In memory of Joe Zawinul

by A. Autino




September 11th 2007, 75 year-old, Joe Zawinul is dead. Joe is one of the musicians which gave the greatest contribute to the musical innovation, in the second halves of last century and in the first years of the new millennium. He was ill by a cancer, and he was in hospital since August 5th.


Together with Wayne Shorter (sax) and Jaco Pastorius (bass) -- another great innovator unfortunately prematurely disappeared -- Joe has been the soul of the Weather Report, a group that transformed the fusion into a true musical kind, greatly worth of reintroducing the melodic invention and the most modern rhythmicses (rock derivated) into jazz, after the relative rhythmic-harmonic mannerism and the improvisation mainly based on patterns, of the late-bebop period.

Joe Zawinul, whose origins are Gypsy, Hungarian, Czech and Rom, never rested from seeking melodic-rhythmic sprouts in the traditional music of his origin, and more at East, in the regions of Caucaso, Pakistan, India. One of the most prolific and intense collaborations of his last season has been with Trilock Gurtu, a pakistan percussionist. Of the Zawinul-Gurtu duo we conserve some splendid video-recordings from the Umbria-Jazz festival.


To have an idea of the great and continuous innovative push by Joe Zawinul, we should remember that Joe wanted an artisan to build an inverse keyboard, with the lower keys at right side and the high ones at left. He had, in fact, a true obsession for the continuous search of original musical phrases. He knew very well that all the jazz musicians end with repeating some favorite phrases, and such habit ends mortifying the inventiveness of the improvisation. Playing an inverse keyboard created therefore that quantum of difficulty, able to force him to invent new musical paths.

Great Joe…. I will remember you with your moustaches and your characteristic cap of motley wool, while singing in the synthesizer, together with your magic keyboards.

We will bring Your music everywhere. Certainly it is a music good for this century, and we can listen to it and even to play it in our new houses on the Moon. And perhaps some asteroids-miner will have it in his headphones, one day, while he will be maneuvering his driller.

[022.AA.TDF.2007 - 23.12.2007]