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Joe Zawinul Italian Fansite
Interview with Joe Zawinul
by Marco Piretti
Rome, July 1st of 2001

Hi everyone!
Last 1st of July i had the great pleasure to interview again Mr. Joe Zawinul for our website. He was very friendly and i'm very happy to have had the possibility to talk with him in a such relaxed way.
I wish to tank Mrs. Gea Marotta of Emmeci Srl for her help, and also Fabio Di Biagio who collaborated with me in the realization of the interview.
Have a good reading!

Marco Piretti

Fabio, Gea and Marco

Interview to Joe Zawinul
Rome, July 1st of 2001

M: My first question is about your next CD. We all are waiting for it...

J: Yes, it's gonna be very interesting, i don't know, you have to listen to it because it's different music, i tried a few new things, and it's very complex music,very danceable, dance music but complicated.

M: Is it like something you already did?

J: Never did before. It's totally different...

M: And what musicians?

J: Different musicians, i'll have Etienne M'Bappe', Richard Bona, Paco Sery, Amit Chatterjee, and a lot of others..

M: Victor Bailey?

J: Maybe yes, Victor too... Different musicians...

M: We know that you recorded the sound of some typical italian percussions last year in Melpignano (Italy). Did you use it in this recording?

J: I don't know yet, because i recorded the tambourine players, i'm using one thing now, i'm using synthesizers, i recorded the female singers at Taranta festival and i made a melody and then i sampled it, it's very nice, you'll listen to it tonight for yourself...

M: Is it completely recorded in studio, or there are also some live recordings?

J: No, there is a couple of things we have already from Australia, we did a wonderful tour in Australia last November, and probably we'll use some recordings with Amit Chatterjee when he's singing, he's a fenomenal singer, he breaks your heart, great great voice, it's incredible! And also in one track, a part of one track, we'll have the incredible groove of Nathaniel Townsley and Manolo, it's gonna be a very nice record.

M: And when will it be released?

J: We hope... Because i moved again, i was living in New York for seven years, and now i moved back to Malibu, so now i'm building a beautiful studio, in the extra house, and it's finished. So i'm preparing it, i have many many new tunes.

M: So, isn't it completely recorded yet?

J: All the music is recorded but not the musicians, i recorded it by myself, a lot of things are improvised and it's fantastic, it's very very good. And it's very complicated. I had not the possibility to put together a band to record this complicated music. I improvised and i recorded, and then i did a little edit, and it's very good, different music.

M: So, we all are waiting for it!! About your biography, the Brian Glasser's book, what do you think about it?

J: I don't know, i never authorized it, i don't like the guy, i don't like him, but i read the book and it's written good, so no problems for me.

M: Yes, we had a wonderful chat session on our website with Victor Bailey and he told us that it's not your official biography...

J: Yes, it's not an official biography.

M: Is it realistic for you?

J: No, not always. But it's written well, it's written interesting, so you read and you wanna read more. And that's important.

M: And everything is true?

J: It's not true! A lot of things are not true, that's... When you have a biography he put together from interviews, with many people and also with me, only interviews with me, but when you work together to write a book it's completely different, i told him but i don't want to do it with him because i don't like him, and i don't like to write a book with somebody i don't like, but everybody can write a book about anybody, so there is nothing i can do about it, but what i can say is that it's written well.

M: About your new band with Maria Joao, Etienne M'Bappe'... You are taking a lot of musicians from this African-French background...

J: Not really, you know, to me the nationalities are not so important. When i heard Maria the first time, i liked her a lot and i said: we have to do something together one time or another.. M'Bappe' worked with me with Salif Keita on "Amen", he was the bassplayer and Paco was the drummer, and then i had him in the band for a longtime, at the time he was engaged with the French Radio Orchestra, so i said OK... And Richard Bona... And Victor...: Victor Bailey always would be in my band, and if Jaco wouldn't be dead, he always would be in my band, because when you have good musicians... Or Wayne and me, you know, we are the best friends, but maybe we'll never play together again, it's possible... What i like is the music, not if somebody comes from Africa or from French, that's not important.

M: And what do you like most of Maria Joao, of her singing?

