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Zawinul was born to lower-middle class parents his father was a clerk with the gas company in a poor district of Vienna.
JazzSearch: THE SONG AND THE STORY: BIRDLAND
His twin, Erich, died of pneumonia at four. He had perfect pitch, and his musical talents were clear from an early age, honing his self-taught keyboard skills on the accordion.
He later described the synthesizer, on which he became an influential virtuoso, as the accordion’s natural successor.
There was no piano at home in a municipal flatbut the young Joe studied piano, violin and clarinet at the Vienna Conservatory, where he was given a free place at the age of seven.
In the s, he began to zawunul piano with leading Austrian musicians such as Hans Koller and the Fatty George group. His contemporaries included classical composer-pianist Friedrich Gulda obituary, February 1later to collaborate with Zawinul on Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, and he played for dances with Thomas Klestil, later president of Austria obituary, July 8 Having friends in high places came in handy when he branched out into other interests.
Birdland (song) – Wikipedia
He opened a club, Joe Zawinul’s Birdland, in Vienna, and also went into action to combat pollution in Senegal. This led to his appointment by the Austrian government as “goodwill ambassador” for 17 African nations. After making a name for himself on the home scene, Zawinul won a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston. Jazz composer Mike Gibbs, who arrived on the same day as Zawinul intold zawinlu After Ferguson obituary, August 26 came gigs with Dinah Washington and a long stint with the highly successful band biedland Cannonball Adderley, who shrewdly gave Zawinul a chance to write.
In he delivered the great soul-jazz classic Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, a commercial but subtle piece that demonstrated how successfully this white Austrian had absorbed the gospel-like birdlanr of black jazz.
He remained with Adderley untilwhile young turks such as Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock grabbed headlines. Zawinul told me in a interview that a “little crisis” came when pianist Barry Harris congratulated Zawinul for sounding exactly like Harris on a record.
But after a little more reflection, he decided to forge a more individual direction. First, he found a piano teacher, Raymond Leventhal.
Then, he found his voice as a composer, bringing several tunes to the Miles Davis sessions in and that produced the groundbreaking albums In a Silent Way, Bitches Zaawinul and Live-Evil. Wayne Shorter left Davis’s band biedland teamed up with Zawinul in to form Weather Report, one of the great groups of that era. Weather Report was a commercial and critical success, winning 15 consecutive Down Beat International critics’ and readers’ polls and zawinuk Grammy for their live double album 8.
With a changing cast of characters on percussion, drums zawihul bass including the spectacularly talented Jaco Pastorius over their year career, the Weather Report sound was immediately recognisable and consistently creative in style and content. Zawinul and Shorter’s band combined the exuberance and energy of rock and funk with the depth and musicality of jazz. Fans who attended Weather Report’s concerts in the s and 80s recall the warmth and spirit that infused those events.
Their most successful album was Heavy Weather inwhich included Zawinul’s hit Birdland, a radio ibrdland later covered by Manhattan Transfer and Quincy Jones. Yet Birdland, an instrumental paean to the legendary New York jazz club, is a rich and complex composition, with more invention in one track than most jazz fusion artists manage on an entire album. Listen to a random sampling of Weather Report tracks and you can hear every kind of music, from contemporary classical and ambient through nascent hip-hop th St Congress and tough post-bop Night Passage to emerging World Music Confians, Badianot to mention a masterly command of electronics, free-form improvisation, funk and ambient soundscapes, and the moving Cannon Ball, birrland beautiful elegy for Adderley.
Zawinul called Weather Report “the last of the great storytellers”, and those stories still have relevance for today’s music makers.
After Zawinul and Shorter split inthe former produced a solo keyboard record Dialects before briefly and hastily forming Weather Update and then founding the more serious Zawinul Syndicate, which undertook a heroic touring schedule for much of the past two decades. Zawinul ignored most of his back catalogue and wrote a library of terrific new tunes, zawinil Patriots, Zawinil, Lost Tribes and Borges Buenos Aires, bubbling streams of energy that ran naturally into the growing delta of world music.
Zawinul “discovered” Africa when he produced the album Amen, by Malian singer Salif Keita, and found it a revelation, along with its musicians. When they were in Africa, growing up, they listened to Weather Report.
Black Market was a theme song on Radio Dakar in Senegal. Over the past 15 years there were several projects alongside the band. Stories of the Danube was a full-length symphonic work. Weather Report summed up their approach with the musical policy statement: Zawinul often paid tribute to his wife, Maxine, who died earlier this year, and his sons Anthony, Erich and Ivan also his tireless sound engineer.
We said Joe Zawinul “often paid tribute to In fact it was Ivan who was his sound engineer and co-producer. This has been corrected.
Joe Zawinul, who has died aged 75 of cancer, is one of a handful of people who changed the way music sounds. As a composer, jazz keyboardist, bandleader and hit-maker, he put his stamp on five decades of music – through his own bands, Weather Report co-founded with saxophonist Wayne Shorter and the Zawinul Syndicate, and also the tunes he wrote for Cannonball Adderley and Miles Davis.
He had a crucial impact on the sound of what we now call world music, working with Salif Keita and Trilok Gurtu, and championing talents such as Karim Ziad and Richard Bona, whose career took off after a spell in the Syndicate.