Josef Erich Zawinul (July 7, 1932 â€“ September 11, 2007) was an Austrian jazz keyboardist and composer.
First coming to prominence with saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, Zawinul went on to play with trumpeter Miles Davis, and to become one of the creators of jazz fusion, an innovative musical genre that combined jazz with elements of rock and world music. Later, Zawinul co-founded the groups Weather Report and the world fusion music oriented Zawinul Syndicate. Additionally, he made pioneering use of electric piano and synthesizers. Zawinul won the "Best Keyboardist" award 30 times from American jazz magazine Down Beat's critics' poll.
Several artists have honored Zawinul with songs, notably Brian Eno's instrumental "Zawinul/Lava", John McLaughlin's instrumental "Jozy", Warren Cuccurullo's "Hey Zawinul", Bob Baldwin's "Joe Zawinul", and BirÃ©li LagrÃ¨ne's instrumental "Josef". Zawinul's playing style is often dominated by quirky melodic improvisations - both bebop, ethnic and pop sounding - combined with sparse but rhythmic playing of big-band sounding chords or bass lines. In Weather Report, he often employed a vocoder as well as pre-recorded sounds played (i.e filtered and transposed) through a synthesizer, creating a very distinctive, often beautiful, synthesis of jazz harmonics and "noise" ("using all the sounds the world generates"). Many considered Zawinul as the "best" synthesizer player "in jazz", frequently employing several keyboards with live settings of his bands.