My People

COMPOSERS: Joe Zawinul
LABELS: Escapade Music
ALBUM TITLE: Joe Zawinul
PERFORMER: Joe Zawinul (kybds, v); Paco Sery (d); Matthew Garrison (b); Gary Poulson (g); Arto Tuncboyaciyan (perc)
CATALOGUE NO: ESC 03651-2 (distr. New Note)

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One of a handful of Europeans to make an impression on the febrile jazz scene of New York in the Fifties, Vienna-born pianist/keyboardist Joe Zawinul has constantly and successfully reinvented himself since then. He spent the Sixties with altoist Cannonball Adderley, adding ‘Mercy, Mercy, Mercy’ to the standards book; he was present at the birth of fusion alongside Miles Davis, writing the definitive ‘In a Silent Way’ and went on to co-lead Weather Report, arguably the most popular group in the history of jazz.

Today at 64 he is both the leader of a fashionable dance band which features a Tibetan throat singer and, separately, the composer of a seven-part symphonic work which celebrates the River Danube. On the first count, My People brings together all that is special about Zawinul: an ear for sweet melody, a musical gene pool which produces strains of folk, and a mischievous sense of invention at the synth.

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With its multi-racial guest list, My People could almost qualify as a world music sampler. But, enriched and charged by the Zawinul keyboard, this oddball collection takes on an ethnicity all its own. And it is that rare breed: music for the head and the feet. GB