Keyboardist Joe Zawinul, who helped bring electric instruments into the jazz mainstream, died early on September 11 in his home town of Vienna, Austria. He was 75.
A spokeswoman for the Wilhelmina Clinic confirmed Zawinul's death without giving details. Classically trained at the Vienna Conservatoire, Zawinul emigrated to the United States in 1959.
He played with Maynard Ferguson and Dinah Washington before joining saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderly's Quintet in 1961. He remained the group for nine years, while also recording two ground-breaking electric jazz albums with trumpeter Miles Davis: In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew.
In 1970, he founded the acclaimed group band Weather Report, which fused jazz with elements of rock, funk, and rhythm and blues. Zawinul's 1977 composition "Birdland" marked a commercial high point for the band, which broke up in 1986. The following year, Zawinul founded a new group, the Zawinul Syndicate.
This past spring, he toured Europe to mark that band's 20th anniversary. He sought medical attention when the tour ended, according to an August statement by the Viennese Hospital Association.