexterity.

It's an all-too brief album (only 37+ minutes), but each of the seven tracks is a model of improvisatory grace. And unlike its popular follow-up (the 1977 bestseller "Heavy Weather") no single composition is allowed to dominate.

The best Jazz-Rock Fusion has to navigate a delicate balance between opposing musical forces in order to work. This is one of those rare examples that makes it look easy.

Report this review (#221842)
Posted Friday, June 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars WR guesses that distinguished services of the activity in the 70's are the flows that surely draw the deriving flow from Miles Davis. Their music exactly contained various elements and fixed the frame of Jazz/Fusion. The work that had been announced the performance that they had done was a result of the enough consent even if the technology and knowledge were considered.

Time when Alphonso Johnson was on the register might have been groping for the directionality of a certain kind of experiment and music for WR. It was true that there were determination and a creation to take the element of Groove from the world of a space sound of the band. The act that has been done to make them an embodiment can be confirmed by "Mysteriou Traveller" and "Tale Spinnin'". I certainly felt the directionality to some degree though it concluded successfully there was a loose a few impressions, too.

It will inform the world of the brain of rise Zawinul-Shorter with WR whenever the value of the band announces the work of course. In the group of this legend, the counterplan might be established by Jazz/Fusion as a result at that time and degree of freedom of the member who is related to the group and abundant ideas be factors of their charms.

Zawinul came to have leadership in the group gradually. It worked on this work at ..Wayne Shoretr.. position of Co-Producer and. However, Shorter was already indispensable existence for the group for Zawinul. It becomes a legend further by Jaco Pastorius that participates from this work. WR has succeeded because Pastorius with the element of Groove enough participates in the increase of degree of freedom and the obedient reflection of the color of Zawinul in the work. Pastorius participates only in two in this album. However, he digests the element of current WR enough and is appealing because of the performance.

The tune and the composition in which the color of various music is sprinkled without [**] cracking to the item of Jazz/Fusion advance with a splendid flow. WR reached the peak surely by this album in the item of Jazz/Fusion.

The existence of WR shifted to the flow of Zawinul-Shorter-Pastorius and expanded directionality and the width of WR from this work. It appears remarkably obviously in the performance of Pastorius and the composed tune. If the entire flow of the album is considered, the whole might be able to be caught easily. However, the performance of Pastorius obviously demonstrates the difference with other tunes. Pastorius might already have left the legend.

The route is established by "Heavy Weather" further and informs the world of the existence of Pastorius. The fan of Shorter had the opinion made for the ad-lib of his Sax to have decreased on the boundary of this "Black Market". However, it is true that directionality and the role of the group are established and each member's idea and performance were demonstrated. Atmosphere by the member can be understood from listening to the work. And, WR surely reached the top and became a masterpiece that exceeded the frame of Jazz/Fusion at the same time by this album.

Report this review (#227189)
Posted Friday, July 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Black Market" is the 6th full-length studio album by US Jazz rock/Fusion act Weather Report. The album was released through CBS/Columbia Records in March 1976. As usual there are a couple of changes to the lineup since the last album. Bassist Alphonso Johnson is still present on the album but future bassist Jaco Pastorius is introduced on the tracks "Cannon Ball" and on his own relatively short composition "Barbary Coast". Narada Michael Walden plays the drums on "Black Market" and "Cannon Ball" while future Genesis drummer Chester Thompson, fresh out of a stint with Frank Zappa & The Mothers plays the drums on the rest of the tracks. New percussionist is Alejandro Neciosup Acuña (Don Elias plays percussion on "Black Market" and "Barbary Coast"). The ususal suspects are Wayne Shorter on saxophone and Joe Zawinul on acoustic & electric pianos and keyboards/synths.

I´m not sure what happened between "Tale Spinnin' (1975)" and "Black Market" but the latter is so much more vibrant, inspired, and powerful than it´s predecessor. The lineup changes are of course a big part of the explanation but it´s not only the playing that makes "Black Market" such an incredible album. The 7 tracks on the 37:17 minutes long album are simply outstanding. The more structured jazz rock/fusion style with memorable themes that was introduced on "Mysterious Traveller (1974)" and continued on "Tale Spinnin' (1975)" is perfected here.

Expect an explosion of powerful soloing, great rythmic playing and tightly structured jazz rock/fusion tracks. There´s still an air of adventure in the music (like on the early albums by the band) that I greatly enjoy though so the tight structures never kill the passion which is something I felt happened to some degree on "Tale Spinnin' (1975)". One of the things I´m going to mention in addition to the always strong playing by Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul are the playing of the new drummers and percussionists. Some of the best rythmic playing I´ve heard on a jazz rock/fusion album. To top it all off the sound production is warm, detailed, organic and powerful. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved.

