Joe Zawinul & the Zawinul Syndicate – 75 – Last Birthday Live!
(Submitted by Walter Kolosky but written by Mark Anderson).
On the live DVD of Zawinul’s phenomenal Syndicate, filmed shortly before his passing, Josef is still a big man. But he doesn’t look well and shuffles on and squints at his notes before putting on his glasses. Three quarters of a century would show on anyone.
As soon as the music starts and the band starts to feel it’s way into the set with a Moroccan sounding groovy jam, Zawinul transforms into the maestro he truly is and leads his band through a mighty set of WR classics, Afro-beat grooves and Syndicate favourites. Sometimes the tunes are segued and at other times they just simply weave in and out of each other like some beautiful and terrible dance.
Zawinul controls his band like a vast musical instrument. They are tight baby. The music encompasses all of his tremendous history; classical, jazz, world (in this case Eastern European, and especially Africa) and funk. Those sounds are hooked-up with his latest tendencies towards a ‘dance’ vibe to captivate another generation in their musical perspective. His is a vast mix of digital technology and tribal groove.
The band is absolutely stunning. You will hear Moroccon-like vocals, percussion and guitar from Brazil and African drum and bass. Add to that the voodoo doll Sabine Kabongo (from Zap Mama) and you have almost every major world-stylistic as a possibility. Paco Sery is the beatmeister and Linley Marthe, dare I say, is everything Jaco would have wanted to hear in his place.
My only question is why Zawinul persists on having a guitar in his bands? (A nod to the African tradition of using it primarily as a percussion instrument?) Certainly he couldn’t really have had another sax player after Shorter. Check out the timeless duo with him, recorded a few weeks later which is included here as an addition to the festival concert footage.
Miles went to Spain and Africa to get his sound. When Zawinul says ‘World Fusion’, you better believe it my friend. But Africa in particular is written large on this performance.
It’s beautifully shot, mobile multi-lens from stage perspective, intermixed with shots from an aerial camera which swings across and over the audience and down on to stage with captivating results.
The sound is also excellent. I listened back through my Mac Pro and my trusty DT100s , as well as the old B&W110’s, and it sure sounded fine to me. – Mark Anderson
1. Introduction To Orient Express
2. Orient Express
4. Scarlet Woman
5. Zansa 2
6. Cafe Andalusia
1. Fast City – Two Lines
3. Badia – Boogie Woogie Waltz
4. Happy Birthday
5. In A Silent Way (W / Wayne Shorter)
Personnel: Joe Zawinul (keyboards); Linley Marthe (bass); Alegre Correa (vocals/guitar); Aziz Sahmaoui (percussion, vocals); Paco Sery (drums, kalimba); Jorge Bezera (percussion); Wayne Shorter (sax).