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September 11, 2007

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.

Posted by blumenfeld at September 11, 2007 11:17 AM


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