Weather Report: Black Market (live, 1979)
Composed by Josef Zawinul.
Recorded: live (Europe, USA and Japan), 1979
Rating: 93/100 (learn more)
It was no accident that Weather Report continued to thrive in the shrinking fusion world while other jazz-rock supergroups disbanded or lost popularity. Weather Report always maintained more of a jazz identity than most guitar-heavy fusion groups, who were highly dependent upon the continued support of young rock fans. To a certain degree this "more jazz/less rock" formula acted as the band's safety net. Though over the years they would continue to experiment and add new sonic touches and world music influences, Weather Report continued to be a jazz band. They could always count on a large group of followers who saw them in that light. Those fans would not abandon them as long as the group continued to explore.
A welcoming and anxious crowd greets the tune's opening jungle sound effects with a smattering of applause. A down beat from drummer Erskine and a Jaco Pastorius riff makes the crowd erupt. Despite its title, "Black Market" is a joyous romp. Pastorius and Zawinul play counterpoint until they join in a unison theme. Zawinul plays a simple happy melody. Shorter doubles up with Zawinul as the tune abruptly catches a groove that takes it and the crowd away. Pastorius's playing is fantastic throughout. Shorter takes a straight-ahead solo as cow bells and assorted percussion echo around him. Zawinul picks up where Shorter left off before letting his machines set off some fireworks. I mean the noises he makes sound like actual fireworks! The dominant riff returns taking the piece to where the musicians and the crowd want it to end up.
Weather Report was always best when they didn't take themselves too seriously. That is what happens on "Black Market."
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky