World Jazz Keyboard Wizardry

Joe Zawinul -  Brown Street
Joe Zawinul – Brown Street
Joe Zawinul

Brown Street  (Heads Up/Intuition, 2007)

This double live captures the keyboard wizardry of Joe Zawinul, one of the most important and influential jazz keyboardists in recent history. Zawinul led seminal jazz fusion band Weather Report for many years. His work as a keyboardist is truly remarkable. He has experimented with synthesizers and samplers for years to create new hybrid sounds that don’t sound dated. Zawinul has also worked with international musicians in his recordings and live performances and he also used samples of numerous instruments to add a world music element to his cutting edge jazz style.

Most of the music on Brown Street  are Weather Report classics, performed by Zawinul and his band, accompanied by the German WDR Big Band. Zawinul’s work at the keyboards is a true delight, with mind-blowing solos and subtle harmonies. 

Even though most of the music falls under the category of jazz fusion, Zawinul also performs pieces with a strong world music component, using his outstanding sampled sounds. He is a true master of contemporary jazz.

Buy Brown Street.


Thanks to ARomero for the article on Josef Zawinul. Didn’t know about this recording, but it was just good to hear that he’s got something new.

The music of Weather Report, of which Zawinul was really the main composer, still stands head and shoulders above all the rest of the 70’s-80’s fusion, with their incredible creativity and original sounds. For most of their 15 or so years and albums, each new one was a surprise, required another new set of ears to get and be amazed by.

If I had to pick one Weather Report album, I wouldn’t have to pick just one. But that was the best offer, it’d have to be Mysterious Traveller, which was pre-Jaco, with the departing Miroslav Vitous on half the tracks and the incoming Alphonso Johnson on the balance. The artful, powerful drive of title tune, the drama of Scarlett Woman, the amazingly wide palette of the entire album as a work.

But I hope I could pick a few, because it’s as if some are from entirely different bands:
The first album named Weather Report is unique, with the sound of the Fender Rhodes piano defining a very light, dancing, bittersweet song overall.

Heavy Weather, of course, is a classic, and Jaco Pastorius is huge. I Sing the Body Electric , Mr. Gone, the *2nd* album named Weather Report, Procession … There are just too many.

(As a measure of how into them I am, this was all written in one big outbreath.)

– Bill Ross
"The Warblehead Union", world jazz fusion