Jump to content

Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Anyone else off to see Joe Zawinul tomorrow?

Phil W

Recommended Posts

  • Replies 19
  • Created
  • Last Reply



Don't worry, a bass player I work with told me that he's going with a few friends - you won't be alone!! I've downloaded "Brown Street" after glowing reviews on this forum but haven't had a chance to listen to it yet - will do this tonight.





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wish the band would come to the States and better yet to the Midwest. :(


Zawinul Syndicate did play the states a number of months ago. I saw them perform in Massachusetts, last November. They'll probably be back soon. Check Joe's web site, he should have a touring schedule.

Kurzweil PC3, Yamaha MOX8, Alesis Ion, Kawai K3M
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just saw Zawinul at the Jazz cafe in London.... WOW. I have never ever seen a band with more groove, completely incredible. I have seen Zawinul play around 20 times over the last 20 years but this was the best ever.

It was such a shock being so close to the band - I have seen the syndicate quite a few times in large venues and there the subtlety of Joe's playing is completely lost. The Jazz cafe is just the best as you can be so close to the music its actually like being in the band, and I heard every note he played, and watched every movement of his fingers. We were so close that my girlfriend actually bumped her head on his T8 as she reached for her beer! Seeing Zawinul's mastery over the keyboards from such close proximity is an experience I shall never forget.

And the music....WOW. The groove was awesome. The old tunes sounded so fresh, like I was hearing them for the first time. Oldies from Night Passage played with such attitude and passion it defied belief, tunes such as Madagascar and a trio version of Fast City (although I was just a touch disappointed not to get to the synth solo - after a 10 minute Linley Martha bass solo the applause was so strong that it was just impossible for them to continue. That guy is unbelievable).

What impresses me most about Zawinul is his musical vision, which is completely revolutionary. He truly deserves to be regarded as a Charlie Parker or a John Coltrane, an Art Tatum or a Jimi Hendrix, one of the few musicians who change the nature of music forever.

Keep it up for many more years Joe!!! (and come back to the jazz cafe soon)



for those interested in tech stuff, the following...eye opening for me at least...


4 keyboards, none with weighted action

9 volume pedals, no sustain pedals

one monitor, and prophecy and T8 only had one output (couldnt see MI and nord3, or rack gear obviously), which suggests a mono rig

he never touched the modulation or pitch bend at all, apart from the piano sound (on the M1) which was never played without. he never had both hands on the same keyboard at the same time, except the solo piano piece.

all the single line stuff was played on the prophecy, often with 2 sounds (or 3 counting the vocoder) which he switched between with the volume pedals in between phrases.



a few utube links to get the idea...



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Beeboss, were you there Tuesday? I was there Tuesday and still in shock, check out the discussion on the Lowdown forum between a couple of us bass players that were at the gig. This Zawinul Syndicate line-up was amazing. Joe loooked so happy. We have used a lot of similar words to describe our experiences at the gig - check my posts linked to here.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some thoughts from the other forum:




Phil and I have just seen Zawinul in the Jazz Cafe in London. This is a really small venue. The band were scalding, boiling, bubbling and charging along. Oh my. The pace, the rhythm section. Oh my. The band were on a different plane. The sense of time and groove was just overwhelming. I'm lost for words ...


Oh my



Phil W:


I'm still a little lost for words, Davo. That was such an incredible gig. I'm glad we were both there as if it was just me people might take my postings as crazed ramblings (no change there then!).

Noticable how happy Joe Zawinul looked, who can blame him? I'm off to do some work now and I'll post more on this later.


Davo and I have seen some great gigs between us but this was the greatest musical experience I've had. It seriously flashed through my mind for seconds to just give up playing and I've never felt like that before. Seconds later that feeling was converted more to inspiration.


Mostly I just felt pure joy. That was amazing!


It seem almost sacriledge to talk about such ordinary concerns as gear and specific instruments (it was such a collective band) but here's some anyway. Linley Marthe played an oddly worn old jazz bass:


He played with an incredible capacity for maintaining intensity. A played a fair amount of unison parts with Joe Z but also solos, improvised groove parts and incredibly fast, even and intense 16th note parts. He made a lot of use a wah pedal.


