Tuesday, September 11, 2007


While most of the media attention has gone, understandably, to Pavarotti, the musical demise that has impacted me most has been the death today of the extraordinary Austrian pianist Joe Zawinul. His time as keyboard player with Miles Davis and his co-founding of Weather Report with saxophonist Wayne Shorter, guitarist Miroslav Vitous and bass player Jaco Pastorius are true milestones in contemporary jazz. But he was so much larger than this. I was privileged to see him in improvisatory mode (a pulsating set of avant, blue note-inflected classicism and world beat) in Cardiff a couple of years ago. He was sharing the honours with Bill Bruford's Earthworks.

In 2004 Zawinul bought a jazz club in Vienna, the Birdland, but continued to tour with his new group, the Zawinul Syndicate. He was due to play this September at the La Villette jazz festival in Paris, but the performance was cancelled due to his ill health. Over the course of his career, Joe was named pianist of the year 28 times by the American jazz magazine Down Beat. That speaks volumes. But not nearly as eloquently as the notes he modulated.

Comment on this post: NewFrontEars

No comments: