Crate Digging With Christian McBride: Joe Zawinul And 50 Years Of Weather Report

Nov 25, 2020

Like some fellow Austrians before him, Mozart, Haydn and Mahler, keyboardist Joe Zawinul deserves a place in the upper echelon of composers. Exhibit A for his inclusion would be the soul ballad "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," a piece Zawinul wrote in 1966 for Cannonball Adderley. But that was only the beginning.

Harnessing the power of synthesizers and global grooves, Zawinul led jazz through successive waves of fusion: with Miles Davis on the groundbreaking 1969 album In a Silent Way; in Weather Report, the group he co-led with saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter in the '70s and '80s; and in his international band, The Zawinul Syndicate, until his passing in 2007.

This Crate Digging episode of Jazz Night in America finds our host, Christian McBride, selecting a must-hear 2006 concert from The Zawinul Syndicate, with Zawinul leading the way through a career-spanning setlist. We'll also look back on 50 years of Weather Report with some esteemed alumni of the band joining McBride in conversation.

"We had a good time. We had an adventure," Shorter says of his time collaborating with Zawinul. "We liked going for it — whatever 'it' is..."

Joe Zawinul, keyboards; Alegre Correa, guitar; Linley Marthe, bass; Roger Biwandu, drums; Aziz Sahmaoui, percussion, vocals; Jorge Bezerra Jr., percussion.

Set List
• "Orient Express" (Joe Zawinul)
• "Scarlet Woman" (Alphonso Johnson, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul)
• "Madagascar" (Joe Zawinul)
• "Borges Buenos Aires, Part 1" (Joe Zawinul)
• "Patriots" (Joe Zawinul)

Writer and Producer: Trevor Smith; Contributing Producer: Alex Ariff; Host: Christian McBride; Music Engineers: Rob Macomber and Jeff Rothman; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Technical Director: David Tallacksen; Senior Producer: Katie Simon; Executive Producers: Anya Grundmann and Gabrielle Armand; Senior Director of NPR Music: Lauren Onkey.

Special thanks to Seth Applebaum, Steve Rathe, Carolina Shorter and Tony Zawinul.