The readers of Down Beat magazine named Zawinul the top synthesist for the umpteenth time in the magazine’s annual readers poll, published in the December issue. I wonder when and if the readers will vote Zawinul into the magazine’s Hall of Fame. (Yes, there is actually a Down Beat Hall of Fame Museum in Orlando, Florida.) I’ve been a subscriber for years, but I have never voted, so it’s not like this weighs on my mind. But Wayne Shorter was voted into the hall last year by the music critics, and Jaco Pastorius was voted in by the readers in 1988 following his death. Zawinul, however, has never appeared to have gotten close.
This year the readers elected McCoy Tyner–certainly deserving. Ray Charles came in second, and he will almost assuredly go in next year by either the critics or the readers. After Charles, the readers voted for Nancy Wilson, Mark Murphy, Joe Williams, Four Freshman, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, Steve Lacey, Lee Konitz, Illinois Jacquet, Errol Garner, Sonny Stitt, and Billy Higgins. Come on… you can’t tell me that Zawinul shouldn’t rank amongst them somewhere. I guess I need to start voting.