say it ain't so, joe

Joe Zawinul was one badass mutha. At 70, he could swim a mile, hard. Or outdrink you, glass after glass of that sweet Slivovitz wine he favored. Or kick your ass -- OK, maybe just scare you in to to thinking he would with a single glare.
Or he could sit at a piano and play the most tender ballad you'd ever heard. Or, from behind one of his arsenal of electonic keyboards and synths, create a groove that, as one musician put it, "just entered your body."
But at 75, early this morning in his native Vienna, Austria, Zawinul died after a lingering illness.

Make room for Joe alongside those classical icons on the list of Viennese composers; don't dare leave the Austrian-born Zawinul out of any account of great musicians who advanced African-American tradition.
Here's an obituary from today's International Herald Tribune.
And here's a piece I wrote about Zawinul two years ago for Global Rhythm, a magazine I edited in an earlier incarnation (of both the publication and me).
I'll miss Joe's powerful bear-hug and the warm embrace -- in any style, at any tempo -- of his music.

September 11, 2007 11:17 AM | | Comments (0)

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Evan Christopher Django à la Créole (Lejazzetal) 

Clarinetist Evan Christopher, a California native, moved to New Orleans in 1994. In his frequent duets with Tom McDermott, and as a standout member of trumpeter Irvin Mayfield's New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, his erudite and personalized approach to traditional jazz commands attention.

Dr. Michael White Blue Crescent (Basin Street) 

Long before the floods that devastated his city, clarinetist Michael White wrestled with the challenge of preserving New Orleans traditional jazz without embalming it. He sought to write tunes built on time-honored local forms that spoke to the here-and-now. But Dr. White struggled to compose anything at all during the past three years--until late 2007, when original music began pouring forth.

 
Dee Dee Bridgewater
Red Earth: A Malian Journey (DDB Records/Emarcy/Universal) Despite her place in the top rank of American jazz vocalists and her crossover success, Dee Dee Bridgewater has often felt displaced. "I'm always trying to fit in somewhere," she once told me. This new disc, which finds Ms. Bridgewater and her band in collaboration with a cast of Malian musicians and singers, is no further pose:
David Murray Black Saint Quartet featuring Cassandra Wilson Sacred Ground (Justin Time) 
Long among the strongest, most adventurous reedmen in jazz,
Joe Zawinul Brown Street (Heads Up) 
The list of great Viennese composers must include Zawinul--same for the honor roll of jazz innovators.
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This page contains a single entry by ListenGood published on September 11, 2007 11:17 AM.

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