Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Joe Zawinul (1932-2007)

Josef Erich Zawinul – an architect of jazz fusion and a master of electronic keyboards – died today in Vienna, Austria, the city of his birth.

Through the 1960s, Joe Zawinul played piano in Cannonball Adderley’s band. Then he recorded with Miles Davis on the groundbreaking LPs “In a Silent Way” and “Bitches Brew.” (Zawinul wrote the tune “In a Silent Way.”)

Zawinul in the ’70s co-founded the jazz-rock supergroup Weather Report, a band that defined the fusion era.

Click here to hear Zawinul’s composition “Man in the Green Shirt,” recorded live in London on November 27, 1975.

This track is from the Weather Report double-CD “Live & Unreleased.” It’s downloadable from iTunes, along with the entire Weather Report catalogue.


DeAngelo Starnes said...

Aw shit. This one really hurts. I was a HUGE Weather Report fan from junior high through college. Still am, but not as fanatical.

I've seen Weather Report many times. They would throw a three hour show full of non-stop energy without repeating ideas. Zawinul would just lose his mind behind that bank of keyboards and effects pedals. No headliners - just straight to the stage and kick ass! Wow, this really fucks me up.

Met Zawinul at Blues Alley in '94. He was with his Zawinul Syndicate. Caught him at the bar after he dropped two shots of tequila, no salt just a lime. I was bumming out at the time because I had just gotten busted cheating on these two girls. Wasn't gonna go to the show, but got that phone call with both of them on the phone interrogating my ass. Dropped the phone and caught my roommate as he was leaving to go to the show. After talking to Zawinul, that shit was in the past - until the next day when my loins ached for relief and I had no one to call. Played Zawinul/Weather Report composition "Between the Thighs" our of some submerged sense of masochism I didn't know I had.

Damn Zawinul's dead. His compositions took the Cannonball Adderly Quintet to a higher level of popularity in the 60s. "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" is a classic! "Walk Tall," "74 Miles Away," and "The Country Preacher" too. His use of the Fender Rhodes inspired Miles to do the same. Of course then, Miles had to have him in the band. And he recorded Zawinul's songs like "In a Silent Way" and "Pharoah's Dance."

I could go on. That Weather Report Live and Unreleased is a very good indicator of how much energy WR brought for three straight hours. The sequencing is whack though.

RIP Zawinul from a brotha whose days you brightened too many to count.

odocoileus said...

Yeah, even the great ones have to go. A good long run, though. Jaco Pastorius passed some time earlier.

I've got Birdland playing in my head.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

Jaco passed away in '87 I believe. That was baad combination. I'm partial to Alphonso Johnson myself, but with either one you couldn't go wrong with Joe synthesizer orchestra at his fingertips and Wayne some intellectual shit on top, in between, and in the background.

Zawinul's first album entitled "Zawinul" is a must-have. Great compositions, great playing, and great liner notes by Miles Davis.

Roberto Rivera said...

I wrote an appreciation of Joe Zawinul over at the Point. Yesterday, it was all Joe, all the time at chez Rivera: In A Silent Way, Bitches Brew, Tale Spinnin', Heavy Weather, etc.

memomachine said...


I'm really sorry to hear this.

I must admit that I'm very much a beginner when it comes to jazz and that I very much appreciate the pointers given out on this blog on musicians and albums to check out. Otherwise I'd be pretty much at a loss when it comes to modern jazz.

Undercover Black Man said...

DeAngelo, thanks for sharing those memories. Weather Report was too deep for me as a teenager. The guys I remember being into Weather Report were the guitar players and bass players.

Memomachine, thanks for the comment. It's never too late to wade into the jazz river. I only started listening to the bop-era masters -- Coltrane, Mingus, Monk, Rollins, etc. -- a mere four years ago.

Once I did, though, I was gone. Have downloaded thousands of tracks, bought hundreds of CDs... all of it basically small-group instrumental bop-oriented stuff, hardly any jazz vocalist, not much free jazz, not much fusion. There is so much out there to feed the mind and soul.

And the best thing about the MP3 era... you can try artists out a track at a time. You can sample a broad range of music for not much money, and figure out who and what moves you.

memomachine said...


Memomachine, thanks for the comment. It's never too late to wade into the jazz river. I only started listening to the bop-era masters -- Coltrane, Mingus, Monk, Rollins, etc. -- a mere four years ago.

Yeah I started pretty recently. While I'm not overly keen about it's actual use, there's some really irritating quirks with the system, I've been using Napster (paid service) to go through Coltrane, Monk and Mingus. For one thing there's a lot of live recordings of Coltrane that are pretty nice.

The cause of most of this is that I picked up the bass guitar after years, and years, of neglect and decided that this would be my hobby of choice into my golden years. So here I am a 43 year old conservative asian trying to pick up slap-funk, ska and jazz bass.


Yeah it's pretty frightening. :):)

So it's pretty nice returning to you blog. I came for the political debate, but I'm staying for the music. Thanks for maintaining the blog!