Now & Then: A Portrait Ratko Zjaca
- 1Out of Body06:43
- 2Why We Are Here04:56
- 3The New Life05:04
- 4Welcome to Our Jungle07:12
- 5Great Ocean Road04:35
- 6Kandinsky Night05:21
- 7Then and Now10:54
- 9A Friend for Life07:11
- 10The Gate07:51
Info for Now & Then: A Portrait
Sometimes he likes to call his music “Fellini Jazz“. He brings Mediterranean air to the epicentre of American jazz. He explores classical music and influences from India and the Far East and combines “folklore imaginaire“ with free forms of expression. Ratko Zjaca is a bridge-builder par excellence who keeps on delving his pillars into new waters. IN+OUT Records releases a portrait of this exceptional Croatian guitarist which presents the different facets of his career, with ten pieces of music spanning ten years and featuring him in a variety of line-ups.
Zjaca studied classical music in Zagreb, then plunged into modern idioms at Rotterdam and at the New York University School of Music. He started to attend master classes given by the likes of Pat Metheny, Mike Stern, Bob Brookmeyer, Joe Pass and Jim Hall. The last two in particular left their mark on his playing which has always been orientated towards the USA. Among the rst musicians to appreciate his remarkable string wizardry were bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Al Foster. Ratko teamed up with these two in New York in 2000 for an intimate and intense trio experience, captured on the album “A Day In Manhattan“. You can listen to this early experimental period in two outtakes: “Out Of Body“ starts with a sleep-walking, elegant dance on the strings whereas “Why We Are Here“ heats up with inspiring modern jazz phrases, including some short solo work by Zjaca’s partners.
Six years later the Croatian can be found playing with a quartet. Joining Zjaca and Al Foster is one of Ratko’s east coast heroes, bassist John Patitucci, and a lyrical counterpoint, saxophonist Stan Mitrovic. “A most enjoyable listening experience“ – that’s how John Abercrombie described Ratko’s 1960 album, “Crossing The Border“, and he was certainly not the only enthusiast. Two tracks from this album –“Welcome To The Jungle“ and “Great Ocean Road“ – amaze the listener in totally different ways, one with a dense, aesthetic combination of modern idioms, and the other with ballad-like, almost folksy and dreamy duo between the Zjaca and Mitrovic. In a similar line-up Zjaca presented himself on his IN+OUT début album, “Continental Talk“, with Randy Brecker – another of Zjaca’s prominent heroes – and Steve Gadd replacing Foster. The recordings, made in 2008 and represented here by “The New Life“ and “The Game“, show an increasingly inspired Zjaca producing a melodious ow and even using a little Latin air in the arrangements. ”This is my dream team”, Zjaca said about the quintet, which he felt created an “organic symbiosis” during the sessions.
Eventually, in 2010, Zjaca returned to Europe. On “The Way We Talk“, which came into being at the Klangstudio Leyh in Mannheim, we hear Ratko Zjaca side by side with his new studio and stage partner, Simone Zanchini, probably the most daring accordionist that Italy has produced. Completing the band is Macedonian bass player Martin Gjakonovski, and – to cast the anchor in the New World – drummer Adam Nussbaum joins. The musical language is, at the same time, more Mediterranean, thanks to Zanchini’s effective escapades – and more experimental, bearing witness to stylistic boundary-crossing. This can be heard in the nervous and somewhat eccentric “Kandinsky Night“, and also in the cantable, melancholy “A Friend For Life“. This release is full of cinematic character, full of “Fellini-esque traits indeed.
Ratko Zjaca, electric and acoustic guitars, 11 string fretless guitar
Stan Mitrovic, tenor saxophone (3-5, 8, 10)
Simone Zanchini, accordion (6, 9)
Bart Platteau, flute (7)
Randy Brecker, trumpet (10)
Reggie Workman, bass (1, 2)
John Patitucci, bass (3, 4, 10)
Martin Gjakonovski, bass (6, 9)
Miroslav Vitous, bass (7)
Al Foster, drums (1, 2, 4)
Steve Gadd, drums (3, 10)
Adam Nussbaum, drums (6, 9)
Ben Schroder, drums (7)
is an innovative musician, who is widely recognized as a technically advanced guitarist. He is known for being a relentless individualist, which is evidenced in his improvisational style. Ratko has had a prolific and extensive session history as a recording guitarist having played on many released recordings. He is a highly versatile player covering many areas of music but is best known for his work in the modern jazz and improvisation idiom. Ratko has released a number of albums as leader and has performed and recorded with many leading world American and European musicians.
Ratko Zjaca is considered a very gifted stylist, assumes many roles in his macrocosm of music: contemporary guitarist, composer, performer and educator. His unique musical vision absorbs and reflects all manner of music while retaining an enviable individualism and high quality craftsmanship that can span from quiet intimacy to searing intensity. Diverse musical backgrounds, which include jazz, world music, and free improvisation. He has been working on original compositions as well as crafting beautiful and haunting improvisations. He invented a unique style that is fearless, ambitious and volatile. He studied and graduated from Zagreb University. In his drive for the necessary knowledge and the enormous need for studies he sought his refuge in The Netherlands at the Rotterdam Conservatory. There he could get teachings by well-known masters. He also followed masterclasses and personal courses with Joe Pass, Jim Hall, Pat Metheny, Mike Stern, Bob Brookmayer, John Abercrombie, Mick Goodrick, Hariprasad Chaurasia and others.
Unlike some of his colleagues Ratko is not focusing only on saxophone phraseologies, but is continuously expanding the guitar's vocabulary within today's world of music. Whilst improving his performance to create his typical own sound and style, Ratko as a gifted teacher with a loaded teaching schedule, is capable of transposing most advanced phrases and concepts into structures, suitable for every musician. He gives master classes all around the world for guitar and fretless guitar, in countries like Slovenia, the Netherlands, France, Croatia and the United States.
After completing his study at the Rotterdam Conservatory where he studied jazz guitar, composition and Indian classical music, he also studied at New York University School of Music. He started to work with own group and with American trumpet veteran Benny Bailey group. Ratko participated at many international festivals and has been booked for the major club dates at the European and American scene. Ratko has constantly made major efforts to enrich his experience with appearances and recordings. He was also performing and recording with Benny Bailey, Gary Peacock, Reggie Workman, John Patitucci, Al Foster, Jimmy Cobb, Steve Gadd, Alvin Queen, Ron Carter, Randy Brecker, Miroslav Vitous, Jeff Tain Watts, Adam Nussbaum, Kirk Lightsey, Simone Zancini, Anders Bergcrantz, Shawnn Monteiro, Denise Jannah etc.
In April 2000 Ratko recorded 'A Day in Manhattan' in New York with members of John Coltrane and Miles Davis rhythm section, Reggie Workman and Al Foster.
Ratko is currently composing music and working on a new world music project on which he plays baritone, sitar, fretless, soprano, electric and acoustic guitars - this will be the second part of his previous record Shades of Spirit, Fretless Guitar Project.
This album contains no booklet.