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COMPOSERS: Joe Zawinul
LABELS: Intuition
WORKS: Absolute Zawinul
PERFORMER: Joe Zawinul (keyboard); Absolute Ensemble/Kristjan Järvi,


 This is the last studio project that jazz fusion legend Joe Zawinul completed just days before his death in September 2007. And it’s been worth the wait. You might think conductor Kristjan Järvi, then based in Vienna, more likely to appear in a classical review, but his persistence in getting Vienna-based Zawinul to collaborate with his genre-defying Absolute Ensemble proves a treat for jazz and classical fans alike.


Järvi, a champion of diverse performance styles, was so impressed with the way Zawinul, a classically trained musician, made classical music ‘groove’ that he wanted to experience this himself. And with the help of New York arranger Gene Pritsker – who over two years orchestrated Zawinul’s intricate compositions – they produced a performance that lives up to the exacting standards of Zawinul. And what a send-off this makes, as it plays out with an uplifting blast of Weather Report’s ‘Ice-Pick Willy’. Neil McKim