Report this review (#233790)
Posted Saturday, August 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Black Market is a surprisingly effective record considering that it showcases Weather Report in their transitional stage with the whole rhythmic section in a state of motion. The effectiveness of the recording comes from its consistency that I so far missed on the two other Weather Report albums that I've had the pleasure of hearing so far.

The album consists of a steady stream of great Jazz Rock/Fusion work that doesn't gets interrupted by any inconsistencies which I've experienced on both I Sing The Body Electric and the follow-up release Heavy Weather. Besides, judging from the ratings that all of the other Weather Report albums have gathered, Black Market seems to be the only album of its kind. Side one consists entirely out of Joe Zawinul's compositions and its also where the record shines the most. Maybe I'm a bit biased about my opinion since I've always preferred the delicate synthesizers and piano based Joe Zawinul-compositions over the much rougher Wayne Shorter work. Still even Shorter manages to outdo himself with Elegant People that easily takes my no.2 spot right after Cannon Ball.

Towards the end of the album we also get one track from each of the bass players that really show how far apart Jaco Pastorius and Alphonso Johnson were with their approach to music writing and its delivery. Barbary Coast is a funky and playful composition that gives us a preview of the bass work that Jaco Pastorius will be so famous for. Alphonso Johnson's Herandnu sounds to me like a more ambitious composition and it would have been interesting to hear more of his work works in this band's setting.

This is easily my pick for a record that should be heard by the newcomers to both Weather Report but also Jazz Rock/Fusion in general since it features everything that is so great about the genre. Simply put, an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection.

***** star songs: Cannon Ball (4:41)

**** star songs: Black Market (6:30) Gibraltar (7:49) Elegant People (5:04) Three Clowns (3:27) Barbary Coast (3:11) Herandnu (6:39)

Report this review (#285996)
Posted Friday, June 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Black Market's well known successor Heavy Weather tends to get all the love in more mainstream musical circles. My first introduction to the band was definitely through it. Largely on account of it being billed has a high watermark in the history of jazz fusion. I am inclined to believe that this rests primarily on the shoulders of its admittedly pitch perfect ringer, Birdland and to a lesser extent Palladium and Teen Town. It's a fine place to start but it most certainly is not the place to finish your exploration of the fabulously talented Weather Report.

For my next venture into the band, I decided to take one step back to Black Market. It may be a step back in time, but in my opinion it is a big step forward musically. Zwainul's three writer's credits which lead off the album flow seamlessly from one into the next in a way that Heavy Weather simply cannot match. Individually they are not quite as strong as Birdland, taken as a group however this threesome's considerably funkier slow burn is preferable to the all at once conflagration. The remainder of the album is not quite as solid as the anchor, but it still handily beats the balance of tracks on Heavy Weather.

Let's bust it down track by track. First up is the world influenced and masterfully funky Black Market. After the chattering of market goers, the beats start pounding and Zwainul's incredibly smooth keyboard playing slides in to take control. From there the tempo and the variety of sounds both gradually pick up until around the two and a half minute mark when the constantly crashing cymbals are forming the foundation for a series incredibly colourful displays by the Zwainul and horn section. I'll issue a small disclaimer. If you are not a fan of the sax as I know some aren't you may not be in luck. The volume and pace gradually settles down and the piece closes to the sound of artillery going off to complete the third world imagery. There is a tonne of variety to this piece. If you are at curious about it I highly recommend checking out here on PA.

Keeping with the more or less sombre close out to Black Market; Cannonball beings in an even more comatose state. Underneath the soft keyboards, the quiet but active drumming foretells the coming action. At about the two minute mark the calm veneer begins to strip away in favour of some exploratory jazz rock. My only regret on Cannonball is that the drums are never given the front seat that they richly deserve. It is hard to argue with the great keyboard playing though. As abruptly as it came, the action departs around the three and a half minute mark for an extended fade out. Not quite as strong as the leading track, but still well worth it.

