When you say "jazz guitar" to most people, I’d be willing to bet a week’s lunch money that the first name to spring to mind would not be the fine Hungarian player Attila Zoller (1927-98). There’s not a lot in print with his name above the title (though he played/recorded with Lee Konitz, Ron Carter, Benny Goodman and Tony Scott), so that makes this reissue all the more significant. Zoller played in a very interesting style - like Django Reinhardt before him, he absorbed the folk and classical sounds of his Central European background; along with that, the mainstream American jazz guitar styles (Christian, Ellis, Montgomery); and he was open to the wild sounds of the 50s/60s free jazz movement (i.e., Ornette Coleman) to boot. He has a bright, brittle sound all his own, free of the overly polite, facile "licks" that drag most jazz guitarists to Dullsville.
Zoller brings in the whole of his experience to this fine 1970 session, originally issued on Herbie Mann’s Embryo label. He nods to Montgomery with the hearty tribute "Wild Wild Wes," engages in some sweet ballad playing on "Alicia’s Lullaby," gets into that suave music-to-watch-girls-by groove with "The Birds and The Bees" and cuts loose witty, angular and free with "Meet In Berlin." Lew Tabackin appears on four tracks playing tarogato, a wind instrument with a sound between an English horn and a soprano sax. The rest of the band - Hancock, Workman, Gaskin and Sonny Brown - are limber, laconic and empathetic as all get-out. If you think of jazz gee-tar as being first and foremost Montgomery, McLaughlin, Martino and Metheny, here’s a guy that’s worth going out of your way to hear.