Linley used Markbass gear. Overall the sound balance was amazing but occasionally he would sit back low in the mix underneath the waves of percussion and drums.


It was great to hear those Weather Report tunes. I said to Davo beforehand that Joe doesn't normally play the old Weather Report stuff but they featured a couple from the later Jaco era (I'll have to get Night Passage out to ID them - I struggle with the tune names from that period - Port of Entry and Fast City???). They also incorporated a big chunk of Gibraltar which was a huge highlight for me. Linley laid down a fast, bubbling, high register line that went on and on and on under the pentatonic riffs of that tune.




Trying to explain the experience. I barely noticed Zawinul. The band comprised of:



Percussion 1

Percussion 2 + vocals

Vocals (+occasional percussion)

Bass (Linley)


Keys (Joe)


You could listen to that rhythm section all night. The groove started in the first bar of each song and never ever faltered.


Such pace and such precision. I've been to few gigs in my time, indeed I saw Weather Report three times around 1978-80, but I have never witnessed anything like this.


Linley was great but that really isn't the point, it was the collective sound and pulse. No wonder the whole band seemed really happy.


Phil, I had the same thought about giving up and now I feel completely inspired.






Joe Zawinul keyboard/vocals/conductor/sorceror/orchestra leader

Sabine Kabongo - vocal/percussion/enchantress

Linley Marthe - bass/vocals/monster

Jorge Bezerra - percussion/vocals/juggling/entertainer

Alegre Correa -guitar/vocals/berimbau/Mr400%

Paco Sery - drums/thumb piano/vocals/enthusiasm/spiritual force

Aziz Sahmaoui percussions /vocals/living force



Yeah, it wasn't really about individuals, it was a collective performance. I just posted the stuff on Linley as I know bassists will want to hear that. I've heard a lot of Joe's solo material and have never heard anything as dramatic as that.


The variety of sound textures, the rhythmic precision, the depth of groove, the use of dynamics, the melodic interplay, the sonic textures, the sheer intensity of it all, the sheer spirituality of it all - wow!


On a few tunes, the band started from the first beat with the kind of intense groove that most great bands reach at the peak of their performances and then built from there.


I was impressed at the way Joe integrated his voice and the many voices into the fabric of the music. It's something he has been trying to do for years and seems to have finally achieved an integration of voice and music that is unique and incredibly powerful. Joe was very playful in his use of keyboard voices - was that a sample of Sabine's voice he was playing on the keyboard at some point. Did you see the ecstasy on the musicians' faces.


Having stressed how it was the communality of the peformance that created the intensity and beauty of the music (I can't find the words to express that yet. You've made a fair attempt, Davo) I'll write a little about the contributors at the risk of creating entirely the wrong impression. This was one gig that was not about individuals.

Joe had a kind of Duke Ellington role but obviously played a lot more than Duke did in his orchestra. It was like Duke's band or the Bitches Brew sessions but from an entirely different universe. Joe conducted events and brought voices in and out and cued the stunning unison riffs. I found his playing a lot more melodic and vital than I have heard for a long time. I loved the sound of his voice whether through the vocoder like device or simply speaking or singing. It was so cool to have been able to share hellos with him before the gig.


I saw Sabine with Zap Mama twice many years ago, she was always a talent but this is her element. Jorge from the favelas of Rio was so impressive. He is one of the greatest percussionists I have heard. I loved the visual colour that he also added with all his flowing decorations on his instruments and his juggling and visual tricks. His use of Santeria (or was it Candomble) really added to the atmosphere. The Samba duet with Jorge was a great contrast. That was a stunning tambourine solo!

Alegre looked manic as he fueled the intensity with those single note guitar patterns. A very intense guy. The rhythmic sensiblity of the input from the two Brazilians added a lot. When he let fly the single note runs and wailed over the ensemble it was like the release of a spirit. However, none of the solos (except maybe some percussion and bass solos) stood apart from the ensemble - there was more of the old Weather Report maxim - We never solo and we always solo.