After the mostly calm of Cannonball we make our way to the apparently jazzy shores of Gibraltar. Water effects and fog horns lead into another soft intro for the longest piece on the album. This is progressive rock and this site wouldn't stand for it if it didn't progress. Things take an abrupt jump in intensity for another primarily keyboard driven jazz cruise at about one minute in. The intensity stays about constant with some continually more impressive keyboard work backed by strong drum work from Chester Thompson. My favourite part of this extended riffing comes at around five and a half minutes in, when Zwainul lays down some very funky scales. They make another brief appearance during some hot sax work at the end of the track. Another great feature of this track is the withered sounding keyboard which appears sprinkled throughout. It's a step up from Cannonball, but not quite as good as Black Market.

At this point, the song writing unfortunately passes out of the exceeding capable hands to make a tour of the rest of the band. The songs are still strong, but they seem to lack the "Je ne sais quoi" of the first three tracks. Elegant People has dropped some, but not all of the world music influences for a more cosmopolitan feel; perhaps largely due to the clear crisp sax work which is front and centre. It starts its life as one of the more laid back tracks on the album only to follow in the footsteps of Cannonball and reveal itself to be surprisingly energetic.

The low point of Black Market is Three Clowns. These three Clowns must be quite tragic characters. Their piece is mostly quite sparse and subdued. Flashes of synthesizer come in over an otherwise barren landscape consisting of scattered landscape of dissonant drum strikes and piano keys. It feels out of place on an otherwise exciting album. It also happens to almost be the shortest piece on the album and it's quickly forgotten as Jaco's first showpiece comes up.

Barbary Coast is sonically not quite like anything else on the album. The bass has been somewhat of a non-entity up to that point. It comes in thick and funky right out of the train tunnel. The rest of the band is good, but it's just so much diversion when placed overtop such fascinating bass playing. It is the shortest track and its sort of comes off as "Hi, my names Jaco and I play the bass." It's good but not really a highlight of the album.

Rounding out the album is Herandu, which is probably my pick for the top non-Zwainul track. For the most part it's a lower key high energy grind. Despite not being a Zwainul track, his thick sound is king on Herandu. While not quite as tight as Gibraltar or Black Market it makes for an excellent full band effort and closing the album on a strong note. These plenty of stylistic change ups as well; making for perhaps the most progressive piece on the album as well.

Black Market is a diverse album, probably largely owing to the wide array of instruments, musicians and composers. The line up is hardly the same from track to track. I would easily recommend it for anyone curious about what jazz fusion has to offer. It isn't a perfect album, but it's funky and intelligent. It would make excellent addition to any progressive music collection. A strong four stars out of a possible five for Black market.

Report this review (#288598)
Posted Tuesday, June 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Enter 1976 and the once mighty and innovating force that was Weather Report returns with one last strong album. Not with the daring might of old but with a smoother and more accessible type of fusion that is executed very thoughtfully and tastefully, creating a thick atmosphere that is simultaneously melancholic, groovy, melodious, ethnic and cheerful.

Their previous attempt at more commercial fusion (Tale Spinning) largely failed artistically, but this time they were more successful and created an inspired album that is both moody and virtuoso, sometimes groovy and sometimes melodic. The album flows nicely all the way and even if it lacks truly standout tracks it is very consistent and pleasing.

The spirit of innovation and creative excitement that existed on the first three WR albums has greatly disappeared but overall this is a fine example of progressive ethnic jazz-funk-rock that can serve as a safe fusion entry point for symphonic-oriented audiences. 3.5 stars for me.

Report this review (#307154)
Posted Friday, October 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Though the band had long been established--inspired by Miles Davis' Bitches Brew sessions in the summer of 1969--ths is one of the band's most popular albums. While the sounds or stylings of Joe Zawinal and Wayne Shorter never really wowed me, the ensemble sound, unusual (and engaging) melodies, and great performances from the extraordinary Weather Report rhythm section always drew me in. Here we are graced with various combinations of contributions from bassists Alphonso Johnson and Jaco Pastorius, drummers Narada Michael Walden and Chester Thompson, and percussionists Don Elias and Alejandro "Alex" Acuña. What a treat!

Five star songs: 7. "Herandnu" (6:38) Alfonso Johnson penned this final song of the album--and a beauty it is! For me this is the band at their most dynamic and joyful. (9/10); 2. "Cannon Ball" (4:40) the band's first contribution from Jaco Pastorius (9/10); 3. "Gibraltar" (7:49) (9/10), and; the percussionist's treat 4. "Elegant People" (5:03) (9/10).

Four star songs: 1. "Black Market" (6:30) (8.5/10); 5. "Three Clowns" (3:27) (8/10); 6. "Barbary Coast" (3:10) Jaco's first compositional contribution to the band. This is Jaco doing Jaco while the band supports. (8/10).

