Thursday, June 26, 2008

In Rememberance:Joe Zawinul

What can I say? Another great one is gone. He and Miles, were a part of a revolution in Jazz and music in general. Both are gone and we are the worse for it. It is sad when a person dies and leaves us, it is even more sad when a musical voice is silenced. Joe had a voice. I was privileged to see him at Cleveland State, It was a great show, he was in rare form. That show had me jonesin' for a Weather Report reunion. It never happened. My date had heard his music through me, so she was excited. She just was not ready for what she saw Joe and the Rhythm Syndicate do! She told me she "saw" his music when we would listen to him at home. When they took the stage she drowned in Joe's groove, melodies, colors, textures and rhythmic complexities.

He converted her to his musical practice of Pan-ethnic-eclectic-electric-Pentecostalism! I had the occasion to meet the great bass player Alphonso Johnson, who had played with Weather Report. He was playing in one of those real cool free Friday night Jazz shows at LACMA in L.A. He was playing with Patrice Rushen, Bennie Maupin, Ndugu Chancelor among others. I asked him about playing with Joe. He said "Joe was basically open to many different cultures and it came out in the music "

When I first heard his music I thought he was black, he wrote a song called Country Preacher that captured the essence of what that might feel/sound like. The same with Mercy, Mercy, Mercy. He did both of those songs with the great Cannonball Adderley. I think Miles put it best when he spoke about what makes Joe so unique "In order to write this type of music you have to be free inside of yourself and be Josef Zawinul with two beige kids, a black wife, two pianos, from Vienna, a Cancer and Cliché-Free." He was all that! NPR did a story on him the link will take you there. Peace!
A Look at the Life and Work of Joe Zawinul

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