Today would be Joe Zawinul’s 81st birthday. To honor his memory, I have chosen a couple of clips from an interview I did with him in February 2007. We sat outside on lounge chairs at Joe’s Malibu home, high on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. At the time, Joe’s wife, Maxine, was in the hospital. I wasn’t aware of the seriousness of her illness, just that Joe seemed tired. I wondered if I should leave, but he said no, we should do the interview. Of course, Joe himself was also ill and would pass away seven months later.
In the first clip, Joe talks about how his participation in Salif Keita’s 1991 album, Amen, came about.
In the next clip, Joe talks about the recording of Amen.
The album was very successful for Keita, but also proved to be something of a turning point of Joe, as it introduced him to a new community of musicians that helped him to fully realize his vision for the Syndicate. “We had so much fun,” he recalls. We had fun, too, Joe. We miss you, but the music lives.
(If you like these, I’ve posted some other interview clips in the past as well. In this one, I ask Joe about the importance of the human voice in his music and he gave me a revealing explanation of his musical philosophy. And in this one, he talks about the making of “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.”)