J: She's an artist, she makes you feel something, she's a beautiful voice, she can really dance, she's a great intertainer, we played two days ago, in Porto, it was fantastic. So we'll do some concerts together, and maybe she will be also on my record, and we'll see... It's not so prepared, it's not necessary for me to prepare.

M: There are voices about this new Sony release of unedited Weather Report material, a lot of fans are waiting for it...

J: I know, well, what you should do, what the fans should do, is to put this on the Internet, that they want this record, because that record is ready, but CBS is taking time, so a lot of people is asking "Hey, what happens?".

M: So it's only a Sony thing?

J: Yes, because this record is ready, we have all the music mixed together, everything is mixed and it's fantastic. That's what it is.

M: A question about your keyboards, you're still using analog sounds...

J: Yes! I sample all my instruments at home, all natural, acoustic instruments. So when i play any sounds i play my flutes, i play soprano, i play Taragon, that is an hungarian soprano saxophone, it's a gipsy instrument, i play my kalimbas, tonight you are going to hear some of them, all natural sounds, not synthesized. Now i have a new sampler, it's incredible, with it i can do everything i want, i can sample my accordions, i have a collection of ten accordions you know... I did about 51 new sounds with all my acoustic instruments which i collect from Africa, from South America, from everywhere, you know...

M: Another very frequent question from your fans: do you think that you'll play again with Wayne Shorter?

J: I don't know, probably not, because we're different now, you know... His music is very different than mine, his work is fantastic but he's very serious now... I'm not serious, i just like life...

Joe Zawinul, 2001
Photo by: Marco Redaelli

M: In his book Brian Glasser, if i remember correctly, writes that Wayne wants to play again with you and you not...

J: I wanna play with him too, but i what i want to play is not that we would play... Yes, i wanna play with him, anytime! Because he's my favourite, of all the musicians i played with, he's my favourite of anytime, you can write it, but i can't tell you that i will play again with him if i don't know. If we will, it would be a pleasure.

M: You're still friends?

J: The best! He just wrote me a long letter, and i wrote him back, tomorrow i will be in Israel to play and he also will be in Israel, but in another town.

M: Last year i was in L'Aquila to see the Special Project and i talked a lot with Lelo Nika. What do you think about your experience with him and with the Special Project?

J: It was a great great pleasure for me, and i think that he's the greatest living accordion player, because his music is not improvised music, it's like when i play with Frederich Gulda, you know, we play Brahms, we play Mozart or whatever; it's the same with gipsy music, gipsy music is not improvised.

M: About gipsy musicians, do you know that Bireli Lagrene dedicated a song to you in his last CD?

J: Really? I didn't know.

M: Yes, it's a song called "Josef". But do you know Bireli?

J: Yes!

M: And what do you think of him?

J: I think that he's a greatmusician, bass player too, have you heard him playing bass? It's fantastic. Do you know why they called him Bireli? Because he was baptised with beer! (Laughters).

M: I read that he know nothing about music...

J: He knows a lot about music, yes, he knows nothing about written music. But you know, you can't be able to read, but you still can speak! There are a lot of people that are not able to read, but they can speak, and very intellectually! It's not the most important thing, he's very intelligent, and he speaks many languages!

M: Another question: Sony is releasing again the complete Bitches Brew sessions, what do you think of the importance of this record for the history of music? We all think that it's very important.

J: Yes, i think so. It's a good record i think... Have you heard "Directions"? We're gonna play it tonight, we never played it with Weather Report, only at the very beginning, but Miles played it for many many years, i remember that he called me at 4 or 5 o'clock in the morning and he said: 'check this out!' and he played for me Directions at telephone, he said 'For me, it's like religion'. We'll play it tonight, we only had one concert, so we play a couple of new things and... Everything will be OK!

M: About Weather Report, we have a curiosity: you were playing the beginning of the song Birdland already in 1976 as the introduction of "Doctor Honoris Causa"...

J: No...

M: Yes!

J: I did? Are you sure?

M: Yes!! So you were already thinking to it?

J: Yes, it's possible, maybe i liked it and i used it for Birdland, it's possible because i was improvising when i composed Birdland. So, it could be... But i recorded Birdland in 1977.

M: We know! Many thanks.


Marco with Joe Zawinul after the interview


Many thanks to:
Gea Marotta (Emmeci Srl)
Peter Basler
Fabio Di Biagio

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