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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
15
4.5 out of 5 stars
Black Market
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on 27 May 2017
My favourite Weather Report album when it just came out back then & still is. Love Elegant People !!
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on 8 May 2008
Not as easy listening as their follow up, the highly successful 'Heavy Weather' AND more compositional and less jam heavy than their earlier 'Mysterious Traveller' album, this album's music is the perfect balance between burning organic fluid improvisation and structured balanced composition. To my mind it is the best Weather Report album and the one I would recommend to first time listeners.
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on 10 December 2010
By the time Shorter and Zawinul's Weather Report recorded this, their 6th studio album, fusion as a genre had reached its high water mark and was beginning to ebb or dilute itself. Miles Davis was in retirement, the Mclaughlin and Corea bands had arguably fired their best shots, and Hancock was pushing further into funk. However Weather Report was still on a roll and still evolving and developing; 'Black Market' is the crucial link between the quite staggering sonic advances of 'Mysterious Traveller' and 'Tale Spinning', and the late 1970s L.A. commerciality of 'Heavy Weather'. Although short at 37min.25sec, it represents another home run for the 2 principals.

To really get into this record, one needs to understand just how highly-rated both Zawinul and Shorter - and their band - were at the time. There was no-one else near them in terms of composition and understanding of the possibilities of the genre. The 1st side/1st 3 tracks of 'Black Market' are all Zawinul compositions and form a sequence that says, THIS is how you do it; Weather Report albums always moved and went places, and by now Zawinul had established a method and compositional style within the context of the band, his ever-increasing arsenal of synths and the imperatives of maintaining a major-label record contract.

The melody of the title track is famously played on a 'backwards' keyboard, over a steadily building major-scale rhythmic pattern which they had sketched on the 1st album, was revisited in one form or another on several occasions over the years, but written as a signature here. An impressionistic and exciting build-up leads to Shorter's entry on the release and his fine solo over a storm of percussion. The cut winds down with the firework sounds that, like the intro 'market' sounds, became a feature of the live shows.

A tribute to 'Cannonball' Adderley, the great alto saxophonist who was Joe Zawinul's employer and mentor, is next; Zawinul at his best was always a fabulous composer, and this is one of his most heartfelt pieces. It also introduces Jaco Pastorius, whose intro and playing to this tune over Zawinul's Rhodes piano was recorded as part of his audition for the band; as we all know, he got the job. Absolutely beautifully gauged and executed. Tremendous dynamics, stunningly evocative writing and arranging with the synths in support of Shorter's short but distilled solo. Classic, and a suitably wonderful and mature tribute.

It is followed by 'Gibraltar', another very notable Zawinul tune with ship/sea sound effects to begin and his patented neat compositional trick of holding the final twists back until the end, then taking your head off with everything at once. Superb. Wayne's soprano sound is well captured and this is another piece where you just have to marvel at the closeness of the saxophone and synth on the melody, which was a Weather Report trademark, along with Shorter's zen-like contributions. There is simply nothing else like Wayne Shorter's playing in Weather Report.

And Shorter weighs in with 'Elegant People', one of his very finest WR compositions and again one that has become a signature; when interviewed for the 'Live and Unreleased' CD notes, Shorter and Zawinul were both asked which tune best represented Weather Report for them. Tellingly, Shorter said 'Elegant People', while Zawinul quickly replied 'Black Market'. Both cuts are on this recording. 'Elegant People'...completely mind-blowing in 1976. What a band.

Unlike the preceding 2 albums, there is no sax/piano duet on this record; instead we get 'Three Clowns', a Shorter tune that has received a bum rap over the years because he plays Lyricon, a synth-sax of the 70s, on it. But it's actually very well taken and thought out; short enough not to outstay its welcome.

Enter Jaco, and 'Barbary Coast' - named after a Florida nightclub - which is again introduced by sounds. Doppler effect...a train sounding its horn as it hammers past, which became the finale to the live shows. Pastorius nails a mid-tempo funk groove like no-one else on this track, which is followed by bassist Alphonso Johnson's swansong with Weather Report, 'Herandnu'...this tune, believe it or not, was named after a boutique Johnson happened upon during a Scandinavian tour. Interesting time changes and another illustration of how Wayne Shorter plays for about 30 seconds at any one time, and always becomes the most important part of the music. Fantastic, although no doubt 21st century listeners will find the synth sounds dated. We are left hanging with a wry quote from 'Fly Me To The Moon', as if to drive the point home. They always sought to evoke impressions of travelling, movement and different places.

