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Absolute Zawinul
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Performer Notes
  • Of the many projects for Estonian-born Kristjan Jarvi and the Absolute Ensemble, this one likely required the most work, and is dearest to their hearts. A collaboration with Joe Zawinul before he passed away is the result, and Absolute Zawinul is a perfect title. While there are inferences to Weather Report, this music is what Zawinul was performing prior to his death -- a steamy multi-ethnic brew of electronic and natural sounds, in this case with his band and the Absolute Enemble Orchestra via arrangements by Gene Pritsker. Except for one track at the Zawinul Tribute Concert in Vienna, Austria shorty after he died, this is a studio date with the keyboardist and friends in full-flight. A vocoder is used frequently, and the near-30-piece orchestra fairly roars in approval with a reverential, at-times hushed, but constant underlying tone. Themes dedicated to the Ottoman Empire, Japan, American gospel music, and Euro-dance (check out the extraordinary "Good Day") or rock music are clearly present. The heavy, celebratory beat of "Bimoya," the obvious influence of "Sultan," and the speaking-in-tongues effects during the Asian-flavored "Great Empire" are much more direct and focused than subtle. "The Peasant" is electronically synthesized in an Eastern Indian classical motif, while the concert piece without Zawinul, "Ice Pick Willy," lashes out rocking ? la Gil Evans in his Jimi Hendrix period. Overdubs are used liberally, and the standout musicians are Linley Marthe on electric bass guitar, Absolute flutist Hayley Melitta Reid, and vocalist Aziz Sahmaoui. It's a fine tribute to the genius of Joe Zawinul musically, while the CD also includes QuickTime videos adaptable to PC or Mac users, and a PDF file for credits and photos. Absolute Zawinul comes with a heartily high recommendation. ~ Michael G. Nastos
Professional Reviews
Down Beat (p.60) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "[T]hese songs come across as lively classical music, reflecting everything from the composer's vivid, colorful imagination and musical world."

JazzTimes (p.71) - "Zawinul ballads like 'Great Empire' and 'Peace' blend modern classical and world music in ways few other composers are capable of."
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