Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Joe Zawinul, RIP

Unfortunate news to report. Austrian jazz great Joe Zawinul has died at 75 in a Vienna hospital. Zawinul was one of the most influential European jazz musicians of the post war period. During his stint with Cannonball Adderley in the 1960s he wrote the hit "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" and was an early exponent of the use of electric piano in jazz. He was a participant in the late '60s Miles Davis sessions that resulted in the pioneering jazz fusion albums In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew, writing the title cut of the former and contributing the (then) album side long cut "Pharoah's Dance" to the latter. In the 1970s he formed the group Weather Report with veteran tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter, which saw considerable success and saw Zawinul as one of the early and major promoters of synthesizers in jazz. He remained musically active until his recent hospital stint, having toured earlier this year with his current group, and having recently appeared as the cover story in Downbeat magazine.

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