About Vienna - Your City Travel Guide
About Vienna - Your City Travel Guide
About Vienna - Your City Travel Guide





Viennese Culture: Joe Zawinul

Joe Zawinul (1932-2007)

Joe Zawinul, Austria's finest jazz export, actually started out as a classic musician. Highly talented and with perfect pitch, he was awarded a stipend for an excellent music training. But he soon found out that classic music was not what he wanted to play and turned to jazz. In the 1950s he emigrated to the States, first only planning to stay for a couple of months but then moving to New York City for good. One of the major decisive factors was the legendary jazz club 'Birdland' where he completed his musical education by listening to Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and many others. He adapted his style and changed from a jazz-inspired musician with classic training into a 'black' musician who was able to swing and funk as if he was born in Harlem and not in a Viennese suburb.
He then collaborated with Dina Washington, Cannonball Adderley and Miles Davis. His compositions have won him several Grammies and range from soulful hit tunes to more complex forms of compositions. Joe Zawinul is also an enthusiastic improviser.
Zawinul did not stop at what he had achieved either. His curiosity and openness resulted in a unique style, a fusion of jazz, rock, blues and world music. By exploring the instrument to its capacities he also helped establish the electric piano as a jazz standard.
His hit single 'Birdland' is a reference to his early influences. Joe Zawinul is now living in Los Angeles and successfully tours the world with his group 'The Zawinul Syndicate'. He has now fulfilled one of his dreams and has opened a high-profile jazz club in Vienna: 'Joe Zawinul's Birdland'.