One day I heard a pianist play `Honeysuckle Rose,’ … and I was hooked. I said, `What is that?’ He said, `jazz,’ which was a word I had never heard, and I asked him to spell it for me. My life was changed after that. – Joe Zawinul
I am an improviser, … I improvise music. Whatever you want to call it all, it is all improvised music. I may capture it and go back and write it down for others, but it was originally improvised. – Joe Zawinul
For a white Viennese boy to write a tune that’s that black is pretty remarkable. He just captured the essence of the African-American heritage, just the statement of melody and feeling of that song. Clearly, in some past life, Joe must’ve been black. – Herbie Hancock on “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.”
Zawinul has been gone nearly two years. For a Rifftides reminiscence posted upon his passing, go here. It includes the story of why Cannonball Adderley’s first-choice take of “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” was nixed by the record company.