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Joe Zawinul Italian Fansite
Interview with Joe Zawinul
by Marco Piretti
Porto S.Elpidio, July 5, 2004

Once again I had the opportunity of briefly interviewing Joe before his concert in Porto S.Elpidio, last 5th of July.
I have found a very on form man, very happy of his music, his life and his current band.
My impression was confirmed from the concert: the current Zawinul Syndicate is a wonderful band, one of the best I have ever seen.
They played tunes from the last Zawinul album, "Faces & Places" (Cafe Andalusia, All About Simon, etc.), some Weather Report tunes (Blue Sound, Fast City, Two Lines) and one tune from Salif Keita "Amen" album.

We thank so much Gea Marotta for her help in this interview, everything we do is her deserve!


About your current band, you have a new percussionist, can you tell me something more about him?

Yes, he is Jorge Bezerra, I just met him in France, because he playes in a group that is called Saint Germain, that is very popular in France, so I heard about him and I think that he’s great, a very good percussionist.

And what happened to Manolo (Badrena) ?

I don’t know, he’s not in the band now.

For what reason?

It’s only that we wanted to change, no problem. Manolo is great, but I wanted to check out other people too. I’ve just opened a jazz club in Wien, so I was looking for musicians for putting together a group, and this club is fantastic.

You also included Sabine Kabongo as a stable member of your group…

Yes, for me she’s the greatest in the World. She has so much talent, she can do anything, a wonderful singer and a wonderful entertainer. I have a great band, Nathaniel Townsley is back, we have Linley Marthe, we have Amit Chatterjee, it’s a fantastic group.

You was talking about the jazz club you opened in Wien, can you tell me more about it, about the idea…

Yes, what we wanted to do is that: we played for so many years in thousands of clubs, and from all these experiences, positives and negatives, I put a concept together, that a club first should be comfortable for the musicians, where a band can stand and the audience can hear a group in the correct way. And all that we have accomplished is the best sound system in the World. It’s a small club, but it costed more that 1 million dollars, so you can imagine what it is…

We have lost Carl Anderson recently, can you tell me something about him and about his contributions to Weather Report music?

Carl was a great singer, and when he had the right material he was an enormous talent. And I think he was set up to sing the right material, “Can it be done” was a perfect performance.

About the “Live and Unreleased” Weather Report album, we have heard this unissued Wayne Shorter composition, “Cigano”, do you remember something particular about it?

No, you know, it is so much time ago…

Do you think that there is still something to discover about Weather Report? Because this new CD is a so wonderful CD…

There is always something to discover, because Weather Report was one of the greatest groups of all times, and there were so many surprises, I haven’t heard it, but we mixed it, me and my son Ivan, and… it is one of the best bands of ever.

In this CD we find always a wonderful band, in all its incarnations, also the one with Alphonso Johnson…

Yes, it was great, a very good band, in may ways it was my favourite.

A lot of people think that “Tale Spinnin’” was one of the best WR albums from the point of view of the compositions…

Tale Spinnin is fantastic, but you know, all Weather Report album were so different one from the others, and you don’t have to make this mistake to compare, to compare… they were all different.

Two years ago I have see you in my town, Pescara. Wayne Shorter’s band was playing before your concert, and you were listening to his music. What were you thinking about?

For me Wayne Shorter is one of the greatest musicians of all times, and whenever he plays I always listen, he had a wonderful group and… you know, there is only one Wayne Shorter. 

In “Faces & Places” you introduced the saxophone in some tracks, for example in “Good Day”, with a very different role from what it had in Weather Report…

Oh yes, it was only rhythm, not played parts…

Do you think that you could find a space for Wayne Shorter saxophone in the current Zawinul Syndicate?

No, because there is only one Wayne Shorter, and there is no space for that. You know, record is one thing, but live music is another…

I was listening recently the Salif Keita “Amen” album…

Yes, it’s incredible, but let me get a beer, do you want one?

Oh yes, thank you. Do you think that it’s been an important experience for you?

Yes, very important.

And do you think that your music is changed after this experience?

Not so much. It’s been a great experience, and it’s one of the masters, and I think that we did a very good job arranging this music. It was very easy and pleasant to me. We’ll play something from this album tonight.

What do you think about the general music scenario in this moment? Because there is a so small space for non commercial music…

I don’t know…

A lot of great musicians is not so known for the big public. For example, for me is incredible that a lot of people don’t know Jaco Pastorius…

Jaco is very known. All the musicians in the World know Jaco Pastorius, and there are a lot of musicians in the World. He’s the best, nodoby can play what Jaco played.

We talk very often with Ingrid Pastorius via the Internet, we set up chat sessions…

Oh yeah? Please give her my best.

One time she told me that a small time before he died you talked about play together again, what do you remember about it?

Yes, we talked about it, but we wanted to put all together, that everything was good, that he was healthy and so on. But we didn’t do it.

Are you planning other new recordings?

Oh yeah, many. But we have problems with the record company, not the ESC, but the parent company, EFA, broke down, but ESC is healty, and now we are producing a DVD that has been done on my birthday that is excellent. With Paco Sery, Etienne M’Bappè, and a big band playing some of my tunes of the Weather Report era, with Peter Erskine and Alex Acuna, and Victor Bailey, and Scott Kinsey, it’s a very good band and all the product is very good.

And when do you think that it will be released?

Very soon, maybe in a couple of weeks, tomorrow is a very importand day for it, we could decide when to publish it.

Many thanks.

(Click on the photos to enlarge)

The stage (Villa Baruchello)
Joe Zawinul's setup
Linley Marthe's "Jaco-style" Fender bass
Nathaniel Townsley's drums
The main mixer. Ivan Zawinul in the background.
The band during the concert (1)
The band during the concert (2)
A (very) small video taken during the sound check. Sabine Kabongo is sitting in front of me



Many thanks to:
Gea Marotta (Emmeci Srl)

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