While the performances are masterful throughout this album, I don't feel that the compositions are as strong or as memorable as those from other WR albums. Four stars.

Report this review (#459501)
Posted Sunday, June 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is probably the best Weather Report album. After changing style from avant-guarde jazz oriented fusion to more slick and melodical, actually more rocking kind of fusion on Tale Spinnin, two years ago, Black Market is where the full benefits of this turnove can be enjoyed, and probably by much greater spectre of prog music lovers. It is still very much jazz-rock, with fantastic jazzy solos by all the mebers of the band. But in the same time, the numbers are very melodical, and even symfo-rocky, although often a little weird, but always really groovy. I very much value this weirdness, which adds a lot of listening pleasure. The album sounds as a whole musical creation, it can be listened in one breath. And the good thing is: the longer you listen to it, the more yoy like it. Even now, 40 years later, it sounds fresh and very much up-to-date. If you have listened to Kilimanjaro Secret Brew by Roine Stolt and Jonas Reingold, you would know were they came from :-)
Report this review (#512743)
Posted Thursday, September 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars A delicious slice of ethnic 70s fusion from Zawinul and Shorter, with their ever-changing rhythm section perhaps reaching a peak on this album, introducing bass extraordinaire Jaco Pastorius into the fold and briefly featuring Zappa/Genesis drummer Chester Thompson. The music is mostly quite soft, blending jazz with more of a world style than a rock style. Although most of the tunes are soothing, friendly and accessible, the band do go a bit crazy on occasion, delivering some of their finest moments of group improvisation. In particular, the drumming and percussion on Black Market are extremely virtuosic, bursting with polyrhythms and syncopations, often within quite obscure time signatures.

Zawinul composed the whole first side of the album, which has three pieces characterised by his soft synth melodies and vibrant rhythms. The tribute piece 'Cannonball' is almost a pop ballad without lyrics (I mean that in a good way), while the light, happy title track and more intense 'Gibraltar' contain some fine riffs and solos. The synth patches favoured by everyone during the late 70s do sound a little dated now, and I would have preferred Zawinul to play something a bit more timeless like a Moog, but this is a minor complaint. When these synth tones (which echo what the 80s would sound like) were new, they probably seemed a lot more exciting, but they haven't aged as well as the simple, basic analogue patches used earlier in the decade and in more recent digital music.

Wayne Shorter's sax is not so abundant on this album, but he contributes two compositions, the fairly complex 'Elegant People' and the strange, eerie 'Three Clowns'. The former is another decent fusion track with some interesting timbres going on (Joe even uses a piano! I know! A Piano! How many jazzers used those in 1976????). But the latter song comes from nowhere and goes nowhere really, lacking a beat, any proper melodies or even creating a nice mood. Then, new recruit Pastorius gives us a fine groove in 'Barbary Coast', taking the listener to yet another exotic location by aural means. The closing 'Herandnu' is my favourite, written by the other bass player who would soon leave, Alphonso Johnson. In 11/8 throughout, the piece contains a fantastically sinister groove, where maniacal drumming, squealing sax and dynamic keyboard-playing float around a solid bass line, all bookended by an epic synth motif.

Black Market is clearly a favourite Weather Report album amongst fans, along with it's more successful follow-up, and I am fond of it too. The main draw are the jam-like sections, and when they're good, the melodies. A couple of throwaways and the less-than-pleasant keyboard sounds prevent it from being any kind of masterpiece, but it is a solid and ridiculously well-performed album, which serves as an excellent introduction to the second fertile period of jazz fusion.

Report this review (#544044)
Posted Thursday, October 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars A consistently catchy album of comparatively accessible fusion from Weather Report, Black Market gets a lot of props for being Jaco Pastorius' first album with the group, though in actuality he only appears on two tracks. Granted, one of them is his own Barbary Coast, but I the fact that this empty technical showboating made it onto the album as being a fairly clear symptom of the weakness of the songwriting this time around. Personally, I don't consider Black Market to be the unalloyed classic it's often made out to be - not only are the band playing a style of fusion which by this point in the 1970s had become fairly safe and mainstream, they don't even do anything particularly novel or interesting with it.
Report this review (#548820)
Posted Wednesday, October 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars A lot of my friends who were into fusion in the seventies, the same friends who introduced me to Return To Forever, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Brand X, were also into Weather Report. And while I appreciate the talent of this band, and really love some of their individual work in other bands, I never really found the band's albums very exciting. And this, with some good but not great fusion, is no exception.

