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Black Market


Dan South

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I've been listening to Weather Report's "Black Market" CD over the holidays. I haven't listened to this disc much in recent years, even though I've long considered it to be Weather Report's finest recording. I bought the vinyl album when I was seventeen, and I didn't warm up to it right away, but after several listenings, I really got into it. - I wonder whether kids do that today, i.e. listen to challenging material over and over until they "get it."

 

Anyway, as I was listening to Black Market (which was my first exposure to Jaco Pastorius, by the way), I realized that THIS album above all others shaped the way the I use synthesizers. Now, I've never composed anything that remotely resembles the Weather Report sound, but I realize now that Josef Zawinul's amazing synth timbres connected with me in a way that most of the "bloops and bleeps" of the seventies did not. Zawinul always claimed that he tried to make synthesizers sound "organic" as though the tones are from an exotic acoustic instrument that you've never heard before. On lead synth sounds in particular, I would say that he succeeded. NO ONE before or since has produced timbres like Zawinul's lead lines (mostly played on his two Arp 2600's).

 

Zawinul's use of the Oberheim Polyphonic and phase shifted Rhodes was also groundbreaking, and Wayne Shorter's use of an electronic wind instrument on "Three Clowns" is remarkably expressive.

 

Is there a point to this long-winded post? No. There are TWO points to this long-winded post. ;) Firstly, if you're a synth fan and you haven't heard Black Market, buy it. Don't even think about it. It will turn you on to new ways of thinking about synths that you NEVER hear today despite the availability of advanced modern technology.

 

Secondly, think about your OWN listening experiences. Trace your roots. What recording or recordings helped to define how YOU approach synths or other keyboards?

 

If you'll excuse me, I've gotta go listen to "Cannonball" one more time...

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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Lucky Man (ELP) and Magic Man (Heart, yes, you heard me, Heart) made me want a synthesizer. Steve Miller and Gary Wright (spelling) made synths fun. Oh, and the crazy arp in Frankenstein by Edger Winter. That song was very big for me. Then I found myself covering saxophone leads, harmonica leads, trumpet parts, even guitar solos on synthesizer. At the time I did not realize how much this was influencing my playing. I was always trying to figure ways to growl, slide and feedback like other instruments. I played lead guitar in bar bands for a short time before returning to keyboards. I also play some saxophone. These instruments were so much more emotional than keyboards that it hurt. Then I heard Brian Eno and realized that a synthesizer did not have to sound like any other instrument to be expressive. Just dive in, see what it will do, and push the edges. One thing I always tried to keep in mind, use the technology without letting the technology use me.

 

Robert

This post edited for speling.
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"Black Market" is a great album. You should (if you haven't already) check out "Tail Spinnin'". It include the Tonto modular synth from Malcom Cecil and Robert Margoleff. Some really cool stuff.

 

"The First Seven Days" by Jan Hammer was an album that really hit me in terms of new sonic textures (synth and acoustic combined).

 

Pretty much anything David Sancious has done has influenced me to some extent. Same holds true for Kit Watkins, Dave Stewart, George Duke, Brian Eno, and Tony Banks.

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Dan, the timing of your post is remarkable, for me at least. This afternoon I was goofying around with FM7. I saw CoolColJ's post about not liking it so I thought I'd play with it to see if my positive impressions about the synth were valid. After a bit this groove started happening, not unlike a Black Market era WR jam. So partly for fun and partly to show off what the FM7 can do, I put together this jam. With the exception of the congas, everything came from the presets on the FM7, absolutely no effects added. In fact the panning is as it would be right off the synth. IMHO, this synth is warm as apple pie right out of the oven.

 

Like you, while I've been heavily influenced by Zawinul I've never done in a WR style. This was fun. I've titled it "Why aint Joe on the cover of Keyboard no more?" (kind of a protest song, like in the '60s)

 

http://www.purgatorycreek.com/mp3/jz.mp3

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Very impressive, Busch!! All that in one day?? Joe would be proud! My only suggestion would be to add some nice fusion style drums to fill it out.

 

The FM7 sounds great!!! Did you run it on Mac or PC? What sound card?

 

Incidentally, I think Joe's picture should be on the cover of EVERY issue of Keyboard. At least a little picture to reminded us all who's boss. Add a picture of grinning Art Tatum right beside the title. That would be totally cool!

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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Originally posted by Dan South:

Incidentally, I think Joe's picture should be on the cover of EVERY issue of Keyboard. At least a little picture to reminded us all who's boss.

