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.
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?