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Joe Zawinul & the Zawinul Syndicate (music group)

Jazz-classical fusion a work in progress

Jazz-classical fusion a work in progress

Jazz people like to brag that their idiom is "America's classical music." But if you catch some of them in a certain mood, you'll find that they long to merge their art with what much of the Western world calls "classical music" — the idiom that gave you Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, etc. The reverse is also true — classical musicians who want to get down with the jazz folk, to learn their freewheeling ways or merely steal a few licks and vamps for their own purposes.

Indeed, Walt Disney Concert Hall will be hosting two such high-profile fusions this winter. On Friday, pianist Brad Mehldau comes in with a jazz combo (including the eminent saxophonist Joshua...

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