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James Zoller: Zollar System (2010)

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James Zoller: Zollar System James Zollar is a musical treasure hidden in plain sight. He has played and recorded as a sideman for a variety of artists, including Cecil McBee
Cecil McBee
Cecil McBee
b.1935
bass, acoustic
, Tom Harrell
Tom Harrell
Tom Harrell
b.1946
trumpet
, Weldon Irving and Sam Rivers
Sam Rivers
Sam Rivers
1923 - 2011
sax, tenor
, as a member of Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis
b.1961
trumpet
' brass section in the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, The Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
Orchestra and several of Don Byron
Don Byron
Don Byron
b.1958
clarinet
's bands. While he leads his own mainstream-oriented quintet, Zollar has recorded only one collection, the very fine Soaring With Bird (Naxos Jazz, 1998).

Twelve years later, he re-emerges as leader with Zollar Systems, a refreshingly sharp hard bop recital, bristling with energy and sonic acuteness. Tired of that old Blue Note '50s-'60s blowing session model? Think again. Zollar breathes new life into the old form, tightening it up and repackaging it for the 21st Century. This is apparent, right out of the chute with Daniel Jackson's "Chicago Preferred," in classic hard bop form: complex, rhythmically assertive head followed by solos. Zollar is more Kenny Dorham

Kenny Dorham
Kenny Dorham
1924 - 1972
trumpet
than Lee Morgan
Lee Morgan
Lee Morgan
1938 - 1972
trumpet
and it still doesn't reveal the tart, informed tone of the leader.

Pianist Rick Germanson

wastes no time establishing both his modern bop creds. His introduction to Basia's "The Prayer of a Happy Housewife" shimmers as does Stacy Dillard
Stacy Dillard
Stacy Dillard

saxophone
's soprano saxophone. Date producer and vocalist Nabuko Kiryu
Nabuko Kiryu
b.1968
vocalist
pens and sings her original composition "Take the Subway Home." She also provides the jaunty original "Go-en," sung in the original Japanese and then English. Zollar's solo sparkles with intelligence and melody. Don Byron lends his clarinet to the Eddie Harris
Eddie Harris
Eddie Harris
1934 - 1994
saxophone
romp "Spasmodic Movement," providing an angular and sharp solo.

Zollar proves his real talent on Hoagy Carmichael

Hoagy Carmichael
Hoagy Carmichael
1899 - 1981
piano
's "The Nearness of You." Unadorned and honest, Zollar's interpretation is melody over invention, soul over technique—the perfect hard bop ballad. James Zollar has spent far too long in the shadow of other leaders, who were all lucky to have his talent. Zollar Systems and the previous Soaring With Bird show the trumpeter to be more than able to lead his own musical vision.


Track Listing: Chicago Preferred; The Prayer of a Happy Housewife; Take The Subway Home;The Nearness of You; Spasmodic Movements; Go-En; Slick; Angel Face; Black Winter; Time To Say Good Bye.

Personnel: James Zollar: trumpet; Stacy Dillard: tenor and soprano saxophones; Rick Germanson: piano, keyboards; Ugonna Okegwo, Andy McCloud: bass; Bruce Cox: drums; Nabuko Kiryu: vocals, all arrangements.

Record Label: JZAZ Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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