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🌵 Desert Sessions 🌵 2.0: Cheap Used Records – Weather Report – Black Market

May 13, 2023
Weather Report – Black Market (1976)

This is one of my favorite Weather Report albums. It has both a jazz rock fusion and world music vibes. This is the first Weather Report appearance bass player Jaco Pastorius, however, he is only on two of the seven tracks. His presence is not nearly as profound as it would be on the following Weather Report release Heavy Weather.

The first and titular track, “Black Market” is a festive tune that easily evokes a bustling exotic street market somewhere close to the equator. Like most Weather Report albums, Joe Zawinul’s keyboards, arrangements, and compositions dominate.

“Cannon Ball” is a song in memory of Zawinul’s mentor Cannonball Adderley. You get your first taste of Jaco Pastorius in Weather Report.

“Gibraltar” is classic Weather Report – it is both funky and adventurous. It includes an epic Wayne Shorter solo on soprano sax.

After three Zawinul compositions and flipping the LP, we get two Wayne Shorter compositions: “Elegant People” and “Three Clowns.” You get a strong sense of the compositional difference between the two leaders, Shorter is the more conventional (yet adventurous) jazz man. His compositions are more cerebral.

Pastorius is not only a brilliant bass player, but a great composer. His “Barbary Coast” sets us on notice that there is a new sheriff in town. Pastorius plays bass like a horn player and composes like he is in a big band.

The album ends with “Herandnu,” Alphonso Johnson’s farewell. It is a grand goodbye that allows the whole band to show off their chops.

This is another dollar record, with a touch of surface noise, but nothing to annoying or distracting.

Musicians:

  • Joe Zawinul — Yamaha Grand Piano, Rhodes Electric Piano, 2 × ARP 2600, Oberheim Polyphonic Synthesizer, orchestration
  • Wayne Shorter — Selmer soprano and tenor saxophones, Computone Lyricon
  • Alphonso Johnson — electric bass
  • Jaco Pastorius — electric fretless bass (tracks 2 & 6)
  • Narada Michael Walden — drums (tracks 1 and 2)
  • Chester Thompson — drums (track 1, tracks 3–7)
  • Alex Acuña — congas, percussion (tracks 2–5, track 7)
  • Don Alias — percussion (tracks 1 and 6)
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