Joe Zawinul

The Rise & Fall of the Third Stream

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This transitional recording sees Joe Zawinul moving from the role of jazz pianist to that of a synthesist in the broad sense of the word. The recording, made up of advanced hard bop and post bop themes, includes -- with varying degrees of cohesion -- passages for cello and violas. The strings never completely meld with the jazz instrumentation, but they also don't get in the way. The title suggests Zawinul sees little value in partitioning music under such headings as "Third Stream" (a rubric for the fusion of jazz and classical music). This view would be famously exemplified in the influential projects with which Zawinul would soon be involved. Zawinul sticks with acoustic piano except for "Soul of a Village", where he improvises in a soul-jazz vein on Fender Rhodes over the tamboura-like droning of a prepared piano. On other tracks, his playing is similar to the sweeping grandeur of McCoy Tyner. Elsewhere, he is in more of a Keith Jarrett or Bill Evans space. There's good work from Jimmy Owens on trumpet and William Fischer on tenor sax, along with a top-flight rhythm section comprising bassist Richard Davis and either Freddie Waits or Roy McCurdy on drums.What's interesting about this music is the insight it provides on directions Zawinul would soon take with Miles Davis on the ethereal In a Silent Way, on the impressionistic 1971 eponymous release Zawinul, and then with the borderless fusioneering of Weather Report. These later projects are the realization of ideas that Zawinul was beginning to form on this 1967 session.

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