May 28, 2024

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CD review: Scott Kinsey – We Speak Luniwaz: The Music of Joe Zawinul 2019: Video, CD cover

Widely known as one of the most skilled keyboard players of his generation, Scott Kinsey is also one of the foremost interpreters of Joe Zawinul’s rich musical legacy. As musical director of the Zawinul Legacy Band, Kinsey has delivered electrifying performances in celebration of Zawinul’s groundbreaking work with Weather Report and the Zawinul Syndicate.

On We Speak Luniwaz, his Whirlwind Recordings debut, Kinsey brings his expertise to bear on re-imaginings of seven scintillating Zawinul compositions, plus one by Wayne Shorter and two originals. Joined by electric bass phenom Hadrien Feraud, saxophone/flute master Katisse Buckingham and Hungarian drummer Gergo Borlai, this accomplished crew generates sparkling energy and percolating grooves on entrancing Zawinul fare like “The Harvest” (Dialects, 1986), “Victims of the Groove” (Lost Tribes, 1992), “Black Market” (Black Market,1976), “Fast City” (Night Passage, 1980), “Between the Thighs” (Tale Spinnin’, 1975) and “Where the Moon Goes” (Procession,1983). For the funky “Cucumber Slumber,” (Mysterious Traveler, 1974), Kinsey showcases Buckingham’s skills as rapper with a testimony to Joe in a segment titled “World Citizen.”

“Zawinul’s music has been near and dear to me ever since the moment I first heard it,” Kinsey wrote in the liner notes. “My objective was to try to do justice to this material, more than anything as a little thank-you note to someone who certainly changed my life,” added Kinsey. “And someone who gave us all so much through his uncompromising and impossibly high musical standards. What Joe did was create his own personal language that was always in the moment and totally fresh! So with time, I also learned to speak Luniwaz, perhaps using my own personal dialect… I’m pretty sure he would have loved this record.”

Special guests on this dynamic project include former Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip, former Weather Report percussionist Robert Thomas Jr., former Zawinul Syndicate percussionist Arto Tunçboyaciyan and former Zawinul Syndicate drummer Michael Baker. Like Kinsey, they all speak Luniwaz.

A prolific composer andimaginative improviser, Kinsey has been the secret weapon in groups like Tribal Tech with Scott Henderson, Gary Willis and Kirk Covington (from 1992’s Illicitto 2012’s X), Human Element with Matthew Garrison, Tunçboyaciyan and drummer Gary Novak (2011’s self-titled debut and 2018’s You Are In You) and more recently the acclaimed ARC Trio, with Haslip and Borlai. As a leader, he has presided over 2006’s Kinesthetics and 2016’s Near Life Experience, as well asNo Sleep in 2018. Kinsey has also collaborated with the likes of Kurt Rosenwinkel, Alphonso Johnson, Robben Ford, Dennis Chambers, John McLaughlin, Peter Erskine, Bill Evans, Oz Noy, Tim Lefebvre, Thundercat, Flying Lotus and many others.

The legendary composer and producer Bob Belden said: “Scott Kinsey has taken the language of the synthesizer to the highest level in our modern times, as he is the first generation of keyboardists who developed electronically as opposed to the acoustic-centric classic piano model.” Kinsey continues to push the envelope in exhilarating ways on his outstanding new release, We Speak Luniwaz.

Scott Kinsey’s realization of these Weather Report tunes manages to not only pay tribute to the works of Zawinul and Shorter but also to mine the music for discoverable gold. His band plays the daylights out of these tunes. This album deserves your attention.
~ Peter Erskine


1. The Harvest (6:35)
2. Victims of the Groove (7:26)
3. Cucumber Slumber / World Citizen (6:07)
4. We Speak Luniwaz (4:01)
5. Black Market (7:38)
6. Fast City (5:54)
7. Running the Dara Down (7:24)
8. Port of Entry (7:22)
9. Between the Thighs (6:49)
10. Where the Moon Goes (7:34)

Scott Kinsey – keyboards, piano, vocoder
Katise Buckingham – tenor & soprano saxophones, flute, rhymes
Hadrien Feraud – electric bass
Gergo Borlai – drums


Steve Tavaglione – saxophone
Jimmy Haslip – electric bass
Michael Baker – drums
Danny Carey – electronic drums
Cyril Atef – drums
Bobby Thomas Jr., Arto Tunçboyaciyan, Brad Dutz – percussion
Naina Kundu – voice

Image result for Scott Kinsey – We Speak Luniwaz: The Music of Joe Zawinul

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