Zawinul was a global artist heavyweight. He worked with some of the best musicians the world has ever seen and of all the musicians out there, he has always inspired me most. For example, Zawinul worked with Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis, Chick Corea, and in 1970 he joined forces with Wayne Shorter and co-founded the extraordinary jazz group Weather Report.
In 1973, Weather Report released the album “Sweetnighter” and I was introduced to this album a few years later by my father. I fell in love with the album and Joe Zawinul and I have been listening to his music ever since. My absolute favorite song of all time from any genre or generation of music is “Boogie Woogie Waltz” by Weather Report.
Zawinul is a master jazz keyboardist and I have been dancing to his music since I was a baby. I always wondered if I would be able to see him perform his genius live and in person. Then on Saturday, September 3, 2005 it happened. I decided to attend the Detroit International Jazz fest that year and I went to Hart Plaza in Detroit on that day. I had no idea that the evening performance was going to be one of my musical heroes until I read the schedule for the evening. It was a warm, soulful Saturday night and a full circle moment for me. I was with the one person that introduced me to Zawinul’s music when I was a child, my father. It was such a great experience to see Zawinul perform with the Zawinul Syndicate, his global jazz band. I danced all evening just a few rows from Zawinul and it was one of the best concerts I have ever attended. My sister and uncle were also with us that evening.
Zawinul is my inspiration today because he not only mastered his craft as a musician and composer he also had a deep appreciation for world cultures. He worked with musicians from around the world and he is one of the many people that inspired my love for world music. His music taught me to seek out the unknown and to nurture my adventurous spirit. He took jazz music to unprecedented levels by doing the same and I will always appreciate him for his courage.
Take a listen to my favorite song of all time “Boogie Woogie Waltz” and let me know what you think. I hope Joe Zawinul inspires you today as much as he has inspired me.