Artist Profiles: Joe Zawinul

Joe Zawinul

Few keyboardists in jazz history matched the creativity and eclecticism of Joe Zawinul. He was a true innovator in the world of jazz and one of the originators of today’s world fusion sounds.

Joe Zawinul was born on July 7, 1932, in Kirchbach, a small village near Vienna. His first instrument was the accordion. At the age of 12, he started to learn the piano, which became his main instrument. After World War II, Zawinul continued his musical education at the prestigious Vienna Conservatory. He moved to the United States in 1959 on a scholarship to the Berklee School of Music in Boston.

In the United States, he inevitably became involved in jazz, playing as a sideman to artists such as Slide Hampton, Dinah Washington, and Cannonball Adderley. He met and collaborated with Miles Davis while the latter was moving into his electric era and was essential in the outcome of Bitches Brew (1970), Davis’ first electric project.

After releasing his debut solo album on Atlantic in 1970, Zawinul and saxophonist Wayne Shorter put together one of the most important jazz groups of the 1970s, Weather Report. Drawing on the power and theatricality of rock and R&B, while maintaining allegiance to jazz and the pure spirit of improvisation, they were pioneers of the fusion movement of that decade while carving out their own unique niche.

Even though band members came and went, Weather Report’s spirit prevailed over the course of 17 albums, including the groundbreaking Black Market and the enormously popular Heavy Weather, which included Zawinul’s infectious song “Birdland.” That song, in versions by Weather Report, Manhattan Transfer and Quincy Jones, won separate Grammy awards in three successive decades. Weather Report itself won a Grammy for its live album, 8:30.

In 1985, after he and Shorter finally agreed to go in separate musical directions, Zawinul continued to create adventurous new grooves in the group known as Weather Update and then the Zawinul Syndicate, whose albums included My People in 1996 and the two-CD, World Tour in 1998.

Other special projects included an adventurous solo electronic album, Dialects (1986), and work as producer and arranger on Salif Keita’s landmark album, Amen (1991). Meanwhile, as another side project of his creative life, Zawinul also pursued classical composition, writing his ambitious Stories Of The Danube in 1993 and working with renowned classical pianist Friedrich Gulda. His special solo project “Mauthausen,” released in Europe in 2000, is a memorial for the victims of the Holocaust, and was performed on the site of the Austrian concentration camp after which it is named.

Zawinul had honorary doctorates from Berklee School of Music, and is the official Austrian goodwill ambassador to 17 African nations. In January 2002, Zawinul received the first International Jazz Award, co-presented by the International Jazz Festival Organization and the International Association of Jazz Educators. In 2002, he released the CD Faces & Places.

The live album Vienna Nights came out in 2005.

Zawinul was a pioneer in the use of electronic keyboards, ranging from synthesizers to samplers. He incorporated global sounds into his keyboards, developing cutting edge world fusion.

Joe Zawinul died in Vienna on 7 August 7, 2007.

Discography:

To You with Love (Strand, 1959)
Money in the Pocket (Atlantic, 1966)
Rise & Fall of Third Stream (Vortex, 1968)
Zawinul (Atlantic, 1971)
Dialects (Columbia, 1986)
The Immigrants (Columbia, 1988)
Black Water (Columbia, 1989)
Lost Tribes (Columbia, 1992)
My People (ESC, 1996)
Stories of the Danube (Polygram, 1996)
World Tour (ESC, 1997)
Mauthausen – Vom großen Sterben hören (ESC, 2000)
Faces & Places (ESC, 2002)
Joe Zawinul & The Zawinul Syndicate – Vienna Nights – Live at Joe Zawinul’s Birdland (Heads Up, 2005)
Brown Street (Heads Up, 2006)
75 (Heads Up, 2008)

Captivating Looped Violin Expressions

Joe Kye – Migrants

Joe Kye – Migrants (Joe Kye, 2017)

Migrants is the first full-length album by Korean American violinist, technology wizard and songwriter. I saw Joe live a few years ago and that’s how you can really experience his talent. Joe uses technology to loop his violin’s sounds and his vocals as well in real time.

On Migrants, Kye uses these techniques to deliver captivating layers, percussive elements and loops of sounds where he can turn a single violin into a string ensemble.

