387) Joe Zawinul — “The Soul of a Village, Pt. II”
Yes, as Larry says, this song is “a slice of groove perfection”. When he first heard the “laid back but funky drums, and the electric piano . . . and the spooky strings, [his] spidey sense started tingling[!]” (http://funky16corners.com/?p=828) Jim Todd says that “Zawinul . . . improvises in a soul-jazz vein on Fender Rhodes over the tamboura-like droning of a prepared piano.” (https://www.allmusic.com/album/the-rise-fall-of-the-third-stream-mw0000240833).
[The single version] is actually an edited version of ‘Soul of a Village Pt2’, having been preceded on the album by just over two minutes of prepared piano and strings droning in an approximation of an Indian raga. [It] has such a perfect, self-contained vibe that I’m torn as to whether you need to hear both parts. . . . [T]he really groovy thing is that the string section actually swings along with the drums. The tune was written . . . by saxophonist/arranger William Fischer, who as far as I can tell was first and foremost a classical composer/musician . . . . This is serious ‘head’ music, in that it both spins around the inside of the cranium for full, mystical effect, but also compels the head to nod with the rhythm. I wouldn’t go as far as to suggest that anyone not sufficiently intoxicated might get up to dance, but it’s not entirely out of the question. A truly unique and captivating record, and I hope you dig it.
Joe Zawinul, of course, was one of the founders of the jazz fusion supergroup Weather Report. He had immigrated to the United States from Austria “after winning a scholarship to Berklee, yet after just one week in class, he left to join Maynard Ferguson’s band.” (https://www.allmusic.com/artist/zawinul-mn0000176859) He then “made his mark in Cannonball Adderley’s band . . . compos[ing] ‘Mercy Mercy Mercy’ and ‘Country Preacher’ . . . .” (http://funky16corners.com/?p=828) Richard Ginell writes that while there:
[He] evolved from a hard bop pianist to a soul-jazz performer heavily steeped in the blues, and ultimately a jazz-rock explorer on the electric piano. Toward the end of his Adderley gig (1969-1970), he was right in the thick of the new jazz-rock scene, recording several pioneering records with Mike’s Davis.(https://www.allmusic.com/artist/zawinul-mn0000176859)
Ginell also notes that his “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.” Mikkel Vad sums up his legacy:
Joe Zawinul, perhaps more than any European musician, has become part of the American jazz canon. As such, he became a symbol of jazz as a transnational, yet American—and particularly African American—art form. Conrad Silvert summarized this anomaly in the opening to his 1978 Down Beat portrait article:
“Although a compelling argument can be made that jazz has become the world’s most international art form, suffering from few barriers of geography, language or race, it remains true that the great majority of jazz innovators have been American blacks. The exception to this rule has been the emergence of Josef Zawinul—a white man born in Austria—as one of jazz’s prime innovators.”https://cla.umn.edu/austrian/story/cas-stories-soul-austrian-pianist-and-composer-joe-zawinul
Here is the single version:
Here is the LP version:
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