As to the sound of the recording, Weather Report recordings at this time were engineered to a very high standard indeed by the legendary Ron Malo, so the question is, which version do you get hold of?

There is the reference 18-bit Legacy SBM version I am reviewing here, very nice and probably what you will get if you click on 'buy', there is an SACD version on the Japanese SME label (if your SACD player still works) and now if you look, there is the all-singing, all-dancing, final-word and no returns with bells on DSD (Direct Stream Digital) version which will play on your regular CD player. How many times do you want to buy it, and will you know the difference? I have the vinyl, CD, SACD, and I'm considering the DSD. It's that good.
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on 16 September 2008
This is my fave Weather report album; and a great introduction to the band if you don't know them. "Black Market" finds the band at their most colourful, with the late Joe Zawinul's distinctive synth sound unashamedly splashed across their sonic canvas and two bass legends (Pastorius and Alphonso Johnson) sharing low end duties. The Portishead-sampled "elegant people" leans towards their cheesier side but the closing cut "Herandnu" pulls everything back in line. More accessible than "Mysterious Traveller" (their other great album in my opinion) but without the big slices of cheese present on their biggest hit "Heavy Weather." New to weather report? Start here...
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 December 2012
This a joyously funky, atmospheric and rumbustious brew of jazz and world music influences that manages that rare feat of being musically adventurous and yet accessible at the same time. Hailing from 1976 'Black Market' sounds as fresh today as it did all those years ago- the production, the quality of the material and the playing, puts it at, or near the forefront of,Weather Report releases. It sees Weather Report getting ever more sophisticated and dare I say 'rocky', yet avoiding the sort of compromises that in the future would lead to some fusion fans feeling that the band had gone perhaps too 'pop'.

These days its difficult for younger listeners to realise how significant Weather Report were in their era. Featuring two core sidemen of Miles Davis in Zawinul and Shorter using state of the art keyboards,exotic percussion and all the technology of the studio,the band were able to create album after album of interesting colourful music that featured textured arrangements and virtuoso playing that left other bands in the dust.'Black Market' for me represents the early promise of Weather Report being fulfilled, both in the complexity of the music and its beautifully melodic content.

My particular favourites include the heartfelt 'Cannonball' and the irrepressible 'Elegant People' with its cop -show funk and swanky sax lines from Wayne Shorter, but really from there is nothing resembling filler here.It's great from start to finish. Recommended.
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on 14 May 2006
When I was first played this album, by a friend at school way back in the Seventies, I shut myself in his room and replayed it at least half a dozen times! I think my friends thought me a bit mad, but I had never heard such a completely integrated sound, delivered in such a professional way before. It was this record that prompted me to explore the avenues of Jazz/Rock, leading me to others of the genre such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Herbie Hancock, Stanley Clarke and Billy Cobham to name but a few.

Chester Thompson and Narada Michael Walden, together with two percussionists, provide a solid foundation augmented by Alphonso Johnson and the inimitable Jaco Pastorius on bass. Wayne Shorter's mournful saxophone provides the lead and the whole thing is brought together by the masterful Joe Zawinul on keyboards and effects. Individually, the musicianship is undeniably brilliant, but the combined effect is nothing short of astonishing. While the earlier Tale Spinnin' had a more ebullient Caribbean flavour, Black Market has more of a Mediterranean feel to it - heavier and more powerful, with eastern overtones. Unequivocally recommended!
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on 30 March 2016
The first thing I have to say about Black Market is it is of its time.It's interesting how fusion has fallen out of favor.However,Joe Zawinul's compositions are very string and there is a move toward "world music" in his work that he later followed through to its natural conclusion.When I last saw him at Ronnie Scott's in London,his wonderful band had a singer from the Congo. The name of his publishing company is Mulatto Music so that will give you an idea of this preferences.
I find the Wayne Shorter compositions weaker which I think is surprising considering that he wrote so much for Miles Davis.
The Album also features Jaco Pastorius on a couple of track including his own composition Barbary Coast,a short but uplifting piece
So over all, highly recommended though you should check out Zawinul's great "live" album Brown Street which is both exciting and musically wonderful
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on 18 July 2011
Black Market is what I consider to be one of the best Weather Report albums. It never diminishes with the years, it's always exciting, and current.
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on 15 July 2014
I am a life long fan!
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on 1 April 2014
I would recommend this to others, listened to the music years ago was very refreshing to hear it again today
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