Australian jazz-rock and classical keyboard master and composer Allan Zavod passed away on November 28, 2016. Zavod played piano, synthesizers, organ and other keyboards with some of the most iconic jazz-rock artists such as Billy Cobham, Herbie Hancock, Jean Luc-Ponty, George Benson and Frank Zappa.
Allan Zavod was born October 16, 1945 in Melbourne, Australia. He completed a music degree at Melbourne Conservatorium in 1969. His skill as a pianist was much-admired by Duke Ellington, who after hearing him playing jazz piano, arranged for him to extend his jazz studies at the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Zavod later held a post as professor of music in Berklee.
Based in the United States of America for 30 years, Zavod played, recorded and toured with many well-known international musicians such as Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller Orchestra, Woody Herman Orchestra, Maynard Ferguson Big Band, Cab Calloway, Billy Cobham, Gary Burton, Herbie Hancock, Jean Luc-Ponty, George Benson, and Frank Zappa.
Zavod played keyboards in Maynard Ferguson’s Chameleon (1974) and Life & Times by Billy Cobham (1976). After that, he joined the Jean Luc Ponty band and appeared on many of the band’s best recordings: Imaginary Voyage (1976), Enigmatic Ocean (1977), Cosmic Messenger (1978), Live (1979), A Taste for Passion (1979) and Civilized Evil (1980).
Mirage synth solo:
Mirage full piece:
In the 1980s and 1990s, Zavod recorded and toured with Frank Zappa. He played in the following Zappa albums: Fits Your 34B, No Matter Which 43B You Are (1985), All You Need is Glove (1985), Does Humor Belong in Music? (1986), You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 1 (1988), Guitar (1988), You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 3 (1989), You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 4 (1991), You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 6 (1992), and Cheap Thrills (1998).
In 1996, Zavod composed the score for the stage adaptation of J.R.R Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” that enjoyed tremendous success across Australia.
As a film composer, Zavod wrote scores for over 40 American and Australian films, documentaries, television and theater, including: a US film score with guitarist Eric Clapton; an award winning children’s film for “Shine” director Scott Hicks; a film for Disney; the Theatre production of The Hobbit; and the long running series “A Country Practice”.
In 2009 The University of Melbourne awarded Allan Zavod the Doctor of Music for his international contribution in the field of Classical Jazz Fusion, only one of 5 recipients with an earned Doctorate for composition in the 150 year history of the University.
From 2007 to 2012 Zavod was dedicated entirely to composing. During this period his orchestral works were performed in Australia and abroad.
Allan Zavod passed away at his home accompanied by his wife Christine, his son, Zac, his mother, Annie and close friends.
Donations to the family can be made at: gofundme.com/allan-zavod