I’ve been remiss in not posting an update sooner, but things have been very busy here at work. Nevertheless, there have been some major shakeups in the Zawinul Syndicate, which is nearing the end of its spring tour of Europe. The changes are neatly described in an article/interview by Jempi Samyn on the JazzReview web site, from which I’m drawing much of this information. The article’s short, but a must read for Zawinul fans. Among other things, Zawinul briefly mentions his new band in Austria(!), and plans to record in Belgium at the end of April.
But back to the Syndicate. You may recall that back in January Zawinul was forced to bring in drummer Roger Biwandu on short notice to replace Paco Sery for concerts in California and New York. Then, with a spring tour of Europe planned, bassplayer Etienne M’Bappe evidently “forgot” that the Syndicate was booked for the spring, so Zawinul had to find a new bassplayer. That man was longtime Jean Luc Ponty fretless bassplayer Guy Nsangué Akwa. But Akwa had to bow out when he learned that the itinerary would include Russia and the Ukraine—countries for which he does not have a visa. So with less than two weeks until the start of the tour, Zawinul was once again in need of a bassplayer, and found Linley Marthe, who according to Zawinul is a better musician than M’Bappe. “Etienne is a master player, but only when he wants to and I can’t afford to play with musicians I can’t rely on.”
Meanwhile, presumably the drum chair was settled earlier in the year with New Yorker Marque Gilmore. I don’t know Gilmore’s music, but it sounds like an interesting choice. According to Gilmore’s web site, he is “a neo-legendary drummer and one of the founding members of NYC’s Black Rock Coalition, a musician and student of the metaphysical realms of sound. Marque has been at the forefront of Live Drum & Bass since 1993, his musicianship is critically acclaimed worldwide and maintains this position with his project “DRUM-FM: Interactive Tribalistic Sessions.” Launched as an “interactive jungle club” in New York City in 1994, DRUM-FM is to date, the first live Jungle/Drum & Bass ensemble specifically combining live instrumentation, MIDI-electronics and DJs in performance and studio production.” Some of the performance reviews on Gilmore’s web site sound fascinating, and have definitely peaked my interest in what this edition of the Zawinul Syndicate sounds like.
Meanwhile, some details on Zawinul’s summer plans are emerging, and he’ll be hitting some venues that haven’t had a Zawinul sighting in quite some time, if ever. I know that he is booked at the Montreal Jazz Festival in and Freihofer’s Jazz Festival in New York—both of which take place in June—as well as the Vienna Jazz Festival and Festival Africajarc in France in July. I believe he will also perform in Vancouver, British Columbia, but that has not been officially announced yet.