At 70, Joe Zawinul can look back with a great deal of pride at his productive career. From Cannonball Adderley to Miles Davis, Weather Report, Zawinul Syndicate, and beyond, the Austrian-born artist has espoused many different aspects of the jazz form: always contemporary, and with a heavy emphasis on creative growth. Electronics play a major role on Faces & Places. So do languages and embedded cultural sounds from around the world.
The start of Zawinul’s career was steeped in the blues. Along the way from there to here, he’s moved away from those roots. Today’s emphasis lies with pop themes, exotic excerpts from the world-beat scene, and continued exploration into new electronic ideas. Spoken word and multi-tracking combine to provide contemporary scenes. “Café Andalusia,” for example, dies in midstream with a long, drawn-out spate of vocal acrobatics. Zawinul’s tribute to Julian Adderley relies on spoken word, accordion and a foreign tongue. Where is the natural soul that Cannonball Adderley espoused on his instrument as few others could?
“Good Day” has a lot in common with “Birdland.” To the song’s natural essence, Zawinul has added unusual wordless vocals and a hip-hop rhythm. Throughout most of the album, Zawinul’s keyboards control the atmosphere. His array of vocal shots provides something new and interesting. However, pop melodies and light rock rhythms have now taken over what the artist’s soulful roots started decades ago.
Track Listing: The Search; All About Simon; Introduction to Tower of Silence; Tower of Silence; The Spirit of Julian
Personnel: Joe Zawinul- keyboards, piano, spoken word, vocoder, keyboard bass; Paco Sery- drums, guitar, timbales, kalimba, percussion; Etienne Mbappe, Richard Bona- vocals, bass; Amit Chatterjee- vocals, guitar; Victor Bailey- bass; Nathaniel Townsley- drums; Zakir Hussain- tablas; Alex Acuna, Manolo Badrena, Rudy Regalado- percussion; Bobby Malach- tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, woodwinds; Dean Brown- guitar; Lester Benedict- trombone; Harry Kim- trumpet, flugelhorn; Maria Joao, Sabine Kabongo, Richard Page, Lori Perry, Darlene Perry, Sharon Perry, Carol Perry, Kitty Winter- vocals.