Joe Zawinul – A Musical Portrait (BBC Documentary)

Josef ‘Joe’ Erich Zawinul was one of the most fantastic jazzmen of all times. Pioneering the crossover genre of jazz fusion during the late 1960s and early 1970s, Joe Zawinul became renowned for working with the best and most talented and technical jazz musicians ever, including, most notably, Miles Davis or Cannonball Adderley.

Joe Zawinul performing live in his later years. Image source:

During the early 1970s, Joe Zawinul co-founded the legendary American jazz fusion band Weather Report along with fantastic saxophonist Wayne Shorter with whom he performed under this musical moniker for 16 years up until 1986.

After 1986, when Weather Report came to an end, Zawinul temporarily split ways with Shorter in order to focus more on other projects of his own. One of such new musical projects of his was the main continuator of Weather Report, more specifically The Zawinul Syndicate. Prior to The Zawinul Syndicate, Joe continued the tremendous musical legacy of Weather Report with a very short-lived continuator, namely Weather Report, which only performed in 1986. The line-up of Weather Update included several other musicians with whom Joe Zawinul had performed in the passing of time in Weather Report, such as bassist Victor Bailey or drummer Peter Erskine, but not Wayne Shorter.

After Weather Update came to an end, which can be regarded as a transitional musical period in Joe’s career, Joe continue his musical path with his syndicate, which behaved more like a musical family. Consequently, he continued performing with The Zawinul Syndicate from 1988 up until 2007, the year in which he had passed away in his native Vienna, Austria.

The following BBC documentary on the amazing life and career of Joe Zawinul was produced by Mark Kidel and published in 2005, two years before Joe’s passing. It focuses on Joe’s fantastic musical life, from his childhood in Austria to his later years performing with the Syndicate in the United States. Enjoy and all the best!

Documentation sources and external links:

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