|Single by Weather Report|
|from the album Heavy Weather|
|Released||April 19, 1977|
|Label||Columbia, CBS, ARC|
"Birdland" is a jazz/pop song written by Joe Zawinul of the band Weather Report as a tribute to the Birdland nightclub in New York City, which appeared on the band's 1977 album Heavy Weather. The Manhattan Transfer won a Grammy Award with their 1979 version of the song, which had lyrics by Jon Hendricks. Quincy Jones won two Grammy Awards for the version of the piece he included on his 1989 album Back on the Block. The leading Cuban band Los Van Van included an extended interpolation of the piece in their song Tim Pop/Birdland.
"Birdland" marked the peak of Weather Report's commercial career with the release of Heavy Weather. "Birdland" served as a tribute to the famous New York City jazz club that hosted many famous jazz musicians, which operated on Broadway from 1949 through 1965. This was the club, which he frequented almost daily, where Zawinul heard Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Miles Davis. It was also where he met his wife, Maxine. Looking back, Zawinul claimed, "The old Birdland was the most important place in my life." The song was also named in honor of Charlie Parker. According to Jaco Pastorius in a 1978 interview, the studio version featured on Heavy Weather was recorded in just one take.
The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings comments that “Birdland” typifies the formula that made the band successful, and “is one of only a handful of contemporary jazz tunes that everyone seems to have heard.”
- Joe Zawinul – Yamaha grand piano, ARP 2600 and Oberheim polyphonic synthesizer, melodica, vocals
- Wayne Shorter – soprano and tenor saxophones
- Jaco Pastorius – fretless bass, mandocello, vocals
- Manolo Badrena – tambourine
- Alex Acuña – drums
Awards and honors
The Weather Report recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, in 2010.
- Feather, Leonard (18 February 1990). "Keyboardist Joe Zawinul: From Weather Report to Rap". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
- "Best Jazz Fusion Performance" and "Best Arrangement on an Instrumental" "33rd Annual GRAMMY Awards (1990)". Retrieved 13 November 2018.
- Milkowski, Bill (2005). Jaco: The Extraordinary and Tragic Life of Jaco Pastorius (Anniversary ed.). San Francisco: Backbeat Books. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-87930-859-9.
- "Joe Zawinul Biography". Official Joe Zawinul Website. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
- Berendt and Huesmann, Joachim-Ernst and Gunther (2009). The Jazz Book: From Ragtime to 21st Century. Chicago, IL: Lawrence Hill.
- Jaco Pastorius Interview, archived from the original on 2021-12-14, retrieved 2021-03-14
- Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (2008). The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th ed.). Penguin. p. 1474. ISBN 978-0-141-03401-0.
- "2010 Grammy Hall Of Fame Selections Announced". GRAMMY.com. 15 May 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2017.