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Joe Zawinul

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Josef Erich Zawinul (born July 7, 1932 in Vienna, Austria, died September 11, 2007 in Vienna) was a jazz keyboardist and composer. He was one of the front runners in the development of jazz fusion along with Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin and Miles Davis. Best known as the founder of the band Weather Report, with Miroslav Vitous and Wayne Shorter with whom he had previously recorded two albums as part of Davis’ studio band, he also headed an ensemble called the Zawinul Syndicate.

Zawinul, along with Corea and Hancock, was one of the first to integrate electric pianos and early synthesizers like the ARP 2600 in 1973’s Sweetnighter. Unlike Hancock, he didn’t care much for the Minimoog. He was one of the first to use a Fender-Rhodes with a Phasing effect too and a Wah-Wah pedal. He was a perfectionist and as a result achieved a very contemporary and modern sound. He also has played the kalimba, on Weather Report albums Mysterious Traveller and Mr. Gone.

Classically trained at the Vienna Conservatoire, Zawinul played in various broadcasting and studio bands before emigrating to the U.S. in 1959, where he played with Maynard Ferguson and Dinah Washington before joining the Cannonball Adderley Quintet in 1961.

During his nine-year stint on keyboards with Adderley, Zawinul wrote the hit “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.” He also composed “Walk Tall” and “Country Preacher,” the latter a tribute to U.S. Civil Rights Movement leader Rev. Jesse Jackson.

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