A reader let us know that the Blue Note in New York informed him that “The Zawinul Syndicate will not be performing here in June. They canceled on us.”
Those of you interested in the latest hijinks of former Zawinul Syndicate sidemen Scott Henderson and Kirk Covington (as well as keyboardist Scott Kinsey, who has a hand in Zawinul’s new album) might want to check out the unofficial Tribal Tech tour diary, maintained by yours truly and chronicling the band’s nearly month-long tour of Europe. There are actually members of the audience shouting out suggestions from the diary, so apparently someone is reading it!
Work on the new Zawinul album, Faces and Places, is just about complete. I am told that it is scheduled to be mastered in April and will be released this fall. According to the ESC Records web site, guest musicians include Paco Sery, Maria Joao, Etienne M’Bappe, Sabine Kabongo, Victor Bailey, Richard Bona, Richard Page and Alex Acuna.
The Zawinul Syndicate, with the incomparable Paco Sery back in the drum chair, will tour Europe this spring and summer, as well as this fall, in what is being billed as the “70th Birthday Tour.” (Zawinul will celebrate his 70th birthday on July 7.) Plans are pretty solid for May, as I have reported on the Tour Dates page. The Syndicate starts off with 12 straight one-nighters in Holland, Germany, France and Switzerland, followed by an encore performance at the St. Louis Jazz Festival in Senegal, Africa, where the Syndicate performed in 1997. Then it’s back to Europe for more gigs in France and Norway. The Syndicate will return to the US at the end of May and will hold forth at the Blue Note in New York, June 11-16. I’ll post more tour dates as I get them.
I understand that a big birthday celebration will be held in Vienna this summer, and in November there will be another big gala in Germany featuring the Zawinul Syndicate and a repeat of the IAJE/EJFO tribute to Zawinul with the WDR German Radio Big Band, plus lots of special guests sitting in.
Meanwhile, Victor Bailey is taking his own band to Europe this summer, with Jim Beard, Bennie Maupin, David Gilmore and Poogie Bell.
Finally, I saw the Pat Metheny Group in concert a couple of weeks ago. As reported here earlier, former Syndicate bassplayer Richard Bona joined the group some months back, recording their new album Speaking Of Now. With Pat Metheny, Bona is singing and playing a variety of instruments including percussion and guitar. Metheny already has Steve Rodby on acoustic and electric bass, so Bona has only a couple of chances to play the electric bass. One of the tunes on the set list is a trio number with Metheny, drummer Antonio Sanchez (who is very impressive!) and Bona on electric bass. Bona also has a solo spot near the end of the show in which he scats and plays electric bass in unison. All in all, I think the exposure that Bona is getting with the Pat Metheny Group will be very helpful in boosting his career. Most of the folks in the audience have no idea who he is, but are blown away when they hear him sing and play.
Journalist Anil Prasad reports that Sony is releasing three remastered Weather Report albums on June 4: Mysterious Traveller, Tale Spinnin’ and Black Market. We’ll know it’s official when they show up on the Sony Legacy Recordings New Releases web page. Prasad also reports that Sony plans a “Best of Weather Report” album, and that negotiations are underway regarding the long-awaited boxed set of unreleased studio and live recordings. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
As reported earlier, Zawinul was the recipient of the European Jazz Festivals Organization (EJFO) inaugural International Jazz Award during the International Association of Jazz Educators Conference this past December in Long Beach, California. Aside from receiving the award and a $20,000 honorarium, Zawinul was honored by a special concert by the WDR German Radio Big Band, performing Zawinul compositions arranged and conducted by Vince Mendoza. Performing with the band were Weather Report and Zawinul alumni Peter Erskine, Victor Bailey and Alex Acuna. Manning the keyboards was Tribal Tech keyboardist Scott Kinsey. Zawinul himself was busy working on his own album, and did not participate in the rehearsals. The set list consisted of “Fast City,” “Dreamclock,” “Carnavalito,” “Rua Paula Freitas,” “In a Silent Way,” and “Badia/Boogie Woogie Waltz.”
I’m told that Zawinul and the WDR Big Band will do it again in November in Germany.
The performers take a bow. Left to right: Alex Acuna, Scott Kinsey, Victor Bailey, Peter Erskine, Joe Zawinul, Vince Mendoza. Photo: Cheryl Graul.