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Ratko Zjaca

Solo guitar album “Archtop Avenue” is out now

Album “Archtop Avenue” was chosen to be on the 33rd place of the best 100 jazz albums in 2023 selected for the American Jazz Journalists Association.

“Archtop Avenue” is part of my long-term research on Archtop guitars and is dedicated to the most famous guitar builders John D’Angelico, Jimmy D’Aquisto, Chris Mirabella, Bryant Trenier, Linda Manzer, Bob Benedetto, Jim Triggs…

Review: Ratko Zjaca – “Archtop Avenue – Solo Guitar”

This is a solo guitar album by Croatian (resident in Netherlands) Jazz guitarist / composer Ratko Zjaca. The album presents twelve tracks, three of which are original compositions by Zjaca and the remaining nine are Jazz standards. Each of the tracks was recorded using a different archtop guitar, each built by a different luthier, and the album is obviously as much a tribute to the Art of archtop luthiery, as to the music itself.

The naked solo instrumental albums are always a tremendous challenge to any musician, and the courage needed to attempt such projects is often as bold as the talent and performance skills needed to realize them. Zjaca, who is one of the most prolific and busy European Jazz musicians, certainly has all the ingredients needed to undertake a solo guitar recording, backed by his extensive experience, but no less importantly his love of Jazz and the guitar. All of this is immediately apparent when the music start to play…

The selection of tunes is certainly another evidence of the fact that this album is a true labor of love. There are no easy pieces here, and the highly individual and non-trivial treatment they receive here is a reflection of Zjaca’s passion. The music often moves away from the familiar melody line and the improvisations float freely, but the music stays coherent and an attentive listener is always able to follow the Artist’s intentions, smiling gently when the music finally returns to the familiar phrases.

It will take several repeated listening sessions to discover all the layers of this album, as it is rich in ideas and clever arrangements; a delightful musical experience for sure, for anybody who truly loves Jazz, improvisation and the sweet sound of guitar in the hands of a Master musician.

Overall, this is a deeply rewarding listening experience, for all Jazz lovers and certainly for guitar connoisseurs, who will find here a whole world of music, that never stops to amaze. Once you are through with digesting the tunes, you are welcome to compare the intricate sound subtleties between the twelve instruments Zjaca utilizes here. Enjoy the trip!

Adam Baruch

“While respecting the harmonic contours and deeply ingrained melodies of those oft-covered tunes, and others presented here on Archtop Avenue, Zjaca puts his own personal stamp on them through reharmonization, subtle rhythmic shifts and improvisational flights Recording each track with a different archtop guitar, he interprets these beloved standards, and a few originals, with taste and invention. Always mindful of addressing the bass line while delivering rich chord voicings and spinning fluid melody lines, he strikes a delicate balancing act on these 12 tunes from Archtop Avenue.

Archtop Avenue is a compelling addition to the canon of solo guitar and a crowning achievement in Zjaca’s career to date.”

Bill Milkowski – Jazz critic, journalist, biographer

“In this wonderful album, Ratko shares songs from the Great American Songbook and original compositions played with skill and feeling. The music is offered with a genuine reverence and a connection to the heart of the player. That is a rare and beautiful gift. Played without any hint of showing off, Ratko presents these beautiful melodies as food to be savored. This is beautiful music to use as a soundtrack for life. Sit back and relax and let the sounds take you away.”

Rodney Jones – Guitarist/Composer/Educator – NYC, May 2023

“Enjoy how Ratko speaks with each note, every pause, through each instrument. And enjoy each instrument. The differences, the similarities. The unique voices each one offers.”

