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Published: 2007/09/11

Joe Zawinul 1932-2007

Keyboard player Joe Zawinul passed away earlier today due to Merkel cell carcinoma. Zawinul was born in Vienna, where he studied classical music. He eventually moved to Boston, enrolling at the Berklee School of Music in 1959. There he migrated to jazz, appearing in Cannonball Adderlys band for much of the 60s. In addition, during the latter-half of the decade he began performing with Miles Davis, first on In A Silent Way (Zawinul wrote the title track) and then on Bitches Brew. and Live-Evil.
Zawinul is celebrated for his role in the creation of jazz-fusion, as in addition to the Davis recordings, in 1971 he formed Weather Report with fellow Davis alum Wayne Shorter. The two wrote most of the music over the groups career which featured the occasional turnover of players, including some renowned bassists: first Miroslav Vitous then Alphonso Johnson and later Jaco Pastorius. Weather Report continued to perform and record through the mid-80s, releasing its final recording, This Is This!, in 1985. From there the keyboard player formed the Zawinul Syndicate, continuing to write and record music while also revisiting his earlier compositions. The Zawinul Syndicate celebrated its 20th Anniversary with a European tour earlier this year.

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