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Birdland (song)

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Title: Birdland (song)  
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Subject: Charlie Parker, Jazz fusion, Jazz standard, Back on the Block, Jerry Hey, Iowa State University Cyclone Marching Band, List of post-1950 jazz standards
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Birdland (song)

This article is about the Joe Zawinul instrumental. For the Patti Smith song, see Horses (album).
Single by Weather Report
from the album Heavy Weather
Released 1977
Format 7" and 12" single
Genre Jazz, fusion
Length 05:58
Label Columbia, CBS, ARC
Writer(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 gained a tremendous amount of media success, receiving a number of awards, as well as ranking high on various Billboard charts. It soon became known as a jazz standard, and entered the set lists of other artists including Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson’s big band, The Manhattan Transfer, Quincy Jones, and The String Cheese Incident.


"Birdland" essentially marked the peak of Weather Report's career with the release of Heavy Weather. With the addition of Jaco Pastorious, 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 jazz club on 52nd street that housed a countless number of famous jazz musicians. However, not only was the song named in honor of the legendary jazz club, but also after the man whom the club was named after, Charlie Parker, the ‘Bird’ himself. It was this club, that 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] And according to Pastorius in a 1978 interview, the studio version featured on Heavy Weather was recorded in just one take.


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, "Birdland"
  • Grammy Nomination, Best Jazz Soloist, Jaco Pastorius, Heavy Weather
  • Grammy Award, Manhattan Transfer version of "Birdland" (1980)
  • #1 on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart (1977)
  • #30 on the Billboard 200 chart (1977)
  • #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

Appears on

  • 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

See also


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