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My People

Joe Zawinul

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Album Review

If one must indulge in categories, My People, featuring the Zawinul Syndicate and a United Nations coterie of guests, probably belongs on the vast world music shelf, the links to so-called jazz now so tenuous as to be nearly, but not quite, invisible. On the percolating "Slivovitz Trail," "Orient Express," "Many Churches," and the Caribbean-tinged cleverly titled "In an Island Way," the music does suggest earlier versions of the Syndicate, and Joe Zawinul's nostalgic evocations of Wayne Shorter on the Korg Pepe reach back even further. Otherwise, Zawinul is looking entirely toward ethnic cultures for musical sustenance. The musical structures are linear, the rhythms full of intricacies welded to Zawinul's love affair with the groove, the synthesizer textures usually sparer than ever. There are vocals in several languages by Zawinul's longtime colleague Salif Keita (for whom Zawinul produced a great album in 1991), Syndicate percussionist Arto Tuncboyaciyan, a throat vocal specialist from South Siberia named Bolot, Thania Sanchez, Zawinul himself, and several others. When translated, the lyrics speak of joy and unity among the cultures, and there isn't any doubt that Zawinul's bubbling music feeds the message of uplift. Hear it; you purists may be jiggling along in spite of yourselves. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi

Biography

Born: 07 July 1932 in Vienna, Austria

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Joe Zawinul belonged in a category unto himself — a European from the heartland of the classical music tradition (Vienna) who learned to swing as freely as any American jazzer, and whose appetite for growth and change remained insatiable. Zawinul's curiosity and openness to all kinds of sounds made him one of the driving forces behind the electronic jazz-rock revolution of the late '60s and '70s — and later, he would be almost alone in exploring fusions between jazz-rock and ethnic music...
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My People, Joe Zawinul
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