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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Weather Report

Black Market

Review by Gary Hill

This was a transition album for Weather Report as they were moving more into electronic territory. For my money, the keyboards tend to overwhelm some of the arrangements here. Still, when it’s this good, you really can’t argue too much. You’ll note that I’ve included this under the progressive rock stuff at Music Street Journal. Generally we put fusion there because, for one thing to me the main different between jazzy prog and fusion is which has more rock. Secondly, given our choices of genre (prog, metal and non-prog) it seems that the most likely audience will be found with the progressive rock fans.

There are two musicians featured throughout the album: Joe Zawinul (keyboards and more) and Wayne Shorter (saxophones and more). Other musicians are included on various songs throughout. Those musicians include Chester Thompson (drums), Jaco Pastorius (bass) and Narada Michael Walden (drums).

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 3 at

Track by Track Review
Black Market

As this opens it seems to combine world music with space in an atmospheric bit of sound. That grows up until a rather funky kind of world music meets jazz groove emerges. The rhythm section on this is pretty involved and intriguing, but the keyboards really drive the melodies in the early parts of the piece. There are some great shifts and changes and some awesome instrumental interplay as this really kicks into high gear. We get some inspired horn work and some great bass playing, too. They drop it back later to a rhythm section meets bits of keyboards section. That gets some horns added after a while. It never really climbs back up, though, as sound effects come over to end it.

Cannon Ball
Keyboards start this and the bass rises up in a mellow jazz style. Eventually a more full arrangement emerges with some great fusion ensuing. But that only stays for a short time. They drop it way down again as they continue. A more full treatment enters after a time, but it’s not as developed as that earlier short section. They keep shifting and changing this thing as it works forward, though. The keyboards really shine on the arrangement for a while, but then the horn gets some of the spotlight. They drop it back later and the bass line leads it for a time. Then it fades down even more and keyboards take it to its close.
Sound effects, mostly centered on nautical sounds, open this. Then an exotic musical element rises up, rather like soundtrack music. After this short introduction, the piece powers out into some great funky fusion. The rubbery bass line is great, but so are the melodic elements that come over the top of it. Parts of this get a little odd, but they are also quite tasty at the same time. It has some killer musical moments along the way.
Elegant People
While the melodies and shifts and changes within (this one really gets into some purely progressive rock oriented stuff) really steal the show in a lot of ways, I’m also grabbed by the rhythm section. Both the drums and the bass manage to shine pretty brightly on this one. There are some dramatic musical moments here, too. If I were in a pinch to pick my favorite piece here, this might be it. This definitely has some of the most impressive sections, that’s for sure.
Three Clowns
Electronic opens this is a dramatic, yet atmospheric way. The cut builds up from there and some unusual sounds emerge. It seems like electronic music combined with classic jazz stylings in a lot of ways. Later, it drops to weird stripped back music, but grows out from there. This is the most unusual number here. It’s a little odd, even. Still, it’s pretty short.
Barbary Coast
Train sounds start things here. Percussion comes in next. Then it’s a funky bass and we’re on our way. This is a killer fusion jam that’s fun. That bass really manages to steal much of the show on this one. Given the competition, that says a lot. Dropping back to the train to end, this is another short one.


Combining jazz, hard rock, space music and more, this is a real powerhouse. It’s probably no accident they saved this for last because it’s one of the most powerful numbers on show here. It is also one of the more traditional sounding fusion numbers. It’s one of the best compositions of the set.




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