 

Plus, he's a very nice man. I was lucky enough to get to spend some time with him one evening in a bar in Austria when I was working for Miles. Definitely a fond memory... :D

 

dB

:snax:

 

:keys:==> David Bryce Music • Funky Young Monks <==:rawk:

 

 

Affiliations: Cloud Microphones • Music Player Network 

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Originally posted by Dan South:

NO ONE before or since has produced timbres like Zawinul's lead lines (mostly played on his two Arp 2600's).

 

...and if I remember correctly, he played one of those ARP 2600 keyboards with the control voltage reversed, so the pitch ascends when moving right to left. Only the C's and F#'s are the same. Why do this? Because Joe can.

 

WR on the "8:30" tour was one of the best concerts I'd ever seen (even in a dung-heap of a venue in Poughkeepsie).

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Originally posted by mzeger:

 

...and if I remember correctly, he played one of those ARP 2600 keyboards with the control voltage reversed, so the pitch ascends when moving right to left. Only the C's and F#'s are the same. Why do this? Because Joe can.

 

WR on the "8:30" tour was one of the best concerts I'd ever seen (even in a dung-heap of a venue in Poughkeepsie).

 

Yeah, his Arp keyboards were mirror images of each other, so he could essentially use the same hand movements on both hands, i.e. playing from thumb to pinky will ascend in pitch on either hand. Mind boggling! I'm sure that you can do this on a K2x00 by putting in a negative value for the pitch factor. Anyone ever try it? I'll bet you could play some AMAZING stuff that way!

 

Yeah, I saw WR in Pittsburgh at about the same time. Peter Erskine was the drummer. Jaco did his little "Third Stone From The Sun" solo thing, and the crowd went wild. Good memories.

 

Dave: It's really nice to hear that Zawinul is a nice guy. He comes across as a very passionate person and has admitted to being arrogant in his youth. (Who can blame him?) I'm glad to hear that he was so personable.

 

Zawinul is favorite twentieth century composer. Moreso than Bartok, Zappa, or any of the film guys. He's the man! Thanks for the inspiration, Joe! Mercy! Mercy! Mercy!

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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Originally posted by burningbusch:

After a bit this groove started happening, not unlike a Black Market era WR jam. So partly for fun and partly to show off what the FM7 can do, I put together this jam.

 

Bill, you are such a good player. I love the piece. Betcha NI would, too. And JZ, for that matter.

 

Bart Garratt

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Hey Mzeger, I think I was at that show. At least I only remember them playing the Civic Center once. Would that have been late 70s? Early 80s? When I saw them in Poughkeepsie, I believe Peter Erskine was drumming. Jaco did an astonishing unaccompanied solo, but some bozo about 40 rows back was doing weird jungle calls throughout it. When his solo was complete, Jaco flung his bass into the wings. An unprepared stage hand lunged for it but missed. Same show?

 

Originally posted by mzeger:

 

...and if I remember correctly, he played one of those ARP 2600 keyboards with the control voltage reversed, so the pitch ascends when moving right to left. Only the C's and F#'s are the same. Why do this? Because Joe can.

 

WR on the "8:30" tour was one of the best concerts I'd ever seen (even in a dung-heap of a venue in Poughkeepsie).

Check out the Sweet Clementines CD at bandcamp
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Did you ever hear "Birdland" on Quincy Jones' "Back on the block"-album?

Joe Zavinul is playing an awesome part there too (along with Miles Davis, Dizzy Gilespie and a whole lot of other top cats).

 

The whole album is a trip!

 

/Mats

http://www.lexam.net/peter/carnut/man.gif

What do we want? Procrastination!

When do we want it? Later!

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Originally posted by Magpel:

Hey Mzeger, I think I was at that show. At least I only remember them playing the Civic Center once. Would that have been late 70s? Early 80s? When I saw them in Poughkeepsie, I believe Peter Erskine was drumming. Jaco did an astonishing unaccompanied solo, but some bozo about 40 rows back was doing weird jungle calls throughout it. When his solo was complete, Jaco flung his bass into the wings. An unprepared stage hand lunged for it but missed. Same show?

 

Yeah, that's the concert, probably late '79 or early '80. Jaco's solo segment was essentially him laying down a loop with an Echoplex, and blowing over it (including the usual Hendrix quotes). I got autographs from Zawinul, Shorter, and Jaco on a Ticketron envelope after that show as they were getting on the bus (missed Erskine). Still have that envelope.

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Originally posted by Dan South:

Zawinul always claimed that he tried to make synthesizers sound "organic" as though the tones are from an exotic acoustic instrument that you've never heard before. On lead synth sounds in particular, I would say that he succeeded.

