Last week the Zawinul Syndicate played its first gig in the states in quite some time, with a Thursday night performance at the Korg 40th Anniversary Party, in conjunction with the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) tradeshow in Anaheim. Making his Syndicate debut on drums was Roger Biwandu, a drummer out of France who over the past few years has played in the band Chic Hot with Syndicate bassplayer Etienne M’Bappe. Tonight Zawinul told his Blue Note audience that Paco Sery had visa problems, among other things, and was unable to make the dates here in the states. Biwandu’s first rehearsal with the band was at the soundcheck before the Korg party! In any event, reports from the Catalina’s gigs over the weekend indicate that Biwandu was settling in quite rapidly. Whether this means Biwandu will stay with the Syndicate during its upcoming spring and summer tour of Europe remains to be seen.
Earlier last week Zawinul was inducted into Guitar Center’s Hollywood Rockwalk, along with Herbie Hancock and Korg founder and chairman Tsutomu Katoh.