Kye is also a singer. His best vocal material takes place when he loops and overdubs his vocals to create choruses and other effects. It’s fascinating, masterful work.

His musical influences include indie rock, a cappella songs, pop, jazz, and classical music.

Migrants features several guests, including bassist Chris Frank, drummer Matt Berger and a string ensemble.

Joe Kye was born in Korea and moved to the United States with his family at a young age. They settled in Seattle.

Buy Migrants

Artist Profiles Steve Roach

Steve Roach – Photo by Adam Fleishman

 

Composer, producer, synthesist and multi-instrumentalist, Steve Roach was born February 16, 1955 in La Mesa, near San Diego, in California. He is fascinated by the desert landscapes and wide open spaces in the Southwest of the United States, as well as the outback deserts of Australia. Steve’s style has evolved from purely electronic sounds to the combination of synthetic sounds with some of the most primitive musical instruments.

Steve bought his first synthesizer in 1978. Although his first influences were German electronic acts like Tangerine Dream, Can and Klaus Schulze, Steve soon went beyond and developed his own style.

 

Steve Roach in 1982 – Photo by Thomas Ronkin

 

Los Angeles’ hectic way of life led him to isolate himself in a musical sanctuary. Initially, Steve composed intense sequencer-based music. Later, he started to compose more tranquil and atmospheric music as a response to the rhythmic and sequenced world that characterized his earlier music.

After Empetus, Steve’s compositions mirrored his impressions of southwestern landscapes and world music. His trips to Australia had a profound effect on his music. The desert’s attraction led Steve to move to Tucson, Arizona in the southwestern United States.

 

Steve Roach – Photo credit by John Woolsey

 

I seek musical instruments that allow me to create sounds in an attractive and intuitive way. It’s something intriguing. That’s the difference between a keyboardist and a synthesis,” says Steve.

Steve Roach records and produces his music in his own studio called the Time Room. It’s a room full of marvelous electronic music devices that Roach uses to extract a multitude of spellbinding sounds.

Steve Roach is restless in his search for new sounds that connect with an ancient source of truth in this ever changing world. Roach has earned his position in the international first tier of major progressive music artists over the last decades through his ceaseless productivity, constant innovation, open minded collaborations with numerous artists and the psychological depth of his music.

Recognized worldwide as one of the leading innovators of contemporary electronic music, he is a very prolific musicians, who has released dozens of albums since 1981, including the ground-breaking double CD Dreamtime Return; the critically acclaimed tribal-trance extravaganza Artifacts; the award winning Earth Island, the second collaboration with Mexican multi-instrumentalist Jorge Reyes and Spanish guitarist and producer Suso Sáiz; the independently produced The Dream Circle; his collaboration with Belgian musician Vidna Obmana, Well of Souls; and Kiva, a mind-bending masterpiece featuring hallucinogenic shamanic rites, synthesizer landscapes and primeval instruments, combining the talents of Roach, Michael Stearns and Ron Sunsinger.

 

Steve Roach – Dreamtime Return

 

At the melting point in the ocean of desert, this awesome expanse of a 180-degree horizon slowly works on the perception, revealing yet again the Other desert of inner regions that I crave to be in,” says Steve Roach.

Selected Discography:

