As a major force in "jazz fusion," Joe Zawinul has managed to stay on high ground while groups like Spyro Gyra and Return To Forever were mired in commercially viable, artistically questionable muck. That's not to say that Zawinul has been a marketplace dud. He wrote classic songs like "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" (from his years with Cannonball Adderly) and "Birdland" (via his stint with Weather Report) before mounting a fairly successful solo career.
His new double album was recorded live in Europe using a band packed with longtime associates who understand Zawinul's concepts enough to help spread his vision. The tunes simmer and shimmer with a heavenly blend of rhythm and great washes of electronic sound from the leader's keyboards. The one exception to this is "When There Was Royalty," a tune in which Zawinul romps through Fats Waller on his way to future jazz horizons.