‘Black Market‘ is the title of the sixth studio album released by the legendary American jazz fusion/jazz rock band Weather Report in March 1976 through Columbia Records. This instrumental jazz fusion album represented a major novelty at that time in Weather Report’s catalogue thanks to the addition of legendary bassist Jaco Pastorius, who is featured on two tracks on the record.
One of the two tracks on which Jaco appeared, more specifically ‘Barbary Coast’, is actually his own composition. Although Jaco Pastorius was to be the band’s main bassist from that point forth until his departure from the group in 1982, it was Alphonso Johnson who contributed electric bass on all other tracks on the album.
Aside from Jaco Pastorius who made his recording debut for the band, Chester Thompson (drums), Alex Acuña (percussion, including congas), and Narada Michael Walden (drums) also made their debuts. It is therefore important to note the fact that the drumming and percussion-based part of the rhythm section was very eclectic for the recording sessions of this album.
‘Black Market’ was produced by co-frontmen and co-founders Joe Zawinul (keyboards) and Wayne Shorter (saxophone). Originally recorded in December 1975 and January 1976, the LP was released by Columbia Records several months later in 1976 and digitally remastered as a CD in 1991. It has a total length of 36 minutes and 55 seconds.
‘Black Market’ is a studio album by Weather Report which showcases a tremendous degree of influences stemming from African folk music which makes the overall sound of it at the crossroads of jazz fusion/jazz rock and world fusion.
The tracklist for the album is as follows:
- Black Market (composed by Joe Zawinul);
- Cannon Ball (composed by Joe Zawinul as a tribute to Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, his former employer during the 1960s – Adderley died several months before the album was released);
- Gibraltar (composed by Joe Zawinul);
- Elegant People (composed by Wayne Shorter);
- Three Clowns (composed by Wayne Shorter);
- Barbary Coast (composed by Jaco Pastorius);
- Herandnu (composed by Alphonso Johnson).
As you can clearly notice from above, Zawinul composed 3 out of 7 tracks, Shorter 2 out of 7, and bassists Jaco Pastorius along with Alphonso Johnson 1 track each.
The recording personnel was as follows:
- Josef ‘Joe’ Erich Zawinul – Yamaha grand piano, Rhodes electric piano, 2 ARP 2600 synthesizer, Oberheim polyphonic synthesizer, overall orchestration;
- Wayne Shorter – saxophones (more specifically selmer soprano and tenor saxophones) as well as computone Lyricon, electronic wind instrument;
- Alphonso Johnson – electric bass;
- Jaco Pastorius – electric fretless bass (solely on tracks 2 and 6);
- Narada Michael Walden – drums (solely on tracks 1 and 2);
- Chester Thompson – drums (track 1 and tracks 3 to 7);
- Alex Acuña (credited on the album as Alejandro Acuña; tracks 2 to 5 as well as track 7);
- Don Alias – percussion (tracks 1 and 6).
The technical personnel was as follows:
- Joe Zawinul – producer;
- Wayne Shorter – co-producer;
- Ron Malo – engineer;
- Nancy Donald – cover design;
- David McMacken – cover illustration;
- Ed Caraeff – photography.
Critically, ‘Black Market’ was very well received by such specialized and prestigious music publications such as AllMusic (which gave it 4.5 stars out of 5), Sputnikmusic (which gave it 4.5 stars out of 5), The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide (which gave it 4 out of 5 stars), or The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (which gave it 3.5 stars out of 5).
On a personal note, I feel I must say that this studio album, along with two others from Weather Report’s catalogue, more specifically ‘Mysterious Traveller‘ (1974) and ‘Heavy Weather‘ (1977), were the perfect musical cures for me during a period of recovery and convalescence while I returned to Aalborg, Denmark as a BSc student in Medialogy (short for ‘Media Technology’) at Aalborg Universitet (AAU) in Aalborg, Denmark.
Below you can listen to all of the tracks from the album courtesy of Weather Report’s official Youtube channel. My favourite songs from the record are by far ‘Black Market’ (the namesake opener), Cannon Ball (Zawinul’s tribute to Cannonball Adderley), Gibraltar (which I used to listen on repeat on my black Marshall III headphones on my way to university during heavy weather in Denmark), and Barbary Coast (Jaco’s gem on the album). I’d really love to know what are your most favourite songs from this fantastic Weather Report record. Kindly mention them in the comments’ section down below. Thank you very much for your attention, readership, and time on The Rockpedia! I am very grateful for them! Cheers and all the best!
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