Birdland (instrumental composition)

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Single by Weather Report
from the album Heavy Weather
Released 1977
Format 7" and 12" single
Genre Jazz, fusion
Length 5:58
Label Columbia, CBS, ARC
Songwriter(s) Joe Zawinul

"Birdland" is a jazz-fusion instrumental composition written by keyboardist Joe Zawinul of Weather Report. The piece made its debut on Weather Report’s 1977 studio album, Heavy Weather. With "Birdland" at the helm of the album, the song received awards, as well as ranking high on Billboard charts. It became a jazz standard, and entered the set lists of other artists including Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson’s big band, The Manhattan Transfer (whose version added lyrics by Jon Hendricks), Quincy Jones, Niacin and The String Cheese Incident.


"Birdland" marked the peak of Weather Report's commercial career with the release of Heavy Weather. With the addition of Jaco Pastorius, the band was able to push its music to the "height of its popularity", and with that came "Birdland." Weather Report's most commercially successful composition, "Birdland" served as a tribute to the New York City jazz club on 52nd street that housed many famous jazz musicians. The song was also named in honor of the man after whom the club was named, Charlie Parker, the 'Bird' himself. It was this club, which he frequented almost daily, that inspired Zawinul to write the song. Looking back, Zawinul claimed, "The old Birdland was the most important place in my life."[1]


Awards and recognition[edit]

Following the release of Heavy Weather, the Weather Report gained a number of awards and honors in recognition of their musical achievements related to Birdland. These include[2]

  • Grammy Nomination, Best Instrumental Composition (1978 ceremony)
  • Grammy Nomination, Best Jazz Soloist, Jaco Pastorius, Heavy Weather (1978 ceremony)
    1. 1 on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart (1977)
    2. 30 on the Billboard 200 chart (1977)
    3. 33 on the Billboard Top R&B Albums chart (1977)
  • Jazz Album of the Year and Jazz Group of the Year at the 42nd Down Beat Readers Poll
  • Record of the Year at the Jazz Forum People's Poll
  • Swing Journal's Silver Disc Award
  • Playboy's Jazz Record and Jazz Band of the Year
  • Record World's Instrumental Group of the Year
  • Cash Box's Record of the Year

Other artists have also been awarded for their own versions of the song:

Appears on[edit]

  • Discotheque Ideale: 25 Original Jazz Albums
  • Jazz Fusion, Vol. 2 [Nectar]
  • Heavy Weather
  • Jazzrock-Anthology, Vol. 2: Crossover
  • Live in Offenbach 1978
  • Young and Fine Live!
  • 8:30 [Japan 2CD]
  • Jazz Rocks
  • Classic Jazz-Funk, Vol. 4 [Mastercuts]
  • Jazz on a Summer's Day [Castle]
  • That's Jazz [EMI Classics]
  • Je N'Aime Pas le Jazz: Mais Ça J'Aime Bien!
  • This Is Jazz, Vol. 10
  • Jazziz: December 1997
  • Jazz: The Definitive Performances
  • Sony Music 100 Years: Soundtrack for a Century
  • Ken Burns Jazz: The Story of America's Music
  • Harmony Jazz: Le Chant Des Rêves
  • Jazz Collection
  • Smooth Jazz [Sony]
  • The Best of Weather Report
  • Punk Jazz: The Jaco Pastorius Anthology
  • Capital Gold Jazz Legends
  • Cool Summer Jazz
  • Guitar & Bass
  • Very Best of Smooth Jazz, Vol. 1
  • Funky Fusion
  • Music: Its Role and Importance in Our Lives
  • Forecast: Tomorrow
  • Jazz [Apace]
  • The Essential Jaco Pastorius
  • Jazz Funk
  • Collections
  • 101 Running Songs, Vol. 1
  • Feel the Difference of the Blu-Spec CD: Jazz Selection
  • Playlist: The Very Best of Weather Report
  • Jazz Roots: The Music of the Americas
  • Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology
  • The Perfect Jazz Collection, Vol. 2: 25 Original Albums
  • Pure... Jazz
  • Back on the Block (Quincy Jones)
  • Class of '78 (Buddy Rich) – Album later re-issued as "The Greatest Drummer That Ever Lived With 'The Best Band I Ever Had'"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Berendt and Huesmann, Joachim-Ernst and Gunther (2009). The Jazz Book: From Ragtime to 21st Century. Chicago, IL: Lawrence Hill. 
  2. ^ Ginell, Richard. "Heavy Weather". Album Review. AllMusic.