I think the main problem I have with Weather Report stems from Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter. With Shorter, he seems to concentrate on the soprano sax in this group. Soprano Sax to me usually brings to mind easy listening jazz. And Shorter's playing with Weather Report never seems to catch fire. And on Three Clowns, where I presume he's playing the lyricon, his noodling is just awful.

With Zawinul, it's the synth patches he chooses. Occasionally he finds a cool sound, but usually his patches just bore me.

All that said, there are some songs I like on this album. Most notably, Herandu comes very close to being what I like to hear in fusion. And Jaco plays on two songs. I can't complain about that.

Report this review (#568995)
Posted Wednesday, November 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars As this album review appeared at the first page of this site my memory jumped back to the seventies era when my blood was predominated with progressive rock music especially symphonic prog with the like of Genesis, Yes, ELP, King Crimson. You guess! I was not interested at all with the release of Weather Report "Black Market" when it was released in the form of music cassette. By that time my only collection was in the format of cassettes nothing else because it's affordable to me and quite practical - I could bring it anywhere I wanted unlike vinyl let alone its unaffordable price. I purchased the cassette of Black Market BUT I did not have time to spin it - or put it honestly ..... I had no intention at all to get across other music than prog rock because at that time it was THE only music that I loved most.

It was my prog colleague, Ian Arliandy who stayed in Bandung, forced me to have a listen of this album when I took engineering degree in Bandung on 1979. I met Ian only on 1980, I think, and that meant it was already four years the album had been released officially. Oh man .... I was surprised the first time I listened to this album. It's not the kind of jazz that I thought the album would sound - it's totally out of my prediction! I was blown away by the opening track which happened to be the album title Black Market .... Oh my God! I loved it very much! The first time I listened to it I put my attention on the dynamic basslines that eally sounded great to my ears. But later I also found the brass section especially by Wayne Shorter (a name that I was familiar already at that time - I do not remember how I knew this name at first place). Finally I loved the total track; the music is so wonderful.

I then started exploring some other tracks and found 'Cannon Ball' (4:40) not so interesting the first time I played but it then grew on me as part of overall music offering - it provides great musical break after the dynamic of the first track. 'Gibraltar' (7:49) is also a nice track as it's dynamic and has many tempo changes. It starts silent but after the first minute the music is very dynamic and it has many textures combining all instruments including very good drumming / percussion work augmented with sax and keyboard work. Of course bass guitar still play important role.

The whole album is excellent one and I love the last two tracks at the end of the album: 'Barbary Coast' (3:10) and 'Herandnu' (6:38). Since then I kepte an eye on the development of Weather Report as well as Jaco Pastorius / Joe Zawinul. An album that you should not miss...... Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#569036)
Posted Wednesday, November 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars In 1978-79 I listened for the first time to this band with an album called "Mr-Gone" which I didn`t like. Since then I realized that this band, as others in any musical style, wasn`t really a band. It was really a "team" of two main composers and leaders (Zawinul and Shorter) with other musicians who were more like their "employees". So, the line-ups never were permanent due to these situations. Unfortunately, egos reign in the music business, and with the passing of time they cause a lot of problems in the interactions, friendships and work among the musicians.

I really wanted to listen to this album because I read that drummer Chester Thompson participated in it. I consider him as one of the best drummers I have listened to, so I listened to this album. First, as I do many times before listening to an album or to a band, I read about their history and the circunstances on which this album was recorded. I also found in the web an interview done with Thompson some years ago on which he explains how he was involved with this band. He said that he played with this band after being for several years with Frank Zappa`s band, but Zappa split his band for a time, so Thompson was unemployed, but fortunately he was a very good friend of bassist Alphonso Johnson (who also participated in this album). Both played in this band for more or less a year before Johnson left the band durig the recording of this album in late 1975. Having secured a recording contract for his own projects, he simply didn`t appear in the studio (without telling anybody about this) when the band returned to the recording sessions in early 1976. Zawinul and Shorter assumed that Thompson, being a very good friend of Johnson`s also wasn´t going to return to the band, but Thompson returned, and then he found two new "members" in the band: drummer Michael Walden (also a very good drummer) and bassist Jaco Pastorious (a very good bassist like Johnson, but with a more complicated style in comparison). So, Thompson was then informed that he wasn`t required as drummer anymore and he wasn`t treated well in this situation and this caused some problems. Anyway, after recording two musical pieces (the first two which appear in the album) with Walden and Pastorious, the leaders finally realized that Walden`s style wasn´t as compatible to the band as Thompson`s , so Thompson returned to the recording sessions to record a final track, but his style wasn`t compatible with Pastorius`, and this with also the strain in the personal relationship with the leaders led Thompson to leave the band after the album was completed.

