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The Zawinul Syndicate Live in San Francisco
May 6th and 7th, 2000
Concert Review by Andy Forward

The Zawinul Syndicate in San Francisco


Curt Bianchi already has reviews on his site at: of the Zawinul Syndicate's Weekend shows in San Francisco ( May 6th and 7th ) ( I contributed the review of the Sunday matinee). But in the interest in transatlantic goodwill between Zawinul websites I wanted to make a different contribution for Mario's site, so here it is:

In the San Francisco Bay Area we are blessed with the best jazz club in the world. Joe Zawinul said so in 1997 the first time he played there and again in1998 and 1999 and he should know, he's played in most of the venues in the world. It's called Yoshi's and unfortunately he wasn't playing there this time round but in the auditorium of the Palace of Fine arts in San Francisco.A venue not known for being a music venue. The sound was OK but not great and it took a while for even the highly capable soundman, Ivan Zawinul, to get the sound right. On top of that, the lack of any new material made it a less exciting experience than previous Zawinul Syndicate shows I had been to.

However, I will always go to a Zawinul show just to listen to his unique playing. Age doesn't seem to be slowing down his technique or his joy of playing. You would often see a mischievous look in his eyes as he had just thrown a new change at his fellow band members. His love of sports shows in the way he seems to treat each show as a game. As he said himself, "I'm nearly 70 and I'm having a good time" and it shows. His band members seem to be having a good time too (when the sound was right anyway). A couple of highlights that prove this point were Amit Chatterjee playing a sitar solo via his Roland Guitar synth and Richard Bona joining the band on stage to pluck the strings of Victor Bailey's bass while Victor fretted with his left for the final minute of Carnavalito.

Even with the new drummer and guitarist the Zawinul Syndicate is still the tightest band around and the audience loves that. Nathaniel Townsley was making his second and third appearances with the band and I would never have guessed. If he made any mistakes I didn't notice. I'm not great on guitar styles but Amit Chatterjee has that Alan Holdsworth fluidity which I love, so It will be interesting to see how he develops in the band.

So if they are coming within 500 miles of where you live, make sure you go and see them.

Here's the track listing as I perceived it:

Lost Tribes
Two Lines
Zawinul Badrena Duet
Asi Trabajamos (Manolo Solo)
Intro to Gypsy (Amit's Duet with JZ) (from Tales of the Danube)
Do You Know Who He Was( Victor's Solo)
Three Postcards

The Sunday Matinee show was shorter and stopped at Bimoya.

Andy Forward




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