Poole Arts Centre
8 May 2004
Not so much a review as originally a post on “The Band” Guestbook
I saw the Zawinul Syndicate last night. I went in feeling really exhausted and came out feeling completely energised by the music, which has such a strong good vibe. Joe Zawinul is 72 years young, and is the one of the two greatest synth players of our time- Garth Hudson being the other. The music defies categories, though it’s nearer world music than jazz. It deserves a section of its own in stores, the only other album I can think of that fits in the section is ‘The Sea to the North’ by Garth Hudson. Zawinul has a young bass player from Mauritius, Linley Marthe, who is of Jaco Pastorious standard – there is no greater praise for a bass player.
Thinking of Joe Zawinul’s career, he was Cannonball Adderley’s keyboard player, and wrote Mercy, Mercy, Mercy. He led Weather Report with Wayne Shorter. Because he comes from the jazz field, Zawinul is free of the constraints that a rock band has – for example, he didn’t play (and nobody called for) Birdland or Mercy, Mercy, Mercy. Not that I’d have objected.
The sounds he pulls from the synths are extraordinary – he has human voices programmed in there. He also pulled out what sounded like a sax solo, and an accordion solo at various times. The vocalists are Sabine Kabongo and Amid Chattergee (also on guitar). The interchange number is Café Andalucia where Kabongo sings, Zawinul makes an instant sample of her voice, and plays back voice samples on his keyboard.