As some of you probably know, Joe Zawinul passed away yesterday and given my recent posting about electric piano, it seemed apt to pay a small tribute to one of the masters. Here’s two songs that, for both personal and historical reasons, always stand out when I think about Zawinul and his contribution to the music world. R.I.P.

Cannonball Adderley: Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
From Mercy, Mercy, Mercy (Blue Note, 1966)

In that NPR piece I linked to, Herbie Hancock pays Joe a remarkable tribute by noting that, as a White European, Zawinul managed to compose a song that spoke to an African American spiritual and musical tradition as rich as anything Hancock had heard from a Black artist. For years, I always assumed Cannonball had come up with this one and was genuinely blown away to learn that it was actually Zawinul’s tune.

Weather Report: American Tango
From Mysterious Traveller (Columbia, 1974)

Jazz purists hate Weather Report and their popularization of jazz fusion. Hip-hoppers (for a time at least) loved its mix of dissonance, rhythm and more moody loops than you could shake a stick at. Just listen to the song and try to count the number of different folks who’ve stolen snippets off it. Blows the mind.

Also, one of my favorite record stores in the country, Village Music in Mill Valley, CA, is closing after some 60 years in business. *sniff*