Joe Zawinul – Faces and places
(ESC – 2002)
by Ray Redmond
Back in the day I was a big fan of Weather Report, the band name Zawinul and Wayne Shorter performed under for almost 15 years. Birdland, Black market, these were practically anthems in my life for a while. So it’s nice to see Zawinul back at age 70 with a CD that’s still filled with the vibrancy and ethereal electricity that has been a hallmark of Joe’s music. Barefoot Beauty combines world rhythms with almost-otherworldly vocals to create an atmosphere that takes you to other lands. The Spirit of Julian “C” Adderly has a very ‘Black Market’ feel to it thanks in large part to the popping bass line by Etienne Mbappe, then it goes ‘world’ on you again with the chanting voices and structured chords.
Familiar to Me is a more standard ballad featuring the mellow vocals of Richard Page and Victor Bailey’s smooth bass. Good Day again makes heavy use of vocals as part of the instrumentation to give it a ‘world’ feel, and Zawinul populates the song with runs and (particularly) breaks and bridges that are pure Weather Report. The closer East 12th Street Band has some very sexy sax lines and a strong, thropping bass line provided this time by Richard Bona. The energy in Zawinul’s music is almost religious in it’s pervasiveness. Faces and Places is definitely an outgrowth, or continued growth, of the direction Zawinul was taking with the later Weather Report releases.