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Ornette Coleman at the SF Jazz Festival

Joe Zawinul

Things are coming together for Joe Zawinul of late, even despite him not having a U.S. record deal and his distinctive musical amalgam has no easy route to radio. Within one week in January, Zawinul’s new album, Faces & Places (ESC) earned a Grammy nomination and he was inducted into the Hollywood’s Rock Walk along with Herbie Hancock.

All of this provided a backdrop of added expectancy when Zawinul played in his “hometown” at Catalina Bar and Grill. Although he has lived in Los Angeles for most of the last 30 years, Zawinul usually draws his musicians from elsewhere and he hasn’t played locally in a few years. His last scheduled stint, at Catalina two years ago, was cancelled after a brown recluse spider bit him while Zawinul was clearing his property in Malibu. Tonight’s gig was a ripe setting for a triumphant homecoming, and the band played accordingly: kickingly and poetically.

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