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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Absolute Ensemble Featuring Joe Zawinul: Absolute Zawinul

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Few musicians have left a stamp on modern music as indelible as Josef Zawinul. In an artistic life that spanned over fifty years, playing and absorbing the sounds of nearly every continent, Zawinul not only wrote and played beautiful music on the piano but also extended the horizons of the synthesizer in contemporary music. No one--not even Ralph Towner and Lyle Mays--has done more for the instrument in all its incarnations and Zawinul, probably out of a certain diffidence, made its vocal peripheral, the Vocoder, something of his own. On Absolute Zawinul, a project that came together in the sunset ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Absolute Ensemble featuring Joe Zawinul: Absolute Zawinul

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The musical legacy of Austrian-born composer/keyboardist Joe Zawinul extends further than his illustrious tenure with Cannonball Adderley and Miles Davis (1960s-1970s) or as co-leader of the fusion super-group Weather Report (1970s-1980s) with fellow icon musicians Wayne Shorter and Jaco Pastorius. In his later days, although with less notoriety, he continued to gain momentum by recording and performing with his newfound ensembles Weather Update and Zawinul Syndicate, which produced an eclectic and vibrant body of music. The posthumous Absolute Zawinul is Zawinul's last studio recording before his passing on September 11, 2007. In collaboration with Estonian-born conductor/composer Kristjan ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Zawinul: Money In The Pocket

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Recorded in late 1965, while keyboard player Joe Zawinul was still a member of saxophonist Cannonball Adderley's band, Money In The Pocket is a remarkable album--remarkable in that gives absolutely no hint of the shape shifts that would transform Zawinul's work a few years later. The first of three albums he recorded for Atlantic, it's a conventional mix of mid-1960s hard bop and soul jazz. Trumpeter Miles Davis' revolutionary In A Silent Way (CBS), recorded in early 1969, which featured Zawinul (who also wrote the title track), is on another planet, while Weather Report's eponymous debut (CBS, 1971) is in ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Joe Zawinul: A Musical Portrait

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Joe Zawinul A Musical Portrait Arthaus Musik 2008

Joe Zawinul was a man of many parts. Player of keyboards, composer, vocalist, and boxing enthusiast: he rolled them all into one. All of these are given a close look by director Mark Kidel on A Musical Portrait.

Zawinul was born in Vienna and brought up playing classical music. But there was a far greater calling for him one that was nudged by his natural curiosity. When he was around seven, he took the green felt from a billiards table and added ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Zawinul & The Zawinul Syndicate: 75

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Some artists play until they drop--not always a good thing--but for Weather Report co-founder/Zawinul Syndicate leader Joe Zawinul, his life was defined by a tough stoicism. Unlike drummer Elvin Jones, whose final days were tragic in the loss of his signature strength, the groundbreaking keyboardist gigged--despite the Merkel cell carcinoma that would result in his passing on September 11, 2007--until very near the end. Based on 75--taken from gigs recorded within two months of passing--there were certainly no indicators that he was ill, let alone approaching death. The closing tracks on the second of this two-CD set ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Zawinul & The Zawinul Syndicate: 75

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A gift. That's perhaps the most effective description of the late Josef (Joe) Zawinul and what he has given to the world of music. So it follows that on his 75th and final birthday, one of the pioneers of jazz fusion performed the music that would become the two-disc 75, his final recording. Zawinul was born in Austria but moved to the United States, where he played with such luminaries as Maynard Ferguson and Cannonball Adderley. It was during his time with Adderley's band that Zawinul composed the often-covered “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," a favorite among jazz and blues ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Zawinul: Brown Street

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If you're looking to relax and maybe have a little background music to help you snooze, don't go near Brown Street, the new release by Austrian-born Joe Zawinul. If, on the other hand, you need a pick-me-up, this is it. Revisiting some of his past hits and backed by the WDR Big Band, Zawinul reiterates that he's an exceptional musician and songwriter. Zawinul's career has spanned more than four decades. Among the jazz icons he has performed or recorded with are Maynard Ferguson, Miles Davis and Cannonball Adderley. It was during his years with Adderley that Zawinul ...

INTERVIEWS

Joe Zawinul: Still Stirring Up The Weather

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“The music seemed fresh. If any of those bands stayed fresh, it was Weather Report, the band of the '70s and early '80s, says legendary keyboardist Joe Zawinul, cofounder, with Wayne Shorter, of the seminal fusion band that leaped to the forefront of the music during that time and hurled it around the globe, winning legions of fans as well as accolades from the critics and media.Weather Report hasn't played since 1985 when Shorter and Zawinul decided to go their separate ways after sixteen albums and a Grammy [8:30 (Columbia, 1979)]. But the music, seldom heard except for ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Zawinul: Brown Street

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The fusion supergroup Weather Report's hit “Birdland" may have been covered by big bands before, but the majority of the extensive repertoire created during its 1971-86 run has remained largely untouched. Given founding member Joe Zawinul's innovative orchestrations on primitive analogue synthesizers, it's surprising more large ensembles haven't taken advantage of his ready-made arrangements. Until now. Teaming with arranger Vince Mendoza, Brown Street represents the first time Zawinul has taken a concerted look back, and it's an exciting one. Critics of Weather Report often point to the arguably dated and “cheesy" synth sounds. Brown ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Zawinul & The Zawinul Syndicate: Vienna Nights: Live at Joe Zawinul's Birdland

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As good as keyboardist/composer Joe Zawinul's last album (the '02 studio effort Faces and Places) was, his latest proves that some music is really meant to be experienced live. It's not about stretching out, although Zawinul's latest edition of the Zawinul Syndicate does take the opportunity to expand on the five tunes from Faces and Places that take up nearly half of this hundred-minute, two-CD set. It's about the kind of energy that only happens in front of an audience, where music becomes a two-way affair, band and audience feeding equally off each other. This isn't Zawinul's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Zawinul & The Zawinul Syndicate: Vienna Nights: Live at Joe Zawinul's Birdland

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Recorded at Birdland in Vienna, Austria last May and September for his own label, Joe Zawinul's powerhouse unit gives this live audience quite a thrill. Keyboards, percussion, provocative bass lines, and evocative vocals fill the room with unique sounds.

Zawinul affects a vocoder air in conversation with Arto Tuncboyaciyan on “Do You Want Some Tea, Grandpa?" with impressive results. The slow, sensitive ballad reveals one side of the Zawinul Syndicate. Driving tirades and muscular fits of passion reveal the other side.

Allowing vocals to merge with fast-flying instrumental power throughout the two-CD set, Zawinul captures the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Zawinul: The Rise & Fall of the Third Stream

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The term “Third Stream" was coined to describe the marriage of classical and jazz music in composition and performance. Despite bordering on pretension, in most cases this ambitious movement created some of the worst records in history. Fans of either genre remained content to keep their music free from the perceived impurities of the other.

Third Stream music had more or less fallen by the wayside by the mid-sixties, but a chance meeting between Zawinul and composer William Fischer inspired this ambitious 1965 attempt to once again present classical composition in a jazz context. Not bad for ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Zawinul: Faces & Places

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Joe Zawinul wants us to know a secret, if you take the portrait in the liner notes at face value: fusion never died. Zawinul made his reputation at the keyboards with Miles Davis and soared to stardom as the guiding light of Weather Report, a pinnacle of jazz-rock fusion which the genre has rarely surpassed. Lately he's been delving into fusion of another sort, one that might be called “world music" without any of the ethnocentrism this term usually implies. Faces & Places marks a distinctive high-water point for Zawinul, a sentinel of its possibilities and depth.

For ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joe Zawinul: Faces & Places

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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 ...



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