Friday, May 17, 2019

A Window Above: Birdland

Song: "Birdland"
Writer: Joe Zawinul
Original Release: April 19, 1977
Band: Weather Report
Album: Heavy Weather

Another jazz fusion tune from my high school jazz band career and here is Joe Zawinul again.  After his stint with Cannonball Adderley (see here), Zawinul worked with Miles Davis, contributing to some of the latter's most innovative studio albums - In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew - as both writer and keyboardist.  There, he poached Davis's sax player Wayne Shorter with whom he founded the band Weather Report.  That act reached its zenith upon attaining the services of Jaco Pastorius, one of the most brilliant, mercurial and self-destructive electric bass players who has ever lived.

"Birdland" was Weather Report's biggest hit, a classic of 1970s jazz.  The song is a tribute to the New York jazz club of the same name and, of course, Charlie "Bird" Parker, for whom the club was named.  Birdland was where Zawinul hung out for years, seeing Louis Armstrong and Count Basie among many others.  It's also where he met his wife.

The song has won three Grammys.  Manhattan Transfer did it first, with lyrics by Jon Hendricks.  Quincy Jones won two for his arrangement on his 1989 album, Back on the Block.

Manhattan Transfer:

Quincy Jones:

Want to hear all of the songs I have featured in a convenient playlist?

Enjoy: A Window Above

What are you listening to these days?


  1. Unfortunately, my computer is sick, so I can't listen at the moment.

  2. Birdland has always been a nice staple in the jazz world (and makes me wish I had learned an instrument when in high school)

  3. I know the Manhattan Transfer and Quincy Jones covers but I am amazed by Weather Report.

  4. I sometime listen to jazz, almost listen to pop songs....
    Thank you for videos …..

  5. Gr-daughter is in jazz band. this would be a great choice. I like Manhattan Transfer most.

    1. It's a great piece for a high school group, no doubt.