In August, the Zawinul Syndicate will make its first visit to Japan in several years, with stops at Nagoya, Yokohama, Sapporo and Tokyo. Also on the schedule this fall is a brief tour of the US, including a four-night stint at Blues Alley in Washington, DC; a return engagement at the San Francisco Jazz Festival, a one-nighter at my favorite venue to see Joe, the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz, California; and finally, a three-night stand on Joe’s home turf in Southern California at Catalina Bar and Grill in Hollywood.
Also on the schedule are two performances in New York as part of the Jazz at Lincoln Center series. This is interesting because Wynton Marsalis is J@LC’s music director, and Marsalis has not been bashful about expressing his sentiments regarding fusion music. (See Ken Burns’ JAZZ—The Fusion Transcripts for some examples.) And Joe has had a few things to say about Wynton as well. He once told journalist Stuart Nicholson, “To me [Marsalis] is more of a teacher, as an artist he really can’t carry the stick. He’s been put on a pedestal, which is a high one, but he doesn’t call the tune, sorry to say that.” In any event, there appears to be thawing in J@LC’s attitude toward music it doesn’t consider part of the jazz repretory, which is a good thing. [Check out the JazzTimes review of the Syndicate’s J@LC concert.]
Sony/Legacy Recordings plans to release that long-delayed Weather Report boxed set, entitled Forecast: Tomorrow, on September 16. As we described back in February 2005, this will primarily be a compilation of tracks from Weather Report’s 16 Columbia albums. Well, all except This Is This. Not the treasure trove of new material that die hard Weather Report fans would like to see.
Nevertheless, there will be a few unreleased items thrown in: An unissused version of “Directions” with Eric Gravatt from November 1971; a complete live version of “Eurydice”; a live recording of “Mysterious Traveller,” recorded in Chicago in December 1974, and a remix of “125th Street Congress.” (A complete track listing can be found at Sony/Legacy’s site.)
But the most interesting part of the set will be a DVD of Weather Report’s September 28, 1978 performance at Offenbach Stadthalle that was broadcast on Germany’s Rockplast television show. Grainy, nth-generation copies of this video have been in circulation among traders for years, but according to those who have seen it, the DVD included in Forecast: Tomorrow is pristine. That alone will make this set worthwhile to many fans.
The Zawinul/Friedrich Gulda album, Music For Two Pianos, which we talked about back in November 2005, was released on June 15 on the German Capriccio Klassic label. This CD documents Zawinul’s duo performances with Gulda in 1985, and provides a rare opportunity to hear Joe play acoustic piano extensively. So far as I know, there is no US distribution for this CD, but it can be obtained from various sources in the UK, including Presto Classical.
Also in the works is the Zawinul/WDR Big Band album of Weather Report tunes. The latest I hear is an October release.
Tone Center Records, a part of the Shrapnel Label Group has reissued Zawinul’s 1996 Grammy-nominated album My People album. It is in stores now. Also scheduled for July release is Zawinul’s 1998 live double-CD, World Tour, featuring one of the most potent Syndicate line-ups, including the incomparable Paco Sery on drums, Richard Bona and Victor Bailey on bass, Gary Poulson on guitar, and Manolo Badrena on percussion. According to CD Universe, World Tour is schedule for release on July 25.