Well. After writing about the "usual politics" in bands, I can say that this album is very good. The compositions are very good and the tracks on which Thompson and Johnson recorded together are the best in this album, particularly the last track in this album called "Heradnu", composed by Johnson. At least it seems that the main composers and leaders gave some "musical freedom" to Thompson and Johnson, who as a team worked very well. Pastorius and Walden also are very good musicians, of course. So, after listening to this album my musical opinion about this band changed because the style of the album is more in the Jazz-Rock Fusion style in comparison to "Mr. Gone" which was more in the Funky and Disco styles. So, this album really deserves the respect it has as a very good Jazz-Rock Fusion album (despite the "usual politics" which are really a shame but they happen very often in the music business).

A final "correction": Thompson said in that interview that the first track in this album is really an edit of two versions of the same musical piece, but one recorded with Walden and Pastorius, and the other recorded with him and Johnson.

Report this review (#1034699)
Posted Saturday, September 14, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars This may be overall my favorite WR album. That doesn't mean I believe it's truly a classic like their debut, but it's fun, enjoyable, sophisticated and accessible all at once. Top-notch writing and great performances, with Joe Zawinul adding in more - but not excessive - synthesizers (I'm looking at you, Domino Theory). Not a ton of soloing, but enough to make things interesting.

The title track starts off as a fun trot courtesy of Chester Thompson's laid-back drumming (despite the credits on the remaster, he plays the beginning portion of this song; Narada Michael Walden takes over in the frenetic ending after a hard cymbal edit); Zawinal plays a synth set up in reverse just for the challenge of it and you'd never know the difference. The song starts to wind up before breaking into a full gallop with an almost symphonic synth/sax line before winding down with a Wayne Shorter soprano solo. Just a great song that I never tire of hearing.

Zawinal's tribute to his former bandleader, Julian "Cannonball" Adderly, is a fantastic tune. Gentle synths and warbling bass courtesy of the newly minted Jaco Pastorious occupy much of the song before an almost elegiastic tenor sax solo from Shorter brings the song to an amazing crescendo. The synth/bass theme returns in a coda with more emphasis (likely with help from Shorter) before melting into an ambient section. All highly enjoyable and meaningful.

"Gibraltar" bubbles with energy. Great playing all around (Alex Acuña's percussion here, as it is on the entire album, is excellent), and some great synth and sax interplay. A terrific first side by any standard.

Side two begins with "Elegant People". Wayne Shorter has always been sort of my "George Harrison" when it comes to WR - not as prolific as "Lennon/McCartney" (Zawinul), but I probably favor his songs the most (or at least a higher percentage of them). This is one of my faves by this group and by Shorter himself - probably one of my top three WR tracks ever. I particularly love the piano near the beginning before the main theme of the song breaks in. Terrific drums and percussion (again), and Alphonso Johnson's bass playing is melodic and energetic. Shorter's terrific solo in the middle is the icing on a very delicious cake. (Can you tell I love this song?)

After such a great song (great four songs, really), "Three Clowns" is a bit of a letdown. It's definitely an attempt at being truly experimental on the strange-sounding lyricon, but having it as a central instrument with very sparse surroundings makes it just not work very well. It doesn't even work as a tone poem like "The Elders" or "Badia". Given that jazz is about pushing boundaries, though, I can forgive this as a failed attempt to do something original and appreciate the spirit in which it is offered.

"Barbary Coast" is a bouncy, poppish electric piano/bass/sax tune that doesn't have a ton of variety but is highly enjoyable nonetheless. Pastorious made a nice start in the group here as a composer (his debut album is terrific as well) and his playing and writing would become essential to the WR sound for the next several albums.

The album finishes with Johnson's "Herandnu", which starts with Shorter blowing over an odd synth/bass time signature before breaking out into a more traditional rhythm with lots of nice interplay. A bit overlong, perhaps, but still enjoyable, and a nice valedictory for Johnson in the band.

Is it perfect? No. There are a few not-so-classic moments in the album's latter half. But the first four songs alone are all five-star efforts, and the more experimental or poppish material later is still better than many groups could ever hope to achieve on their best day. The playing is awesome, and the composing is at worst good and at best outstanding. I break this out often after many listens, and will continue to do so. Four enthusiastic stars.

Report this review (#1435792)
Posted Sunday, July 5, 2015 | Review Permalink

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