Now (Fortuna 1982)
Traveler (Domino 1983, Fortuna 1987)
Structures from Silence (Fortuna 1984)
Quiet Music 1 (Fortuna 1986)
Quiet Music 2 (Fortuna 1986)
Quiet Music 3 (Fortuna 1986)
Empetus (Fortuna 1986)
Western Spaces (with Kevin Braheny,Thom Brennan; Fortuna 1990)
Quiet Music (Fortuna 1988)
The Leaving Time (with Michael Shrieve; Novus/RCA 1988)
Dreamtime Return (Fortuna 1988)
Stormwarning: Live in Concert (Soundquest 1989, Lektronic Soundscapes 1992)
Desert Solitaire (with Kevin Braheny, Michael Stearns; Fortuna 1989)
Australia: Sound of the Earth, with David Hudson, Sarah Hopkins (Fortuna 1990)
Strata, with Robert Rich (Hearts of Space 1990)
Now / Traveller (Fortuna 1992)
World’s Edge (Fortuna 1992)
Soma, with Robert Rich (Hearts of Space 1992)
Suspended Memories: Forgotten Gods, with Jorge Reyes, Suso Sáiz (Hearts of Space 1993)
The Lost Pieces (Rubicon 1993, Relic/Projekt 1995)
Origins (Fortuna 1993)
Solitaire: Ritual Ground, with Elmar Shulte (Silent 1993)
Suspended Memories: Earth Island, with Jorge Reyes, Suso Sáiz (Fathom 1994)
Artifacts (Fortuna 1994)
The Dream Circle (Soundquest 1994)
Well of Souls, with Vidna Obmana (Projekt 1995)
Kiva, with Michael Stearns, Ron Sunsinger (Fathom 1995)
The Dreamer Descends (Amplexus 1995)
The Magnificent Void (Fathom 1996)
On This Planet (Hearts of Space, 1997)
Slow Heat (Timeroom Editions, 1998)
Light Fantastic (Hearts of Space, 1999)
Atmospheric Conditions (Timeroom Editions, 1999)
The Dream Circle (Timeroom Editions, 1999)
Truth & Beauty: The Lost Pieces 2 (Timeroom Editions, 1999)
Midnight Moon (Projekt, 2000)
Early Man (Projekt, 2001)
Time of the Earth (2001)
Core (Timeroom Editions, 2001)
Streams & Currents (2001)
Darkest Before Dawn (2002)
Mystic Chords & Sacred Spaces (Projekt, 2003)
Texture Maps: The Lost Pieces 3 (Timeroom Editions, 2003)
Life Sequence (2003)
Fever Dreams (2004)
Holding the Space: Fever Dreams II (Timeroom Editions, 2004)
Places Beyond: The Lost Pieces 4 (Timeroom Editions, 2004)
Possible Planet (2005)
New Life Dreaming (2005)
Immersion: One (Projekt, 2006)
Proof Positive (2006)
Kairos: The Meeting of Time and Destiny (2006)
Immersion: Two (Projekt, 2006)
Fever Dreams III (2007)
Immersion : Three (2007)
A Deeper Silence (2008)
Landmass (Timeroom Editions, 2008)
Dynamic Stillness (2009)
Destination Beyond (2009)
Afterlight (2009)
Immersion: Four (Timeroom Editions, 2009)
Sigh of Ages (2010)
Immersion Five – Circadian Rhythms (2011)
Groove Immersion (2012)
Back to Life (2012)
Soul Tones (2012)
Future Flows (2013)[8]
Spiral Meditations (2013)
Bloodmoon Rising (2014)
The Delicate Beyond (2014)
The Delicate Forever (2014)
The Desert Collection – Volume 1 (2014)
Invisible (2015)
Skeleton Keys (Projekt, 2015)
The Skeleton Collection 2005 – 2015 (Timeroom Editions, 2015)
Etheric Imprints (Projekt, 2015)
Bloodmoon Rising – The Complete 5 hour collection (Timeroom Editions, 2015)
Vortex Immersion Zone (Timeroom Editions, 2015)
This Place to Be (2016)
Shadow of Time (Projekt Records, 2016)
Spiral Revelation (Projekt Records, 2016)
Fade to Gray (2016)
Painting in the Dark (2016)
The Passing (Timeroom Editions, 2017)
Nostalgia for the Future (Timeroom Editions, 2017)
Long Thoughts (Projekt Records, 2017)

Jordan Rudess From Bach to Rock European Tour 2018 Announced

Acclaimed keyboard player and composer Jordan Rudess, member of the progressive metal band Dream Theatre, will be touring Europe this spring. Rudess will be presenting a solo performance titled From Bach To Rock: A Musician’s Journey.

Rudess’ solo concert will travel through his captivating musical journey, from classical music to rock. Rudess was a young Juilliard piano prodigy destined for a classical music career and he evolved into a keyboard rock star marvel. While Rudess’ work in Dream Theater is within a heavy metal context, his solo work tends to be more classical and progressive rock oriented.

