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Weather Report - Black Market CD (album) cover


Weather Report


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.02 | 307 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
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.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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