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ZZ Quartet: Beyond the Lines

Dan McClenaghan By

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The group is called the ZZ Quartet, and no, it is not an expansion of the famed blues rock trio from Texas, ZZ Top. Beyond the Lines is the brainchild of the leaders—the Zs of the ZZ Quartet—accordion master Simone Zanchini and guitarist Ratko Zjaca. And their music isn't rock, though elements of the genre surface, in Zjaca's oft-imes snappy guitar licks, or when Zanchini addresses the "ah-look-at-all-the-lonely-people" bit of The Beatles' melody on the tranquil "River Spirit."

Anytime time an accordion sits up front the tag "folk music" comes to mind, but as the disc's title suggests, this music pushes out beyond the lines of labels, with spirited improvisations riding hard driving rhythms ("Freak in Freak Out"), modernistic stealth grooves ("The Clockwork"), a graceful and gorgeous romantic slow dance ("Bale Con La Uno"), and a playful romp ("The Judge Says You Are Not Innocent").

The quartet's sound draws its influences from its international cast: Guitarist Zjaca hails from Croatia; accordionist Zanchini is from Italy; drummer Adam Nussbaum brings a New York state of mind to the music; and bassist Martin Gjakonovski is from Macedonia. Given that make-up, a European tinge is evident. Ten of the set's eleven tunes are penned by either Zjaca or Zanchini—the Wes Montgomery-style "The Lost Call" was written by Zjaca, while a swaying, lighthearted "The Easy Listener" comes from Zanchini's fertile imagination.

Beyond the Lines, by the ZZ Quartet, defies categorization on this very engaging outing.

Track Listing: Vogio Una Donna; Celtico; River Spirit; Freak In Freak Out; The Clockwork; Bale Con La Uno; The Judge Says You Are Not Innocent; Days of Old; The Lost Call; The South Song; The Easy Whistler.

Personnel: Ratko Zjaca: guitars; Simone Zanchini: accordion; Martin Gjakonovski: bass; Adam Nussbaum: drums.

Title: Beyond the Lines | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: In And Out Records


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