Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b 7 July 1932, Vienna, Austria; d there 10 September 2007) Keyboards, composer. Turned on by Weiner lieder as a child, the translation 'Viennese Songs' missing the point: sung in taverns and music halls, this was commercial folk music long before Bob Dylan. Some of the songs had 'funny little curves' in them; at age seven he could not play them straight, and was encouraged by the first trumpet of the Vienna Philharmonic. He soon discovered jazz; His Majesty's Swinging Nephews by Joe Zawinul and the Austrian All Stars on RST compiles early tracks. To USA '59; accompanied Dinah Washington; joined Cannonball Adderley '61 and was a key member of that popular group, He wrote arrangements for the Adderley album with Nancy Wilson, wrote 'Mercy, Mercy, Mercy', Adderley's biggest hit and a Grammy winner, etc. Also recorded with Ben Webster (Soulmates on Riverside), many others. He began playing electronic keyboards and miscellaneous instruments; made albums with Miles Davis '69-70 (wrote the title track of In A Silent Way) and Bitches Brew; recorded a Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra with Friedrich Gulda on Preiser; founded Weather Report '71 with Wayne Shorter, which they co-led until '85, parting to pursue their own projects.
Zawinul's own LPs included Money In The Pocket and Rise And Fall Of The Third Stream on Atlantic (later on one CD); A Zawinul Trio CD is on Fresh Sound, Zawinul with Herbie Hancock on Rhino; Dialects '86 on Columbia was a solo disc, all synths with no overdubbing. In mid-'86 he formed a quintet with guitarist John Scofield and three Weather Report veterans; another group called the Zawinul Syndicate released Immigrants '89, Black Water '89 and Lost Tribes '92. He produced Salif Keïta's Amen '91. He succumbed to Ellingtonitis, persuaded to write a seven-part symphony Stories Of The Danube '96 on Philips, the result described by one critic as 'a hackneyed cross between ''Thus Spake Zarathustra'' and ersatz Aaron Copland'; but My People on Escapade '96 was a triumph, with artists from Mali (including Keïta), Turkey, Cameroon, Venezuela and Siberia backed by electronics and synths, Austrian band Broadlahn overdubbed with percussionist Trilok Gurtu: a rich musical stew with Zawinul in charge, the title a direct cop from Ellington, and a much better example of Ellington-like cookery. World Tour '98 (Escapade) caught his Syndicate live.