Jazz Guitar Summit - A Tribute to Attila Zoller

A Tribute to Attila Zoller - an all-star quintet interprets original music composed by the founder of the Vermont Jazz Center: April 21st, 2012 at 8:00 PM

The Vermont Jazz Center is pleased to present a very special tribute to its founder, Attila Zoller on April 21st, at 8:00 PM at the VJC performance space in Brattleboro, VT. In all the years that the Vermont Jazz Center has existed, this is the first concert that will focus primarily on the original compositions of its founder. This is a unique opportunity to listen to a magnificent quintet, all of whom were deeply connected to Attila Zoller interpreting his original material. The musicians performing will be: Don Friedman on piano, Draa Hobbs and Mitch Seidman on guitars, Ron McClure on bass and Eliot Zigmund on drums.

The musical director for this event is Draa Hobbs, who studied with Zoller for many years and then went on to perform with him in a variety of settings. Both he and Mitch Seidman were amongst the first students to graduate from the Vermont Jazz Center when it was held at Attila's self-built house in a remote region of Newfane, Vermont. Although they never received the hand-designed diploma that Zoller had promised them, they are amongst a small handful of world-class guitarists who continue to bear Zoller's torch, drawing on his rich, beautiful style as a springboard for their own creations.

Hobbs chose the program for this concert "taking great care to present the best tribute possible." He thoroughly studied the hand-written manuscripts held by Attila's daughter, Alicia Zoller Carusona and chose instrumental sets that featured different configurations of musicians: from solo guitar, to piano trio to a full quintet. He says the program is "as close to a retrospective of Zoller's compositions as I can create;" it includes selections from his first recordings ("The Birds and the Bees" from Gypsy Cry) to his last ("Joy for Joy," "Meant to Be" and Homage to O.P." from When It's Time). They'll perform Jimmy Raney's "Motion," written by Zoller's soul brother, and "Alicia's Lullaby" named for his daughter. They'll also perform a few of Zoller's lesser-known works like Struwwelpeter. With each tune comes a revealing story; be prepared to hear the musicians reminisce about the charismatic, larger-than-life guitarist who so affected their careers and personal lives.

The guitar stylings of Draa Hobbs and Mitch Seidman have been greatly influenced by Zoller. Each began their studies with him in 1974, and as Hobbs noted: "once Attila indicates 'do you want to do this with me?,' you're left with a choice." By saying "yes" Attila became their teacher for life. From him they gleaned his remarkable ability to reharmonize a song by inserting alternate chord changes and adding passing chords. As Hobbs states: Attila had an absolutely unique improv style; from his first phrase, you'd know it was him...His informal teaching style consisted of us writing out a solo over a given set of chord changes. Then we'd sit down together at a table and go through the solo. He'd say 'do this here, take this out;' he would 'fix it' so that the improvisation, from his own vantage point, would work better." Draa continued: "I was so happy to see Attila Zoller listed in a Jazz Times article as one of the 10 most underrated jazz guitarists of all time, because he really deserved it." [Summer issue, 2002, Jazz Times: http://jazztimes.com/articles/19841-secret-strings-10-most-underrated-guitarists-in-the-history-of-jazz]

Joining Hobbs is old friend and guitarist Mitch Seidman who now teaches at Berklee School of Music. Seidman has performed and recorded with a virtual who's who of jazz in New England. He was a contributing editor to 20th Century Guitar Magazine, and co-authored the book entitled Playing the Changes: Guitar released by Berklee Press/Hal Leonard, he has contributed to All Music Guide to Jazz and the Music Hound Essential Album Guide.

Pianist Don Friedman was one of Attila's closest friends and musical associates. They first recorded together at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1963 with Herbie Mann's group; they performed again at Newport with their own quartet in 1965. All told, they ended up recording about a dozen albums together with either Herbie Mann, Zoller, Friedman, or Lee Konitz at the leader's helm. Hobbs says of Friedman: "we all know that Zoller had a very special relationship with Don. In addition to being a virtuosic musician and an amazing piano legend he's one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet." Born in California, Don cut his teeth playing with groups that included West Coast legends Shorty Rogers, Chet Baker, Ornette Coleman, and Scott LaFaro. He earned his hard bop credentials touring with Dexter Gordon. In 1956 Buddy DeFranco hired him for a tour that included gigs at New York's Birdland and Basin Street. Don remained and thrived in New York, playing with Pepper Adams, Booker Little, Jimmy Giuffre, Charles Lloyd, Chuck Wayne, Elvin Jones and Herbie Mann. He started recording as a leader for Riverside records in 1961; Attila Zoller was featured on his fourth outing. By 1965 Friedman had been named a New Star in Down Beat's annual Critics' Poll. He continues to make his home in New York City but regularly tours the United States, Europe and Japan with top-flight groups.

Holding down the low end for this concert is the consummate bassist, Ron McClure, who also had the opportunity to tour and perform with Attila Zoller. McClure also has a rich discography including an abundance of recordings with Don Friedman. His first noteworthy recording was with the Buddy Rich Sextet, and then Maynard Ferguson's Big Band. He also played with Herbie Mann, and replaced the great Paul Chambers in Wynton Kelly's trio (with whom he backed up Wes Montgomery). McClure was a member of Charles Lloyd's "classic quartet" with Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette, an ensemble that was voted "Best Jazz Group of the Year" in 1967 by Downbeat Magazine. During the 1970s, McClure worked with Joe Henderson, Blook Sweat and Tears, Carla Bley, and many others. In the 80s he joined the ground-breaking ensemble "Quest" with Dave Liebman, Billy Hart and Richie Beirach. He also recorded with Michel Petrucciani and Lee Konitz. Now in his early 70s and still quite active, McClure continues to perform and record with many of the above artists as well as John Scofield, John Abercrombie, Vic Juris, Randy Brecker and many others.

The great drummer Eliot Zigmund rounds out the quintet. His playing has enhanced the work of many other jazz luminaries including the ground-breaking pianist Bill Evans; their recording "You Must Believe in Spring" is easily considered a jazz classic. Zigmund has also played and recorded numerous times with Don Friedman and can be found on a private 1988 recording with both Friedman and Attila Zoller together. Zigmund's discography includes works with Michel Petrucciani, Vince Guaraldi, Jim Hall, Stan Getz, Benny Golson, Richie Beirach, David Berkman, Gene Bertoncini, Eddie Gomez, Bobby Watson, Eddie Henderson, Jed Levy, Lee Konitz, Fred Hersch, Helen Merrill, Ted Rosenthal, Pete Malinverni, Cameron Brown, Warren Vache and many others. He has released three albums under his own name including his just released Steeplechase recording titled Breeze.

This concert is a celebration of Zoller's brilliant compositions interpreted by an all-star cast of musicians, each of whom were close friends and colleagues of the legendary guitarist. It is sponsored in part by a grant from the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment of the Arts. Thanks to the Colonial Inn and Vermont Public Radio.

General admission to hear a Tribute to Attila Zoller on April 21st at 8:00 PM is $20.00, $15.00 for students with valid ID. Purchase tickets online at www.vtjazz.org, at In the Moment, downtown Brattleboro, or call the VJC ticket line, 802-254-9088, ext. 1. Tickets can also be purchased at the door (no surcharge). This concert is handicapped accessible, but please call in advance (802 - 254 - 9088) if someone in your party will require the use of an elevator. Reserve or purchase your tickets early. It is anticipated that this exciting concert will sell out quickly.

Saturday, April 21st
8:00 PM
Vermont Jazz Center
General Admission $20.00, Students $15.00
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In the Moment, 143 Main St, Brattleboro, VT
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