Jazz Giant Zawinul Dead at 75

Keyboardist defended 'electric jazz' against purists
By Josie Garthwaite,  Newser User
Posted Sep 11, 2007 7:28 PM CDT

(Newser) – Joe Zawinul, the keyboardist who plugged America into "Electric Jazz" in the 1970s, has died at age 75. Best known for playing jazz-rock fusion with Miles Davis and starting up Weather Report with Wayne Shorter, Zawinul defended his electric sound against jazz purists. "There is no difference between a Stradivarius or a beautiful synthesizer sound," he once said.

Born in Vienna in 1932, Zawinul trained in classical piano and emigrated to the US in the 1950s, the AP reports. He soon lit up gigs with Maynard Ferguson, Dinah Washington, and Cannonball Adderly. The giant credited his chops to playing on Vienna’s jazz scene: "One thing about Viennese musicians, they can really groove, more than even the German bands can," he once told Downbeat.