picture of Joe Zawinul
Joe Zawinul
Joe (* 1932 in Wien)was a jazz keyboardist and composer. He grew up in Wien, Austria. Accordion was his first instrument. When he was six or seven, he studied clarinet, violin, and piano at the Konservatorium Wien. During the 1950s he was a staff pianist for Polydor. He worked as a jazz musician with Hans Koller, Friedrich Gulda, Karl Drewo, and Fatty George. In 1959 he moved to the U.S. to attend Berklee College of Music, but a week later he received a job offer from Maynard Ferguson, so he left school and went on tour. He then accompanied Dinah Washington. He spent most of the 1960s with Cannonball Adderley. During this time he wrote "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" and "Walk Tall", and "Country Preacher" and played electric piano. At the end of the decade he recorded with Miles Davis on In a Silent Way as Davis was establishing the genre of jazz fusion, combining jazz with rock.
 
In 1970, Joe founded Weather Report with Wayne Shorter. Their first two years emphasized a relatively open, group improvisation format similar to what Miles Davis was doing in a more rock oriented format. However, Joe started making changes with their third album, Sweetnighter. Funk elements such as bass guitar and wah-wah pedal began to be introduced to the band's sound. With the fourth album, Mysterious Traveller, the musical forms were composed similar to classical music, and the combination of jazz harmonies with 1970s groove helped move the band into its most commercially successful period.
 
The band's biggest commercial success came from Joe's composition "Birdland" on the 1977 album Heavy Weather. "Birdland" is one of the most recognizable jazz pieces of the 1970s, recorded by The Manhattan Transfer, Quincy Jones, Maynard Ferguson, and Buddy Rich among others. The song won him three Grammys.
 
Weather Report was active until the mid-1980s, with Joe and Wayne remaining the sole constant members through multiple personnel shifts. Shorter and Zawinul went separate ways after recording Sportin' Life. In 1991, Joe was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music .
 
The Zawinul Syndicate was a jazz fusion band formed in 1988. It evolved out of Weather Report. Their style could be described as a combination of unusual grooves, driving and swinging rhythms and many borrowings from different music cultures. Joe himself stated that he gave the band its name due to a syndicate bearing more resemblance to a family than "just" a band.
 
Joe also wrote a symphony, called Stories of the Danube, which was commissioned by the Brucknerhaus, Linz/Austria. It was first performed as part of the Linzer Klangwolke (a large-scale open-air broadcast event), for the opening of the 1993 Bruckner Festival in Linz. In its seven movements, the symphony traces the course of the Danube from Donaueschingen/Germany through various countries ending at the Black Sea.
 
Zawinul became ill and was hospitalized in his native Wien in August 2007, after concluding a five-week European tour. He died in September 2007.
 
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Discography
In A Silent Way
Columbia CS 9875
released 1969
recorded February 1969
Miles Davis, trumpet
Wayne Shorter, tenor sax
John McLaughlin, guitar
Josef Zawinul, organ
Chick Corea, piano
Herbie Hancock, piano
Dave Holland, bass
Tony Williams, drums
Big Fun
Columbia PG 32866
released 1974
recorded November 1969 till June 1972
Miles Davis, trumpet
Carlos Carnette, soprano sax
Sonny Fortune, soprano sax, flute, vocals
Carlos Garnett, soprano sax
Steve Grossman, soprano sax
Wayne Shorter, soprano sax, tenor sax
Bennie Maupin, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet
John McLaughlin, guitar
Chick Corea, piano
Herbie Hancock, piano
Harold "Ivory" Williams, piano, sitar
Lonnie Liston Smith, piano
Larry Young, organ, celeste
Joe Zawinul, Farfisa Organ, piano
Khalil Balakrishna, sitar, percussion, tamboura
Bihari Sharma, sitar, percussion, tabla, tamboura
Harvey Brooks, bass
Ron Carter, bass
Michael Henderson, bass
Dave Holland, bass
Billy Cobham, drums, triangle
Jack DeJohnette, drums
Al Foster, drums
Billy Hart, drums
Airto Moreira, percussion, berimbau, cuica
James Mtume, African percussion
Badal Roy, tabla
Live In Tokyo 1978
LiveJazzLounge
released 1980
recorded live 28 June 1978 at Shinjuku Kouseinenkin Hall in Tokyo/Japan
Wayne Shorter, saxophones
Joe Zawinul, keyboards
Jaco Pastorius, bass
Peter Erskine, drums
Live In Buenos Aires 1980
LiveJazzLounge
released 1980
recorded live 20 August 1980 at Luna Park, Buenos Aires/Argentina
Wayne Shorter, saxophones
Joe Zawinul, keyboards
Jaco Pastorius, bass
Peter Erskine, drums
Bobby Thomas jr., percussion

 
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