Of his journey, Jordan says: “When I left the conservatory, I remember my mother weeping, handing me the letter from the college president warning me that I had made a terrible mistake. I didn’t know where to go from there, but I was certain that I needed to discover myself in an unconventional musical path. The journey has been rocky at times but, when music is your muse, practice teaches you how to master difficult passages.”

Rudess’ solo discography includes: Arrival (1988), Listen (1993), Secrets of the Muse (1997), Resonance (1999), An Evening with John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess (2000), Feeding the Wheel (2001), 4NYC (2002), Christmas Sky (2002), Rhythm of Time (2004), Prime Cuts (2006), The Road Home (2007), Notes on a Dream (2009), All That Is Now (2013), Explorations (2014) and The Unforgotten Path (2015).

In addition to playing in Dream Theater, Jordan has worked with a wide range of artists including David Bowie, Jan Hammer, Enrique Iglesias, the Paul Winter Consort, Annie Haslam, LMR, his side project with Tony Levin and Marco Minneman, Liquid Tension Experiment, Steven Wilson, Aviv Geffen, the Dixie Dregs, Rod Morgenstein, and Tony Williams, among others.

The first confirmed show will take place April 13, 2018 at Jahrhunderthalle Club in Frankfurt, Germany.

The Sonja Kristina Anthology

Sonja Kristina: Anthology

Sonja Kristina: Anthology (The Right Honourable Recording Company, 2017)

Singer-songwriter Sonja Kristina was one of the female pioneers of progressive rock as the lead vocalist with British band Curved Air. This anthology contains two discs with a selection of music from her solo albums as well as new material.

These are short songs spanning various styles like folk-rock, pop, psychedelic rock and even world music influences.

The CD booklet contains liner notes and many exclusive photos of Sonja Kristina.

Buy Anthology

ECM Announces Thomas Strønen’s New Album Lucus

Thomas Strønen Time Is A Blind Guide – Lucus

ECM Records has announced the release of Time Is A Blind Guide – Lucus, a new album by Norwegian drummer and composer Thomas Strønen. The Lucus release date in January 19, 2018.

Lucus includes Ayumi Tanaka on piano; Håkon Aase on violin; Lucy Railton on cello; Ole Morten Vågan on double bass; and Thomas Strønen on drums and percussion.

Buy Lucus

Kit Downes To Release Obsidian

Kit Downes – Obsidian

British organist Kit Downes is set to release a new album titled Obsidian (ECM records) on January 19, 2018. Obsidian features Kit Downes on church organs and Tom Challenger on tenor saxophone.

In November 2016 producer Sun Chung followed Downes to three English churches: the Snape Church of John the Baptist, Bromeswell St Edmund Church and Union Chapel Church in Islington, London. Downes played the church organs in these very different acoustic spaces. Most of the album is solo organ work. He is joined on one piece, “Modern Gods” by saxophonist Tom Challenger.

Buy Obsidian

Clouds Can’s Progressive Pop

Clouds Can – Leave

 

Clouds Can – Leave (Progressive Promotion Records, 2017)

Leave is the new album by German act Clouds Can, a project featuring multi-instrumentalists T (Thomas Thielen) and Dominik Hüttermann. They describe their music as progressive pop, which is a pretty accurate description. It’s a set of beautifully-arranged, deeply melancholic songs.

Aside from the introspective pop sensibility, there are elements of post rock and some scarce progressive rock moments. Highlights include the epic instrumental conclusion of “Life is Strange” and the ambience and effects that open “Like Any Angel.”

 

 

Buy Leave

Premiata Forneria Marconi’s Emotional Tattoos

Premiata Forneria Marconi – Emotional Tattoos

Premiata Forneria Marconi – Emotional Tattoos (InsideOut Music, 2017)

Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) was one of the finest European progressive rock bands in the early 1970s. They are now signed to InsideOut Music and this is the band’s first release on their new label.

Like other iconic progressive rock bands of the 1970s, PFM had two stages, a progressive rock era and a commercial pop/rock phase. Emotional Tattoos takes you to the melodic rock and pop style, with catchy songs and ballads. There is only one progressive rock piece, a great instrumental titled “Freedom Square.”

This album is available in a special 2-CD set with English and Italian vocal versions of the album.

 

 

Buy Emotional Tattoos

Progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion, ambient electronic music and beyond