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In A Silent Way: A Portrait Of Joe Zawinul

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by JimK, May 19, 2001.

  1. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Picked up two somewhat related books this week: the aforementioned Zawinul "bio" + a book that deals with Miles Davis' electric period/'67-'91. Anyway, I'm into the Zawinul book & there's some interesting, outspoken, & off-the-cuff commentary(no real surprise there, eh?).

    Here's a couple of nuggets-
    1)Greg Errico, known for his playing with Sly & The Family Stone, was once IN Weather Report. The time frame was post-Mysterious Traveller...this would've paired him up with Alphonso Johnson. Cool! Errico, though, DID NOT record anything during his stay.
    2)WR always had problems keeping both bassists & drummers, in particular, the latter. Looking at the list of players reads like a "Who's Who" of Jazz/Fusion...Alphonse Mouzon, Eric Gravatt, Errico, Darryl Brown, Chester Thompson, Alex Acuna, Narada Michael Walden, Steve Gadd, Tony Williams, Jeff Porcaro, Peter Erskine, Omar Hakim, etc. Zawinul doesn't pull any punches when he talks about what he didn't like in MOST of these guys' playing, either.
    At times, Zawinul wanted TWO drummers in the band 'cause the tunes were fast, intense, & long; apparently, a player's endurance chops were put to the test during the LIVE shows.
    3)"Birdland", according to Zawinul, was a bitch to cover LIVE...sez he hadda actually practice the tune 'cause of the ever shifting keyboard/synth patches & the different rhythms played by each hand. "Birdland" had a lotta studio overdubs...Zawinul didn't want any tune on a record that would outshine what the tune did in a LIVE setting. Therefore, his intense practicing to get it right...

    As expected, there's quite a few pages that talk about Jaco...Narada Michael Walden's words-
    "Jaco could marry both worlds(Funk & balladic playing). When I first jammed with Jaco in Miami, he could play in 7 & make it feel like 4. I played 4/4 & he played 7 in my 4, round & round, & round. I knew what it was, but you, as a listener, you really wouldn't know. That's how fluid he was. So he was perfect for Joe, because he could make stuff sound Fusiony & funky at the same time".

    I never realized how similiar the Jaco debut album cover was to an album titled Zawinul. Weird...
    You know The Jaco cover, check out the Zawinul cover...
  2. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Thanks, Jim. That sounds like one to pick up.
  3. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...well, this is the reason I don't initiate too many threads on my own-
    1)I make a typo/spellin' error in the title
    2)No hits!
    (I'm blaming the typo for confusing everybody) ;)

    Anyway, as a result of reading this book, I've gone back & re-visited Weather Report(especially the earlier releases).
    Some thoughts-
    Weather Report, the 1st album, is definitely out of the Bitches Brew vibe.
    (I have also noticed I don't have the I Sing The Body Electric album...damn!) ;)

    Tale Spinnin', with Ndugu Leon Chancler on drums...whew, he is bad! The story in this book goes like this-
    Ndugu was playin' with Santana(replaced original drummer Mike Shrieve)& was so bad, that Santana released one of their percussionists(this was a group that usually required 1 drummer + TWO percussionists). If you have Tale Spinn', check out the "Between The Thighs" & "Freezing Fire" & "Man In The Green shirt"...Ndugu is flailin'!
    (BTW, Zawinul couldn't convince Ndugu to leave Santana).
  4. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Ndugu played with George Duke during his "Bootsy wannabe" period. The albums were semi-diverse (Duke loved Brazilian music) but the big cuts were stuff like "Dukey Stick" and Reach For It" which had fake Bootsy vocals;). Wonder what Byron Miller's up to?

    Maybe you should call this thread "In A Silent Way: A Portrait Of Joe Zawinul: the guy who played with JACO!!"

    Ya think?;)
  5. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Uh...yeah. ;)

    I swear I've seen a Byron Miller solo cd sitting in one of our slack record stores(this was about 3-4 years ago?).
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I've got both these albums and while I listen to Tales Spinnin quite a lot, I find that "I Sing the Body Electric" is stangely unsatisfying and doesn't seem to make up its mind about what it wants to be - almost avant-garde or abstract at points, but with a great live track that pursues the funky thread through their music. Mysterious Traveller is the one album that is really satisfying to me, and the one I have listened to most over the years - I think it's Joe Zawinul's best work.

    I will definitely get the book when it comes out in the UK.
  7. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I go to the store to pick up M-Squared & the slackers don't have it; so, I pick up I Sing The Body Electric...finally, after 30 years(not that I would have bought this kinda record back in '72, you get the idea!). ;)
    Anyway, there's some heaviness happenin' on the 1st tune, "Unknown Soldier"...WOW! Starting at about 3:28 into the tune, Gravatt goes into a doubletimed swing with Vitous; Shorter enters & is BLOWIN'; Zawinul is soundin' like Cecil Taylor. Pretty happenin'...so far, I would agree with ya, Bruce, ISTBE is a little more esoteric than the later R&B/Funk/Fusion forays by Weather Report.

    A little more from the book-
    On Sweetnighter, Andrew White, an ELECTRIC bassist into Funk was employed(BTW, White was also a Jazz saxist & a Classical oboeist)...at this time, White had been playing bass behind The Fifth Dimension. During the recording of Sweetnighter, White was asked to join WR & declined 'cause "...they did not have the budget; they could not afford me. I was a Rock player & they were a jazz group, & there's no comparison. There's another set of books altogether...the economics between the two are totally different".
  8. kinda funny... I just got an e-mail about joining a Joe Zawinul yahoo e-mail group... from www.zawinulfans.org


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