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Brosse Street Journal » Arts and Culture:

ďI Am Not Famous, I Am Lucky!Ē
Joe Zawinul in Tbilisi

By David Muradian
Brosse Street Journal
Wednesday, September 14 2005
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Joe Zawinul
Joe Zawinul
At age 62, he looks like a none-too-tall magician from a fairy tale, but one who is very funny and has a great sense of humor.

Joe Zawinul travels a lot and has experienced many countries, traditions and languages. He held a performance with his group Syndicate on April 13 in Tbilisi, but it wasnít his first visit to Georgia. The organizers (Eastern Promotion Ltd.) produced another concert in 2000.

"After the first time we were here in Tbilisi, five years ago", Zawinul says, "all of the band said we would be waiting for the day we can return here. We could enjoy being here this time; last time we arrived at 4 oíclock in the morning from India via Austria and we were very tired."

When Zawinul is talking about collaboration with different musicians from various nationalities, he says that something happens that doesnít come from the music, but from the people he communicates with. "People are first, music is second," Zawinul says," I donít want to mix music (styles); it comes itself, it happens, when I am somewhere. Any melody Iíve ever written, you can find anywhere else. I donít create music from different national sounds. My music doesnít come from notes. It comes from here, what I feel."

Zawinul says anywhere the band goes, people feel that they already know their music. "That is a part of the secret," he said. "That you speak a language, that people can understand you."

Born in Austria, he moved to the United States in 1959. There he collaborated with various famous musicians including jazz great Miles Davis. Then he joined with saxophonist Wayne Shorter and they created their own group Weather Report, which was very popular in the 1970s and after. During that period, many famous musicians, such as Jaco Pastorius and Alphonso Johnson, played with Weather Report. Now heís with Syndicate and outside the group he also collaborates with many famous musicians from various countries. In 1996 and 1998, Syndicate albums received Grammy nominations. Zawinul says those collaborations are fun for him and good experience. Zwinul now is an official goodwill ambassador for Austria in 17 African nations.

Zawinul says he hasnít listened to any particular artistís music for almost 20 years. He says that music, and especially jazz, has become boring. " There is nothing new happening which we can hear. You realize that we live in 2005, and the new records sound like the 1950s, but not as good. They donít have the power, the feeling of enthusiasm, although instrumentally they are great.

"I had listened to a lot of music all my life, and I decided not to play anything I had played before," Zawinul said. If he has an opportunity to listen to anybodyís music he uses it, but he listens to it in the places, when usually other people are listening. Zawinul says he likes a lot of music, but doesnít know many contemporary musicians.

Zawinul doesnít consider himself famous. He says he is not proud, but just lucky. " I was given a little something from above, a little talent," he says. "You can never be proud of talent; you can be grateful. What is fame?"

Zawinul said he liked Georgian people and their country. He has seen a big difference between his first visit five years ago and today. Despite being 62, an age when many musicians stop their career, Zawinul looked full of energy and enthusiasm, and he said he was going "to shock" people anywhere he goes.


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