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Ratko Zjaca: Continental Talk

John Barron By

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When guitarist Ratko Zjaca plans a recording session, he thinks big in terms of sidemen. The guitarist's 2006 release Crossing the Border (Nishville Records) featured bassist John Patitucci and drummer Al Foster, along with saxophonist and co-producer Stanislav Mitrovic. For Continental Talk, Patitucci and Mitrovic return and Foster is replaced by legendary drummer Steve Gadd. Trumpeter Randy Brecker is featured on three tunes.

The disc's twelve tracks—all original material written by Zjaca and Mitrovic—range from in-the-pocket funk to more open-ended modal jams. Zjaca leads the way throughout with his clean-toned hollow body Gibson guitar. The opening minor blues "Breakfast in Tokyo" and the mellow 6/8 bounce of "Portrait in Retrograde" demonstrate the guitarist's use of lush voicings and swinging single note lines. Tunes such as "At the Crossroads," "Home Again" and "Anibas" portray a light and lyrical landscape with Zjaca featured on acoustic guitar.

Mitrovic soars gracefully from track to track on both tenor and soprano saxophone. Indeed, the saxophonist turns in some of the more inspiring solos on the recording, including a Joe Henderson-inspired romp through his own composition "Correspondence" and a memorable duet with Gadd at the beginning of "Inner Ears."

As would be expected, Gadd and Patitucci provide rock-solid support with sensitivity to the unfolding of each groove. Brecker blows everybody away with brazen force, especially on the rocked-up "E Doubt."


Track Listing: Breakfast in Tokyo; The New Life: Portrait in Retrograde; Inner Ears; Kurosawa; At the Crossroads; Home Again; Correspondence; Feather; The Gate; Anibas; E Doubt.

Personnel: Ratko Zjaca: electric guitar, acoustic guitar; John Patitucci: acoustic bass; Steve Gadd: drums; Stanislav Mitrovic: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Randy Brecker: trumpet.

Title: Continental Talk | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: In + Out Records

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