Jazz Music

Birdland - Weather Report (1977)

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"Birdland" is a jazz instrumental composition by keyboardist Joe Zawinul that debuted on the seventh album of Zawinul's group Weather Report, "Heavy Weather", in 1977. A jazz-fusion piece, it achieved unusual commercial success and became a jazz standard, reaching number 1 on the Billboard Jazz chart as well as charting high on the Hot 100 and R&B charts, as well. It has entered the repertoire of many groups and bands over the years, including Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson's big band, and The Manhattan Transfer, who recorded a vocalese take on the tune with lyrics by Jon Hendricks. An uptempo version with a rap introduction appears on Quincy Jones' 1989 album "Back On The Block", with vocals by Kool Moe Dee, Big Daddy Kane, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. The original version is easily recognized by an artificial harmonic intro played by bassist Jaco Pastorius. "Birdland" was named after the New York City jazz club Birdland on 52nd Street, which in turn was named after jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker, nicknamed 'Bird'. The song is a tribute to Parker and the club that Zawinul frequented as a young musician (and where he met his future wife). "Heavy Weather" is one of the best-sellers in the Columbia jazz catalog, and is on the short list of LP's considered to be the greatest of all jazz-fusion recordings.

Tags: fusion

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