From the very first notes of the new James Zollar CD, Zollar Systems, you know you are going to experience musical greatness. Zollar moved to New York City in 1984 and subsequently played with the Cecil McBee Quintet for five years and then recorded with Tom Harrell, Weldon Erving and Sam Rivers. Zollar was featured in Robert Altman’s motion picture, "Kansas City," Madonna’s music video, "My Baby’s Got a Secret," as well as Malcolm Lee’s film, "The Best Man." He played on the sound track of "The Perez Family" and is proud to be included in The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz (Oxford University Press 1999.). James was also a featured soloist with Jon Faddis and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra, as well as with Wynton Marsalis and The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Resulting in Zollar having a firm confidence and self assuredness in his playing that only comes with the previous experiences and musical friendships.
The CD contains a superb selection of tunes. Starting with James’ big trumpet sound paired with Stacy Dillard’s tenor sax on the opening number entitled, "Chicago Preferred." Zollar’s sound and articulation is from the Lee Morgan camp, but make no mistake, Zollar is his own man and he has full command over his own unique vocabulary. This hard bop number is a great vehicle that showcases his command of rhythmic articulation and playing through the bop era changes. Stacy Dillard takes a fine solo on the same selection to drive home the fact that this CD is a great example of jazz. Zollar demonstrates that he is an accomplished composer as well with his counterpoint laden hard swingin’ original, "Slick." Pianist Rick Germanson accompaniment follows Zollars creative solo lines superbly. Zollar’s lines flow through altered colors and substitutions while telling a musicals story that is continually building interest and speaking from the heart. This is the most exemplary performance of the CD, with Zollar’s growling, superimposing, rhythmically building, and weaving lines making a clear musical statement; this is swingin’!
The disc of ten tunes is a great CD and is highly recommended. The tunes are certainly a reflection of both James’ years of perfecting his high art form and his deep spiritual connection to the music. The center of this system is certainly swingin’; come experience the Zollar Systems for yourself!