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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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BirdJam BHM DVD 06



1. Orient Express
2. Madagascar
3. Clario
4. Scarlet Woman
5. Fast City / Two Lines
6. Zansa II
7. Café Andalusia
8. Badia / Boogie Woogie Waltz
9. In A Silent Way

Joe Zawinul - Keyboards, vocoder
Sabine Kabongo - Vocals, percussion
Alegre Correa - Guitar, vocals, berimbau
Linley Marthe - Bass
Paco Sery - Drums, kalimba, vocals
Jorge Bezerra, Aziz Sahmaoui - Percussion, vocals
Wayne Shorter - Soprano sax (track 9)

This is a DVD version of the double CD I reviewed here last year. I was fairly hard on the album, recorded at the Lugano Jazz Festival in 2007 on Joe Zawinul's 75th birthday (7 July) - two months before Joe died. Perhaps because this DVD has better balanced sound, or perhaps just because it allows you to see what is happening, this filmed version avoids the lack of coordination which bedevilled the double CD. You can actually see who is playing what, and it helps to clarify the music.

Joe Zawinul himself looks quite impassive, except for the occasional smile, but the other musicians can be very physical - and that adds to the visual impact of the DVD, especially when one of the percussionists juggles with a tambourine after coaxing a wide variety of sounds from it! Singer Sabine Kabongo dances and sways around, and it is stunning to see the amazing guitar work from Alegre Correa in Clario. The outdoor ambience adds to the effect, as darkness falls over the piazza in Lugano. However, as with too many modern DVDs, the camerawork is too jumpy, preventing watchers from concentrating on one musician for any length of time.

You might call this world music, as the musicians come from all over the world. However, this has the drawback that the vocalists sing in a variety of unintelligible languages. On several other points, the comments in my CD review still hold good. Certainly this is a high-powered band and some of the tunes outstay their welcome. But there are plenty of highspots, like Paco Sery's virtuosic use of the thumb piano in Zansa II, and the embracing wash of sound in Scarlet Woman that you can just lie back and wallow in. As on the CD, the DVD ends with Zawinul reunited with his old Weather Report colleague, Wayne Shorter, for In a Silent Way - filmed in Hungary in August 2007. The DVD also includes audio versions of this and Hymn.

Having felt that the CD was an unworthy tribute to the late, great Joe Zawinul, I am heartened to note that this DVD provides a much more acceptable memorial of one of his last concerts.


Tony Augarde 

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