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Posted: 12 Sep 07, 16:47 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

The Associated Press

VIENNA, Austria – Joe Zawinul, the jazz keyboardist who soared to fame as one of the creators of jazz-rock fusion with the band Weather Report, has died, a hospital official said. He was 75.

Mr. Zawinul died early Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Vienna's Wilhelmina Clinic said, without giving details. He had been hospitalized since last month and suffered from a rare form of skin cancer, said Risa Zincke, his manager, according to the Austria Press Agency.

Mr. Zawinul won acclaim for his keyboard work on chart-topping Miles Davis albums such as In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew, and was a leading force behind the so-called "Electric Jazz" movement.

Mr. Zawinul rose to international fame after joining alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley's band in 1961. During his nine-year stint with the band, he composed such tunes as "Walk Tall," "Country Preacher" and most notably the gospel-influenced, soul-jazz anthem "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," his first important recording on electric piano, which climbed the pop charts and won a Grammy for Mr. Adderley.

In 1970, Mr. Zawinul and saxophonist Wayne Shorter founded Weather Report and produced a series of albums including Heavy Weather, Black Market, I Sing the Body Electric and the Grammy-winning live recording 8:30.

He is credited with bringing the electric piano and synthesizer into the jazz mainstream, but he was frustrated by the lack of respect for electric keyboards and new technology among jazz purists.