Joe Zawinul

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An instrument is not important. It is the way one plays that is important. Instruments don’t play by themselves.

Josef Erich Zawinul (7 July 1932 – 11 September 2007) was an Austrian pianist, keyboardist and composer. He was the co-founder of jazz fusion bands Weather Report and the Zawinul Syndicate.

Quotes[edit]

I mean, even if somebody doesn’t like the record, just for the compositions alone it’s got to be five stars. We played it very well; we worked hard on this record.
  • I ain’t scared of Beethoven or nobody when it comes to composing.
    • As quoted on Silvert, Conrad, “Joe Zawinul: Wayfaring Genius–Part II,” Down Beat, Jun. 15, 1978, pp. 20-22
  • In the beginning let's say Weather Report was a joint thing. Then, after the second album there's no question about it, it became more and more my group. Wayne wanted it like that, but we were always 'partners in crime'. No Wayne, no Weather Report.
    • As quoted in Nicholson, Stuart. "Jazz-Rock: A History". Schirmer Books. 1998.
  • [Weather Report] has never put out a record that we didn’t believe in, and there’s no way in the world that anybody was ever involved in a one star album. This is a heavy thing, man. I mean, even if somebody doesn’t like the record, just for the compositions alone it’s got to be five stars. We played it very well; we worked hard on this record. Anybody who gives this record one star has got to be insane.
  • That was one thing about [Mr. Gone] that I really love us for–that we did not try to jump on the bandwagon of ‘Birdland.’ Because that was suggested to us. ‘Hey man, write another ‘Birdland’ and you’ll sell a million fuckin’ records.’ Fuck you, man–we’re gonna do what we’re gonna do!
    • As quoted in Henderson, Bill, “Meteorology and Me; The Joe Zawinul Interview,” Black Music & Jazz Review, December 1978, pp. 8-9.

Prasad interview (1997)[edit]

As quoted in "Joe Zawinul: Man of the People" by Anil Prasad, 1997, Innerviews.org

  • To me, this is very boring music—most of it. It has nothing happening. Nothing is sticking. They’re playing music perfectly with wonderful intonation and technique, but it’s dangerous for jazz itself. I do wish these people all the best.
    • On Wynton Marsalis and the revival of traditional jazz
  • An instrument is not important. It is the way one plays that is important. Instruments don’t play by themselves. A piano is certainly not a better instrument than a synthesizer, but if a synthesizer is played like a piano, it becomes a very bad instrument. It doesn’t work. You can’t play a trumpet like a violin—it doesn’t go. That’s the problem—the players, not the instrument. Any instrument is a wonderful thing.
    • On how a musician's way of playing is important
  • Everything is in decline the moment you stop giving the artist freedom. That goes for everywhere, but it is happening in America right now. I think record companies are at great fault. In general, they don’t want to develop talent, but rather get the most out of them in the short term. They’re steering people to do things they perhaps wouldn’t do but have to do and not everyone has the integrity to say “No way.” People are hungry and they have to make money and take care of their families, so it’s a great pressure. Only when you can afford it from an artistic or financial point of view can you express what you want to express.
    • On how the record industry in America represses artist freedom and talents from upcoming artists
  • Jazz music is a lifestyle. It’s not notes, chords and arpeggios. Today’s improvisation is too based on the knowledge of chords and the way they practice the chords. It’s not a melodic thing anymore like the older days. It was much more important to play shorter and to play more variable, valid stuff. Today, a lot of solos are long and uninteresting and the influence usually comes from John Coltrane’s group. He himself was a master musician, but he put so much emphasis on chord knowledge and technique, and now the kids want to show how fast they can play. This is the same with piano players and most instrumentalists—it’s speed. That’s gonna change again and hopefully the kids who are now 16 and 17 years old have a little more sense and maybe some more stories to tell.
    • Reflecting on the new generation's take on jazz music

External links[edit]

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