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WEATHER REPORT - Black Market cover
3.69 | 32 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1976

Filed under Fusion


A1 Black Market 6:30
A2 Cannon Ball 4:40
A3 Gibraltar 7:49
B1 Elegant People 5:03
B2 Three Clowns 3:27
B3 Barbary Coast 3:10
B4 Herandnu 6:38

Total Time: 37:07


- Jaco Pastorius / Bass [Fender]
- Wayne Shorter / Saxophone [Selmer Soprano, Selmer Tenor], Strings [Lyricon By Computone]
- Chester Thompson / Drums [Ludwig]
- Alejandro Neciosup Acuna / Percussion, Congas
- Joe Zawinul / Piano [Yamaha Grand], Keyboards [Rhodes Electric Piano], Synthesizer [2 Arp 2600, Oberheim Polyphonic]

About this release

Columbia – PC 34099 (US)

Recorded at Devonshire Sound, No. Hollywood, California

Thanks to snobb for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"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; ditto Narada Michael Walden. 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.

Members reviews

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.
Sean Trane
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.

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