Keyboardist/composer Joe Zawinul's accomplishments with Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, and Weather Report, amid his revolutionary approach to synths, cannot be undermined. In some instances, artists such as Zawinul set paradigms of excellence and inventiveness that might seem difficult to repeat. Naturally, the listener shouldn't expect any performer to continually rest on his or her laurels, or abide by a proven or perhaps unwavering formula. To that end, Zawinul's 2002 solo effort seems to be a summarization of his recent jazz/fusion/world music stylizations, witnessed by his Zawinul Syndicate band. As this solo effort offers more of the same. Here, the keyboardist enlists a multinational cast of percussionists (including ex-Weather Report personnel), vocalists, and soloists for an album that more or less mirrors his recent output. Regrettably, few if any of these works impart a permanent impression. Many of these arrangements feature Zawinul's wily synth passages and otherworldly Vocoder (digital EFX) based vocalese. He pays homage to his former employer, Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, on the piece titled "The Spirit of Julian "C" Adderley." The basis for this production entails an array of rather predictable worldbeat-style discourses consisting of shifting percussion vamps, North African modalities, and quaint Austrian folk melodies. There are some touching moments to complement a few rousing opuses. Overall, there are some compelling musical events to coincide with what appears to be a hodgepodge of contrasting notions stitched together.
Faces & Places Review
by Glenn Astarita