 

His solo on "Young and Fine" (Mr. Gone) exemplifies this. With exquisitely subtle pitchbending, he plays some notes slightly out of tune to mimic a reed instrument. Also, you know the effect where a sax player goes back and forth between alternate fingerings of the same note, only they're slightly different in pitch (and timbre)? Zawinul mimics this gesture, with the pitchwheel, I guess. It's amazing. And can someone tell me if he played this solo on the Prophet or 2600?

 

Bart Garratt

 

Thanks, Dan, I'll have to listen to Black Market.

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Dan, it was just done directly connected into Protools (so as far as I know the sound card doesn't come into play). I usually work so slowly it's embarrassing. I've got to figure out why this came together so quickly (but then again it is just F). I think limiting myself to presets on the FM7 helped alot. I just pick stuff that seemed to go with the mood of the piece.

 

BG, thanks for the kind words.

 

My first expose to WR was picking up the first album shortly after its release. I was transitioning from progressive rock to jazz and it turned out to be a critical album for me. I've seen WR at least five, maybe six times. The first was at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis (1971 or so). Small, excellent venue, half circle seating surrounding a wide open stage. Eric Gravatt was on drums, Vitous on bass. Joe had the Rhodes, the ARP 2600 and I believe he used an acoustic grand. The ARP wasn't functioning probably, but at that time he was using it sparingly anyway. Afterwards you could go up on stage and talk to everyone. The group with Gravatt, Vitous, Shorter, Zaw and percussionist du joir was my second favorite next to the legendary Jaco, Erskine... There is some about compositions like Unknown Solider that make me feel it could be a whole genre of music if it was ever explored more fully, i.e. 95% acoustic music, aggressive open jazz, strong melodic ideas, occasional organic synth figures. I was they had done at least a couple more albums in this style.

 

Also saw them at Philharmonic hall as part of the '73 Newport Jazz Festival in NYC (I believe this remains the largest jazz festival ever). Return to Forever opened for WR. This was the Sweetnighter era. The audience was too sure. There were plenty of cat calls for Gravatt. Good concert.

 

Also saw the Jaco/Erskine group a couple of times. Once, John McLaughlin opened for them. This was post Mahavishnu Orchestra when McLaughlin was heavily into Indian music. He did the entire set with the same key drone fifth setting the tonal center. After hearing that for over an hour, WR sounded unbelievably great.

 

Zawinul is my single most important influence without question. I studied him from the begining with Dinah Washington, then Cannonball, Miles, WR and the solo alums both pre and post WR. An old girlfirend artist of mine even did a very nice pencil reproduction of the old ARP ad. I love the guy.

 

Busch

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  • 4 years later...
Originally posted by burningbusch:

Dan, the timing of your post is remarkable, for me at least. This afternoon I was goofying around with FM7. I saw CoolColJ's post about not liking it so I thought I'd play with it to see if my positive impressions about the synth were valid. After a bit this groove started happening, not unlike a Black Market era WR jam. So partly for fun and partly to show off what the FM7 can do, I put together this jam. With the exception of the congas, everything came from the presets on the FM7, absolutely no effects added. In fact the panning is as it would be right off the synth. IMHO, this synth is warm as apple pie right out of the oven.

 

Like you, while I've been heavily influenced by Zawinul I've never done in a WR style. This was fun. I've titled it "Why aint Joe on the cover of Keyboard no more?" (kind of a protest song, like in the '60s)

 

http://www.purgatorycreek.com/mp3/jz.mp3

+1 to WR, FM7, and those that can really play.
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Originally posted by Dan South:

I bought the vinyl album when I was seventeen, and I didn't warm up to it right away, but after several listenings, I really got into it. - I wonder whether kids do that today, i.e. listen to challenging material over and over until they "get it."

 

What a great quote. :freak:
"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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I, too, have been fortunate to chat with Joe three or four times, and he gave me a couple of his famous insights (someone should collect Zawinul's quotes some day). One of his advices, in particular, has influenced many of my life/music choices. I was asking for the best move to survive in a music career, and he simply said: "You only have one life", then stared at me for a few seconds. Thanks Joe, we tend to forget that. :)

That simple sentence forced me to find what was really important to me, and to choose what I wanted to do with my time, instead of just being tossed about by events.

 

I make a point of going thru the entire Weather Report discography about once an year. Needless to say, I discover new aspect of their music every time. More often than not, I follow the WR album list with the Zawinul solo album list (Syndacate or whatever), and finding the differences in the composition/improvisation approach is always a treat.

 

Zawinul was an incredible influence on me, for his sheer musical genius, his virtuoso-level playing and programming, and his artistic and human integrity. I've dedicated a song to him: It's called "Papa Z" and it's on the second Syntaxis' album, called "Cieli Diversi".

