Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Joe Zawinul, 1932-2007

It’s another sad day for jazz fans. Keyboardist Joe Zawinul has died at 75.

He was probably best known for his role alongside Wayne Shorter as co-founder and co-leader of the popular jazz fusion group Weather Report, as well as for popularizing the use of electronic instruments and synthesizers in jazz music. He was as responsible as anyone, save arguably Miles Davis, for making electronic instrumentation acceptable and popular among large numbers of jazz fans.

Zawinul had many highlights in his long career, including 15 years with Weather Report from 1970 to 1985. Among the other highlights of his career were: a stint in Cannonball Adderley’s band in the mid-1960s (including the recordings of the hit songs “Money in the Pocket” and “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” – both written by Zawinul); a period with Miles Davis’ band in the late 1960s, including participation in the albums In a Silent Way (with the title song written by Zawinul, and possibly the most formidable keyboard line-up of all time with Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock on electric pianos and Zawinul on organ) and Bitches Brew (like In a Silent Way, an album featuring a sort of wall-of-keyboards sound with Zawinul, Corea, and Larry Young); and several acclaimed albums after the break-up of Weather Report under his own name or with his band Zawinul Syndicate.

For an obituary of Zawinul, click here.

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