The Zawinul Syndicate in Europe

The Zawinul Syndicate is in the midst of its month-long Spring tour, and we have some reports from Zawinul Online readers.

Mike Sheppard writes:

I just got back from seeing the band at the Jazz Café London on their third night. I saw the Syndicate there two nights in a row in the summer of 1991. Back then they went on into the early hours, after which I spent ages traveling across London on the night bus. Nowadays they finish at 11 p.m. while the tube is still running. You need to book a table and food in order to sit. My friend and I found the food was good and the view was good, although the PA obscured Aziz.

Most important, the band was cooking from the start. Joe’s bands are like a cauldron of eternal gumbo to which fresh ingredients are added every night. I respect any musician who gets to play with Joe, but the return of Paco Sery always brings a special spice to the mix. Linley Marthe was equally stunning. I’m not qualified to say if he’s playing even better than three years ago when the Syndicate last visited, but he demonstrated phenomenal chops on his solo, where he really let loose. The level of interaction between the entire band was sensational. Aziz Sahmaoui, Alegre Corréa and Jorge Bezerra each brought their own vigour to the music, so that I never missed their illustrious predecessors. Sabine Kabongo has made her own place in the music. Her solo feature on “Can It Be Done” was a great tribute to Joe’s eternal quest for new sounds and killer grooves.

As has been said before, catch this band if you can. Travel far if necessary, for inspiration is guaranteed.

Dick Koster caught the band in Holland:

Zawinul has just left de Boerderij, Zoetermeer, Holland. Again, great respect for the master and his fine group of international group musicians. They are the best. The East 12th street band came to kick some? Can it be done? Yes. With the World Tour 97 sound of Paco Sery on drums, combined with the 2007 “smilin'” Brazilian flavour of Jorge Bezerra, Jr. and the Marrakesh influence of Aziz Sahmaoui singing soundscapes, the band gave a surprisingly fresh and dynamic performance, illustrated with songs like “Zansa II” (bright and shiny), and “Indiscretions” with “Black Market” interacting and “Two Lines.”

After the break, the band was even more powerful. Evolving with “Café Andalusia,” “Fast City,” a modest “Can It Be Done” (sung soulfully by Sabine, backed by the most beautiful keyboard sounds of an appreciative Zawinul), “Badia/Boogie Woogie,” “Tower of Silence” and the finale: “Rooftops of Vienna.” Party!

Marked something unusual during this show? Maybe. At the end Zawinul introduced the band members but forgot to mention Aziz. It was very sweet to see the way Jorge tried to attend Joe–again back behind his keyboards–about this small non conformity. But no niggling!

A great show. A great band. A fantastic audience. Dear Joe, Aziz, Paco, Jorge, Lynley (making fun and comfort of his great skills, and probably never gets tired?), Sabine and Alegre: THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

Finally, Nick Bloomfield wrote a short note after seeing the Syndicate’s first London show:

I’d like to pass on some thanks to Joe and his crew. I went to the first performance at the Jazz Café in London on Monday last. I had the most brilliant time, sat right in front of Joe’s keyboard stack!

Afterwards, a lady from Joe’s team arranged for me to meet Joe, who signed my Brown Street CD–fantastic! If you could pass on my grateful thanks I’d appreciate it. It was an evening of great memories for me. (By the way, the band bought the house down–of course!)

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