Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Remembering Joe Zawinul, Jazz keyboard master

It was truly a shock to hear today about the passing of the great jazz musician, Joe Zawinul, best known as co-founder of Weather Report. With co-founder sax player,Wayne Short, Joe Zawinul's Weather Report, blazed trail across the music landscape that many followed but few could equal. In '70 they were vanguard of Jazz Fusion, that hybrid and, when played by lesser musicians, bastard child of "Rock" and "Jazz". But Weather Reports music still holds up, their tune "Birdland" has become a true classic, due in large part to the stunning bass work of the late Jaco Pastorius.

What I remenber most about Weather Report was that at the time I started listening to them in the '70's, I was solidly into guitar base groups, Jimi Hendrix Experience, John Mclaughlin, Jeff Beck, Cream, etc. But, Weather Report was always on my turntable (I stll have those vinyl records, folks!), and they didn't have a lead guitarist in the group! Their music was so good it just grabbed you and shock you until you fell to the floor, a happy heap, dazed and amazed.

Of course, Weather Report wasn't Joe's first band. He played with along list of jazz greats, likes Cannonball Andderly, who Joe wrote the classic Jazz tune "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" for (one of the most soulful tunes ever) and Miles Davis. It was in Miles Davis' "Bitch Brew" session that the seeds of Weather Report were sown. Check the band members list and see how many jazz fusion bands grow from it's personal.

With the passing of Joe Zawinul, and the recent passing of jazz great drummer Max Roach, the music world and our life are a little poorer. But the pure, bright, joy of their music will enrich the lives of all those who take to the time to embrace it with a open heart, mind, and ears.

The Joe's family I offer my most humble condolences. He will always live in our hearts.

Here's a Live performance of Weather Reports' "Birdland"

Here's solo guitarist form Youtube doing a "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy".

Enjoy, and peace.

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