Tuesday, September 11, 2007



We lost Joe Zawinul. That means 1/2 of the classic Weather Report lineup is gone. I never heard Joe play live, but I was in the room one night when Jaco came into Jack's on Mass Ave in Central Square Cambridge, and sat in with James Montgomery's blues band. For about 3 choruses, it was the absolute most hellacious shuffle you ever heard, and then it went away again. Jaco died on the street, beaten to death by a bouncer he'd confronted in the midst of a schizophrenic episode, about four months later.

Joe was tougher and more focused than that. He took a lot of abuse for his fusion, but he never turned a hair (not that he had much to spare). He was a tough old bastard: tough enough to hold the band together through Wayne's spaciness and Jaco's insanity, and to recognize the heartbreaking beauty they were capable of creating together. And he wrote one of the great hard bop anthems ever, Mercy Mercy Mercy, for Cannonball Adderley.

Goddammit. With all the horror associated with this anniversary, it would be nice not to have lost Joe too. Thank the Universe for the bedrock sanity of his music, I guess.

Gruss Gott, Joe.


Roger Landes said...

I saw this same line-up at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City in '77 or '78. What an incredible show. Al Screameola opened for them. If I'd been him I'd've taken the night off!

CJS said...

Yep. It's a shame how often we recognize greatness *afterward*.