The Zawinul Syndicate made a couple of appearances in the San Francisco Bay Area at the end of October and early November. I caught the band at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, and they were smoking as usual. The line-up was Zawinul, Linley Marthe on bass, Aziz Sahmaoui on percussion and vocals, Alegre Corréa on guitar, Jorge Bezerra on percussion, and Roger Biwandu on drums. Although Biwandu has performed with Joe before—notably the Zawinul/Bobby McFerrin concerts in 2004 (man, has it been that long?!)—he was a late addition to this tour. He told me that he got the music two days before the first show and rehearsed with Linley Marthe before joining the band for the Blues Alley gigs in Washington DC. By the time we heard him here in the Bay Area he was a grizzled veteran of the Syndicate.
The band sounded great. The last time they were here, Sabine Kabongo was with them. She has since had a child and didn’t travel to the US for this tour. But vocalist and percussionist Aziz Sahmaoui made up for her absence. Making his first US appearances with the Syndicate, Sahmaoui was featured on the Karim Ziad tune “Louange.”
As I’ve said before, the Zawinul Syndicate doesn’t make many appearances in the states these days, so if they get anywhere near your neck of the woods, you need to see them.