 

The only time I wrote a letter to Keyboard magazine, was to complain because they didn't include Joe in the "12 Who Count" series. I found that such a pioneer and forerunner deserved one of those articles. The letter, at least, was published. :D

 

And since I'm teaching a lot these days - I made the proposal to dedicate a group laboratory for advanced student exclusively to Weather Report music. I'm waiting for the response from the bosses... :rolleyes:

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I'm a guitarist, and when I was a metalhead getting into Jazz, Black Market was the first WR album I got back in '85-86 when I was in highschool.

 

I couldn't quit listening to it, and all of my "metal buddies" where like "where's the guitar"? LOL

 

The thing that's a trip is that the synth sounds do not bother me as "too dated". They are still palatable to this day

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Somebody had to do it. Open up a Weather Report thread :) WR has always been my favorite band. They along with Steely Dan and Rush sustained my music education jones throughout the 80s.

 

Miles' BB & Evil Ways was cool. I have Headhunters, RTF and Mahavisnu Orchestra albums. Herbie, Chick, Jan--great. However, Black Market single-handedly opened a can of music worms for me. Night Passage came along and blew me away--again. Talk about amazing basslines, check the title track on each album! Jaco's bass playing was a direct influence on my left hand bass.

 

Needless to say, I have every album WR released between 1971-1985. The 8:30 live album is a tour de force in what a virtuoso 5 man band can accomplish.

 

Remember seeing a local news special report where they interviewed Joe Zawinul around 83/84 or so. He had a roomful of synths. Those days were the beginning of GAS for keyboard players.

 

Granted, I didn't really get into Zawinul Syndicate and his other projects. But, I wholeheartedly agree that every keyboard player regardless of genre should check out WR. Just to get a fresh perspective on synths in general and amazing keyboard playing overall.

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Originally posted by mzeger:

Originally posted by Dan South:

NO ONE before or since has produced timbres like Zawinul's lead lines (mostly played on his two Arp 2600's).

...and if I remember correctly, he played one of those ARP 2600 keyboards with the control voltage reversed, so the pitch ascends when moving right to left. Only the C's and F#'s are the same. Why do this? Because Joe can.

YouTube offers a WR Black Market live video where this can be seen.

 

Tale Spinning is great as well. I like it even more than Black Market, I guess. Mysterious Traveller, TS, BM, Heavy Weather, Mr Gone and 8:30 are a nice bunch of albums in a row! Night Passage, though praised a lot, didn't do much to me. Weather Report ('82) and Procession somehow impressed me more.

 

Great work in the synth area, that's for sure.

 

Hymn Of The 7th Galaxy, Where Have I Known You Before and Romantic Warrior - to name a few great 70s synth-infected albums - did shape my impression of synths as well.

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A very concise list of nice WR tunes to the uninitiated interested in checking them out:

 

125th Street Congress--Sweetnighter

Cucumber Slumber-Mysterious Traveller

Lusitanos--Tale Spinnin

Barbary Coast/Herandnu--Black Market

A Remark You Made--Heavy Weather

Young & Fine--Mr. Gone

Birdland--8:30 Live

Night Passage--Night Passage

Speechless--Weather Report

Corner Pocket--Sportin Life

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Originally posted by RABid:

So what else to you like from Weather Report?

To me, Mysterious Traveler and Tale Spinnin' are simply magic. When I listen to these albums, it's very hard for my ears to keep listening 'critically'; after a while, the imagination just starts 'spinning', and you forget which synth, which reverb, which arrangement... :)

 

It took me several years to warm up to Night Passage, but now I consider it the best WR album of the Pastorius era.

A few insider informations:

- It was recorded live, even though they don't say that on the cover. WR played for two or three days in a theatre, two concerts each day, for a selected audience, then they picked up the best takes and mixed them in the studio. The only tune for which they couldn't find a good enough take was the title track, so they played it again in the studio (recording all together), and even that required the splitting and pasting of several takes. If you listen carefully, there are evident enough cuts, and the piece speeds up a bit at a couple of points.

 

- It was recorded at the end of a long tour. According to Peter Erskine, WR recorded other concerts from that tour; Peter said there's one recording of most the "Night Passage" material from one of the last concerts, which is quite superior to the performances that ended up on the record. He also said that the sound quality of that recording is quite good... Now, what the hell are they waiting for to publish that one?!? :freak::mad:

 

Almost forgot... I'm gonna see Joe in concert in Rome on July 11th, with the tribute big band. I can't wait!

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Joe is at the top of my pantheon of musical masters. I saw WR with the original lineup, twice in the Jaco years, and last in the early 80's with Omar Hakim and Victor Bailey. Just amazing.