Aziz had an incredible yoice and added yet another level of percussion. It was notable how up to 4 percussionists at a time complemented each other and guitar, bass and keyboards perfectly. Again the precision of the rhythm was so intense and sharp. You felt you could 'cut yourself' on the rhythm - indeed I heard a few 'ouches' from the crowd as Paco, Jorge or Linley rose briefly from the ensemble to throw down a sudden spectacular fill for a few seconds before subsuming themselves in the ensemble again.

Some of the polyrhythms were incredible. I keep using that word!

talking of polyrythms and incredulity we come to Mr Paco Sery from the Ivory Coast. My favourite drummer now without a doubt. Capable of playing so simply and implying complexity. He threw himself so fully into the music - even standing up to play some fills and with an expression of pure joy throughout. He played a simple kit and played wonderfully. I knew him from his many years in Sixun and with Salif Keita and others but this is his element. It made me want to be a drummer. His thumb piano duet with Joe's keyboards was phenomenal. I've never heard anyone play mbira like that.

The first gig I ever went to at the Jazz Cafe (opening night?) featured a thumb piano in a duet gig between saxophonist David Murray and percussionist Kahlil el Zabar so it brought back happy memories. Having said that, Paco played like the Paganini of the thumb piano.

If you get the chance to se this line up, take it. You will not regret it.

It was stunning!


Just spreading the love around!





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Phil W,


I was there on Wednesday (although if I had known it was going to be quite so amazing I would definitely have been there mon and tues as well!!).

You obviously enjoyed the gig as much as I did.


I also am quite in shock, and the experience has certainly made me re-evaluate what I regard as important in music (in a good way I think).



Link to comment
Share on other sites


I considered going back on Wednesday - although I am fairly broke and was totally satiated musically by Tuesday's show. They sounded similar - the two nights. It was just such a great band wasn't it. I haven't had the chance to look at and examine my pics yet - probably rubbish photos so don't hold out hope - and I was stood in front of the bassist so a bit far from Joe (all of 12 feet or so). Good to see someone else's experience here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds like it was a transcendental experience!

Im pissed I didnt make an effort ot get to London (Only 60 miles away)

I just love Sabine Kabongo - went to a voice workshop she did at WOMAD a while back.She used to be with Zap Mamma but has been touring with Joe for a few years now.


The jazz cafe is a good gig for getting up close to the band and with this kind of band you wouldnt notice the upstairs diners too much - especialy annoying if you are bootleging the gig!


God im Pissed!

I are an *******(CENSORED) too.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seems that reviews of Syndicate concerts got mixed with reviews of the Big Band tour... never mind:


What impresses me most about Zawinul is his musical vision, which is completely revolutionary. He truly deserves to be regarded as a Charlie Parker or a John Coltrane, an Art Tatum or a Jimi Hendrix, one of the few musicians who change the nature of music forever.

Keep it up for many more years Joe!!!


I subscribe entirely. :thu:

I make a point of attending Joe's concerts every time he shows in Rome (nearly every year), whatever the lineup.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wise policy!

Hope you get to see this line-up, marino.

I got the feeling that Joe was more willing to embrace the classic WR past than before - I wasn't expecting 3 classic WR tunes. It was a very communal experience with band and audience. Joe hung out in the bar beforehand and we got to exchange hellos.

It was a transcendental experience, definitely.

Yes, I've seen Sabine twice with Zap Mama. She was even more in her element in this band.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Joe Zawinul was here back in October and I missed it. :mad:


Glad to hear of your wonderful experiences in having a chance to see him perform live.


Through YouTube, it is great to see Joe still killing musically. His set-up does put GAS in perspective. No up-to-date ROMplers, DPs or clonewheels, yet, his playing still sounds fresh.


If/when Zawinul makes it back to the states, I am there. :cool:





"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...