- For other uses of the term 'Birdland', see Birdland.
" is an instrumental
composition by keyboardist Joe Zawinul
which debuted on the Weather Report
album Heavy Weather
in 1977. A jazz-fusion
piece, it achieved unusual commercial success and became a jazz standard, entering the repertoire of many groups and bands, including Buddy Rich
, Maynard Ferguson
's big band, and The Manhattan Transfer
, who recorded a vocalese
take on the tune with lyrics by Jon Hendricks
. The original version is instantly recognizable for a famous artificial harmonic
intro played by legendary bassist Jaco Pastorius
"Birdland" was named after the New York jazz club Birdland on 52nd Street, which is named after jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker. The song is a tribute to Parker and the club that Zawinul frequented as a young musician (and where he met his future wife). There is another relatively new jazz club in Vienna that Zawinul was involved in that is named after the song (which is named after the club in Manhattan).
Among fusion artists the only other song that received "hit" status in the same class as "Birdland" was Herbie Hancock's "Chameleon".