Moe

---

"I keep wanting to like it's sound, but every demo seems to demonstrate that it has the earth-shaking punch and peerless sonics of the Roland Gaia. " - Tusker

http://www.hotrodmotm.com

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Originally posted by ProfD:

A very concise list of nice WR tunes to the uninitiated interested in checking them out:

 

125th Street Congress--Sweetnighter

Cucumber Slumber-Mysterious Traveller

Lusitanos--Tale Spinnin

Barbary Coast/Herandnu--Black Market

A Remark You Made--Heavy Weather

Young & Fine--Mr. Gone

Birdland--8:30 Live

Night Passage--Night Passage

Speechless--Weather Report

Corner Pocket--Sportin Life

Nice list. I'd like to add (and certainly not intend those as replacements):

 

Nubian Sundance - Mysterious Traveller

Mysterious Traveller - Mysterious Traveller

Man In The Green Shirt - Tale Spinnin'

Between The Thighs - Tale Spinnin'

Elegant People - Black Market

Palladium - Heavy Weather

Havona - Heavy Weather

Scarlet Woman - 8:30 (originally from MT)

Volcano For Hire - Weather Report '82

Where The Moon Goes - Live & Unreleased (better version) / Procession

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Nubian Sundance is so atmospheric and manages to do things to me to alter my perception of time. It features two drummers creating a complex web of time, if I remember correctly. The washes of sound definitely seem to take you on a journey.

 

Black Market is probably my favourite. I never cred for the live versions with Jaco. I love the second half of the tune too much. Alphonso Johnson's playinmg on this tune is my primary influence. The change of rhythm when Ndugu Chancler's drum part is spliced to follow Chester Thompson's in the mid section taked the tune to another level. Also the rhythm chages from straightish to swung sixteeneths.

Zawinul, Shorter and Johnson understood the power of simplicity and made excellent use of pentatonics. Much as I love some of the later stuff with Jaco, sometimes some of the sense of drama, mystery and sinplicity was foregone.

 

Live and unreleased is essential.

 

I also love the early line up with Gravatt, Vitous and co. The live double CD (Live in Tokyo) they recorded is a fantastic work. It's full of danger and improvisation close to the edge. It doesn't feature synths but the electric piano work is outstanding.

 

Then there's Cannonball. Like 'A Remark You made', JZ has a telent for putting beautiful melodies in the bass. AS a bassist Joe is a big influence on me. Cannonball is a beutiful and heartfelt tribute to his former boss and almost completely avoids the obvious.

Apparently it was the first tune Jaco recorded with WR. He reportedly played totally tastelesly and inappropriately at first, throwing in every trick he knew. Joe bawled him out and the recorded version is the result of that. Jaco's playing is beautiful with an appropriate balance of meaning and elaboration. It something special when Wayne's saxophone enters towards the end of the track.

 

Black Market is the complete album for me, and probably my all-time favourie record.

 

I just wish I could say I've whole-heatedly enjoyed any of Joe's stuff since Weather Report. Well, he does as he will and there's no reason why he should play just to please me! ;)

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Wow! Finally a WR topic!!

 

Like many of you here, Zawinul figures quite prominently in my musical taste and influences. I have written many patches on my JX-10 and Korg hybrids to emulate sounds I hear on these old albums. I love Joe's sense of texture and tastefulness. Those old synth tones still stand up to today and do not sound dated at all!

 

Funny thing, just recently I've been on a "reclaim my old Weather Report collection" mission. I've been snapping up old CDs and vinyl to get back these albums I used to have in the 70s/80s but sold off a long time ago.

 

Back in Feburary I got Night Passage which is one of the ones I've never heard before. (However I did see the tour to this album back in 1980, or pre-tour to this album). It didn't strike me that much upon first few listens, but then I got hooked. Jaco's "Three Views Of A Secret" is just.... beautiful. And "Madagascar" is cool as hell... very understated but an excellent piece.

 

Then I just picked up a few days ago on vinyl... Black Market, Mr. Gone, and Mysterious Traveler. Three more WR albums I never owned back then. Just amazing. I don't see Black Market as their best, I still think Heavy Weather holds the crown because of its sheer power and consistency (the most accessible WR album, but IMO still the best). I'd put Tale Spinnin' and 8:30 as the next best WR albums.

 

My goal now is to compile a personal WR "best of" tape/CD of my own song choices. Some of the WR albums, esp. the very early ones, have a lot of esoteric Zawinul 'impressionistic' pieces which I'm not too crazy about, and I sometimes find myself skipping over them.

Kurzweil PC3, Yamaha MOX8, Alesis Ion, Kawai K3M
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