Joe Zawinul will perform a special concert in New York City on May 31 with internationally acclaimed guitarist and composer Wolfgang Muthspiel. The concert is part of the Mostly Jazz festival being presented by the Austrian Culture Forum in New York. The concert is free, but due to limited seating, a ticket must be obtained on the day of the show, on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information, visit the Mostly Jazz web site.
On June 4 Sony Legacy Recordings will release reissues of three Weather Report recordings, as well as a Weather Report "best of" CD. The three reissues are Mysterious Traveller, Tale Spinnin’, and Black Market. For those wondering, it does not appear that there will be any bonus tracks.
Journalist Bill Milkowski interviewed Zawinul about the albums, and Zawinul’s track-by-track descriptions are on the JazzTimes web site. Milkowski says that Wayne Shorter will comment on Weather Report and the reissues in the June issue of JazzTimes magazine.
I should have posted this sooner, but Zawinul was on the cover of the May issue of Down Beat magazine. The article, by Zan Stewart, was based on an interview Stewart conducted in front of a live audience at the 29th Annual International Association for Jazz Education Conference held in January. For well-read Zawinul and Weather Report fans, there is nothing new in the article, and there were no details offered about Zawinul’s upcoming album, Faces and Places.
Zawinul fan Rolf Langhans sent this report of the Syndicate’s May 2 performance.
The Zawinul Syndicate was in Berlin at the Club Quasimodo. It’s really a nice club, seating maybe 200 to 250 people. The band and the music was incredible—so much energy. (It was pretty loud, too.) At 70 years old, Zawinul’s playing is so fresh, I can’t believe it. Manolo Badrena still looks like his Weather Report photos of 27 years ago. Paco Sery was great , although he messed up the fast swing tune "Two Lines." It was too fast for him. [I find that hard to believe! —Curt] But everyone in the band took it with a smile. The guitar player was a little boring—blues-pentatonic licks and scale runs.
The new bass man, Etienne M’Bappe, is a killer. He has a more percussive sound than Victor Bailey, and he also has a penchant for slapping. It was my fifth Syndicate concert (I am too young to have seen Weather Report), and the musicians usually look at Zawinul like children all the time. Etienne M’Bappe was the first I saw who didn’t seem to be so intimidated by Zawinul, often played with his back to Zawinul.
Being in Germany, Zawinul spoke in his mother tongue. I like his Vienna dialect. And he really has a sense of humor. One tune featured an African marimba player whose name I don’t know, but he played his ass off! So all in all, it was a really great concert. They played new songs and some old ones, but no Weather Report tunes. Although Berlin is a huge city with a lot of music, concerts of this caliber and quality are pretty rare!
The Zawinul Syndicate European tour began with a concert in Amsterdam, Holland last night. Tony Wawryk sent me this report.
Last night’s show at Melkweg, which seats about 800-1000 people, was sold out and steaming! Hard to believe Joe Zawinul is 70 this year! Still, if he keeps surrounding himself with musicians like the current line up, they’ll keep him going another decade at least. First time I’d been exposed to Amit Chatterjee and Etienne M’Bappe live—what players! I have had the great good fortune to see Weather Report a number of times, particularly at their peak (IMO) in the mid to late 70s, and although JZ has not found , nor is he likely to find, another partner like Wayne to bounce off, these guys will more than do! And Joe certainly makes them earn their keep. I was about 5 meters from the stage and had a marvelous view of the interaction between the players, and the way they kept their eyes on Joe while he led them through the changes was a joy to behold, especially his small gestures of appreciation as one or other of the band hit the spot.
There seemed to be a couple of minor technical hiccups with the keyboards, possibly due to the heat in the venue, possibly due to it being the first date of the tour. Joe also cut his hand/wrist on an edge during the very first number, and required plasters to keep from bleeding on the keyboards. Didn’t stop him, though! A couple of new pieces (names not announced) were played—if they’re on the new album it bodes well—and there were some Weather Report quotes: "Port of Entry" with some fabulous bass from M’Bappe, and Badrena reprised to a degree at least, his duet with Alex Acuna ("Rumba Mama" from Heavy Weather), but this time with Paco Sery, whose birthday was yesterday also. He got a rousing cheer from the crowd, who clearly had a great time, and evidently so did the band.