The Zawinul Syndicate

Black Water

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With a few changes in personnel, the Zawinul Syndicate continues to be Joe Zawinul's personal vehicle for pan-global fusions of jazz, Afro-Latin rhythms, rock and whatever world music he can lay his hands on. Again Zawinul keeps a configuration of vocalists on board, including his own gritty electronically processed voice, and he even dusts off his childhood accordion for a bit of Austrian local color on "Medicine Man." The leadoff track, a group remake of "Carnivalito" recorded live in Copenhagen, is, oddly enough, inferior to Zawinul's solo version -- too cluttered. But with the South African freedom-fighting, percolating "Black Water," the Syndicate is back on track, empowered as always by Zawinul's unquenchable urge to swing right in the pocket. And far from being predictable in its format, the Syndicate takes considerable time out to do Thelonious Monk's "Monk's Mood" and "Little Rootie Tootie" in amazingly reverent, though electronic, fashion. One can, however, do without bassist Gerald Veasley's spoken admonition to Monk's critics that reeks of PC.

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