Naturally, the concert was greeted by a full-house (around 1,200 people.)
Manolo Badrena, on whose hands rests the only ‘trait d’union’ with Weather Report (apart from Zawinul himself of course) was inspiring with his solo drumming and amazing theatricality. Overall, the Syndicate’s powerful and hypnotic drumming seemed even more captivating than usual. Zawinul’s energy seems to grow with age - he was 71 last July - thus perhaps the more lyrical touch hidden behind the otherwise vigorous keyboard playing, a sense of contentment from a man whose contribution to music spans over fifty years, and is still growing.
On stage, the Syndicate felt like Zawinul’s large family: the ensemble’s cohesion informing and empowering each note of his music.
Sabine Kabongo’s spellbinding energy was a vision of potency, hypnotizing in itself. She entirely overwhelmed the audience with her strong, fascinating voice (as much an amazing contribution to the act as Maria Joao was on the original recording, Faces & Places.)
Amit Chatterjee’s mind-blowing guitar playing was naturally at ease with the most lyrical and intense accents (rooted in Hindusthani tradition,) and likewise amid the electrified and distorted quotations from rock/fusion domains (not to mention his out-of-this-world voice.)
The incredible dialogue between a very muscular bass (Linley Marthe) and the energetic and intelligent drumming by the young and relatively new to the band Stephane Galland had the audience jumping out of their seats.
And, or course, Zawinul’s keyboard playing: his voice becoming a thousand more voices, each different timbres of diversity.
After a lifetime of dealing with the experimental, from the Weather Report onwards, Joe Zawinul with the Syndicate is still one of the most captivating and meaningful acts the jazz arena can offer.