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Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg
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Walk Away
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Zanchini, Simone
Zjaca, Ratko

 Beyond The Lines 

Ratko Zjaca - electric & acoustic guitar
Simone Zanchini - accordion, live electronics
Martin Gjakonovski - acoustic bass
Adam Nussbaum - drums

Purists may relax: The ZZ Quartet has hardly anything to do with the Texan Blues rock band ZZ Top. Instead, the band‘s forceful initials originate from the surnames of the initiators Ratko Zjaca (guitar) and Simone Zanchini (accordion). After the sensational 2010 début album The Way We Talk (In + Out Records) they have returned to the studio once again, together with Martin Gjakonovski (bass) and Adam Nussbaum (drums), to write another chapter in the history of cross-border jazz. But - jazz?
“By now, this term in its classic American meaning is no longer sufficient,” muses Simone Zanchini. “What we do clearly has European roots, many classical influences, folklore, avant-garde, improvisation, sometimes fusion too. You‘ll only find something akin to swing in one piece at the most, but yet a distinct rhythm pervades the entire album”. And Ratko Zjaca believes he discerns an element of rock and pop music in the ZZ Quartet‘s compact, self-contained, highly exciting sound, which sometimes goes against the grain.
“We function as a band first and foremost; we have got to know and appreciate each other these last four years. It may be customary in jazz to play with new people again and again, to take on the unexpected, to act out one‘s individuality. We, on the other hand, draw predominantly on our mutual trust. Not for nothing were legendary bands such as Led Zeppelin, the Beatles and Weather Report able to develop their concept continuously over a long period of time”.
A small hint of ZZ Top after all, then, albeit in the philosophical sense. “We never wanted to make an album that was just purely jazz,” says Ratko Zjaca, explaining the motive of the ZZ Quartet which, on The Way We Talk still bears his name in classic jazz fashion. “The preferences and the musical socializations of the four of us are too different for that. None of us wants to be confined or enslaved to a particular style any more”. Zjaca, the guitarist, is from Croatia but has made the Netherlands his home for more than 20 years. Zanchini, the accordion player, is from Italy, Martin Gjakonovski, the bass player, is from Macedonia, but has been living in Bergisch Gladbach, near Cologne, for 23 years. And Adam Nussbaum, the authority on drums, is from New York. An international task force of esthetic possibilities is searching for the truth beyond the generally accepted lines of demarcation. Beyond The Lines. Which lines? “In effect this is about every line,” says Ratko. “Everything we hear goes into what we do. The passion for film music as well as the secret love of rock, the admiration of classical music, the longing for folk and, of course, the burning desire for jazz and its possibilities for improvisation.“
Hence, they play no standards. Nine of the eleven tracks, which all have it in them to become new standards, were penned by Ratko Zjaca and Simone Zanchini and one each by Adam Nussbaum and his daughter Maja (“Days Of Old”) and by Martin Gjakonovski (“The South Song”). A different concept, a foreign path, which nevertheless leads into familiar areas. The change is most clearly noticeable in “The Clockwork” by Zanchini. “We have developed further”, the accordion wizard emphasizes. “This begins with our compositions and becomes most obvious when we play together. We move much further away from guidelines than we used to and have become more mature, more grown-up. Everything is balanced, even if Ratko and I have written most of the tracks”
ZZ are both from the same corner of Europe, but could not be much greater opposites as far as their nature is concerned. Together with the two other guys and their respective backgrounds, this adds up to an unbelievable mixture, a wonderfully tasty cake, for which the recipe and especially the chemistry are really good. For example, Adam Nussbaum, who in his long life as a drummer has already set the beat for John Abercrombie, Paul Bley, Michael Brecker, Tom Harrell, Lee Konitz, David Liebman, John Scofield, and also the Allman Brothers Band and Jaco Pastorius, calls the ZZ Quartet „one of the craziest bands I have played with in the last 30 years“. Still in doubt? Just give it a go and leave your (listening) habits behind.

 | Audio-CD / 17.50 € | 

> Beyond The Lines <
IOR CD 77117

Click on "Play" to listen!
  Voglio Una Donna
  River Spirit
  Freak In Freak Out
  The Clockwork
  Bale Con La Uno
  The Judge Says You Are Innocent
  Days Of Old
  The Lost Call
  The South Song
  The Easy Whistler

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