Joe Zawinul – Soul of a Village

By , August 31, 2010 5:17 pm


Joe Zawinul


Listen/Download – Joe Zawinul – Soul of a Village (45 edit)


Greetings all.

The middle of the week is here, and I may be tired, my nerves may be frayed, my brain may want to shut off, but I have a craving for some of that deep, deep stuff, so here we go.

The record I lay before you today is something I first heard during a long ago Asbury Park 45 Sessions, with my man Vincent the Soul Chef working the wheels du steel.

As I’ve said here many times before, the 45 Sessions are without fail, a DJs paradise, with the selectors slipping 45s under the needle that have the heads running up to the turntables to see what’s going on.

This blog has seen many, MANY sides that I first heard at the Lanes, and of we ever get it back up to speed, this will surely continue.

Anyway, when Vincent pulled this one out of his record box, and I heard the laid back but funky drums, and the electric piano (you know I love me some electric piano), and the spooky strings, my spidey sense started tingling, and when I found out that the music I was hearing had been created by none other than Joe Zawinul, I set out to find a copy of my own.

This took a little longer than I expected, and while I was waiting I pulled down the entire album from which it originated – ‘The Rise and Fall of the Third Stream’ – and was surprised to discover that there wasn’t much on that album that resembled the 45 I had heard (though the flip side of this 45, an edit of the track ‘Lord Lord Lord’ has a decided gospel edge).

For those of you to whom the term ‘Third Stream’ doesn’t ring any bells, I’ll tell you that it was affixed to classically influenced jazz in the 50s and 60s by folks like John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet. There’s a lot of string-based action on ‘Rise and Fall..’ but the overall effect is much more jazz than classical.

Zawinul (and the name should be very familiar) was the Austrian born pianist who made his mark in Cannonball Adderley’s band (Zawinul composed ‘Mercy Mercy Mercy’ and ‘Country Preacher’ among others) , moving on to work with Miles Davis (on ‘In a Silent Way’), and then eventually as one of the founding members of Weather Report.

‘Rise of the Third Stream’ was recorded in 1968 and was only Zawinul’s second solo effort in 10 years. It came a year before his work on ‘In a Silent Way’, and echoes of ‘Soul of a Village’ can be heard in his work with Davis.

Though the 45 lists the piece as only ‘Soul of a Village’, the music you’re hearing is actually an edited version of ‘Soul of a Village Pt2’, having been preceded on the album by just over two minutes of prepared piano and strings droning in an approximation of an Indian raga.

The 45 version of ‘Soul of a Village’ has such a perfect, self-contained vibe that I’m torn as to whether you need to hear both parts. The album is overall a much more challenging listening experience than the 45, but if serious jazz is your bag, I’d suggest you seek it out.

That said, the 45 version of ‘Soul of a Village’ (roughly one and a half minutes shorter than the Pt2 on the LP) is a slice of groove perfection. It opens (again) with the drone, before Zawinul comes in with the electric piano, followed by funky drums (either Roy McCurdy or Freddie Waits), Jimmy Owens’ muted trumpet, and even more strings, and the really groovy thing is that the string section actually swings along with the drums.

The tune was written (like almost every track on the album, save one) by saxophonist/arranger William Fischer, who as far as I can tell was first and foremost a classical composer/musician, and as a result ‘Rise and Fall of the Third Stream’ must be considered a  collaborative work between Fischer and Zawinul (a prolific composer in his own right).

This is serious ‘head’ music, in that it both spins around the inside of the cranium for full, mystical effect, but also compels the head to nod with the rhythm. I wouldn’t go as far as to suggest that anyone not sufficiently intoxicated might get up to dance, but it’s not entirely out of the question.

A truly unique and captivating record, and I hope you dig it.




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PS Head over to Iron Leg for a cool Nilsson cover.

2 Responses to “Joe Zawinul – Soul of a Village”

  1. Glad I was able to hip you to one… 🙂

    Peace and blessings.

  2. Holly says:

    I’m off to find the lp…

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