Cristian Mirabella, one of the premier Archtop builders of the new generation of luthiers – March 2023, Saint James, New York

ZZ Quartet “Midnight in Europe” Tour

Art of the Guitar Festival – New York

Nocturnal Four – European Tour

“This new quartet by guitarist Ratko Zjaca Nocturnal Four featuring the great American drummer John Riley, Renato Chicco on Organ and Stefano Bedetti on Tenor Saxophone is full of creative, well conceived, and grooving original compositions by Ratko and absolutely first rate playing from everyone! It’s a tightly knit group and his best record yet in my opinion, well produced as far as overall conception, and great sound too! Check it out!”

Randy Brecker

“The unexpected delight of hearing John Riley on this recording with an all-star assemblage of European musicians 
Nocturnal Four only makes the listening experience sweeter. I highly recommend this album”

Peter Erskine

European Discography Award for Artistic Creation in Jazz Music

It’s a great honour to be chosen from the great Nisville Jazz Festival Organization and getting the  European discography award for the artistic creation in jazz music.

New album “Midnight in Europe”

ZZ Quartet’s new double live vinyl album “Midnight in Europe” recorded with Simone Zanchini, Adam Nussbaum and Martin Gjakonovski.

Midnight in Europe

A new live album “Midnight in Europe” by the ZZ Quartet is coming out on CD and vinyl in April 2021: Ratko Zjaca, Simone Zanchini, Martin Gjakonovski and Adam Nussbaum.

“This new outing by the ZZ Quartet, co-led by guitarist Ratko Zjaca and accordionist Simone Zanchini, finds the intrepid improvisers and virtuosos on their respective instruments stretching and exploring in a live setting.

Zjaca and Zanchini present an eclectic set of music that organically blends aspects of jazz, classical, folkloric, world music and rock, with just a touch of humor along the way from the fertile imaginations of these stellar improvisors.

They succeeded in grand fashion on these two unforgettable October nights in 2019 at the Milestone Jazz Club and the Bologna Jazz Festival. From structured forms to sublime ballads to free flowing conversations on the bandstand, the ZZ Quartet speaks in a myriad of tongues on Midnight in Europe.”

– Bill Milkowski

Bill Milkowski is a regular contributor to Downbeat, Jazziz and Guitar Player in the United States as well as Jazzthing in Germany. He is also the author of “JACO: The Extraordinary and Tragic Life of Jaco Pastorius” and co-author of “Here And Now: The Autobiography of Pat Martino” and author of a biography of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards.

Dave Liebman about this new live album: “Passionate… lyrical… one of a kind with virtuoso performance, this is music that should be heard by all music lovers.”

Steve Swallow about the new live album: “This recording reminds me how much fun a musical gathering can be. It’s good to recall that music, particularly improvised music, is rooted in dancing – the urge to shake that thing is universal, transcends all borders. We need music these days more than ever, and here’s just what the doctor ordered”.

Two new albums are out now

“Light in the World” – Ratko Zjaca (guitar / electronics / compositions) – Stefano Bedetti (tenor saxophone) – Renato Chicco (Hammond organ) – John Riley (drums).

“The Places You Will Go” – with incredible musicians in different line-ups, recorded in USA and Europe.

Croatian Composer Society Award 2019

Ratko received the award for authorship and artistic creation in jazz music from the Croatian Composer Society.

New album: “Light in the World”

After the success of the album “Life on Earth” released last year with Antonio Sanchez, Ratko recorded a new album in Italy, “Light in the World” with 9 new original compositions, with Stefano Bedetti, Renato Chicco and this time featuring on drums the great John Riley.

John Riley, Ratko Zjaca, Stefano Bedetti, Renato Chicco

New album: “Life on Earth”

The new album “Life on Earth”, with all original compositions by Ratko is out now.

Ratko Zjaca – guitar, Antonio Sanchez – drums, Stefano Bedetti – saxophone and Renato Chicco – Hammond organ.

Nocturnal Four – Renato, Antonio, Ratko, Stefano

“Don’t Try This Anywhere” wins Orpheus Award 2016

The album “Don’t Try This Anywhere” has won the Orpheus Award for 2016 – the best Italian production 2015 for jazz music.

The new album “Don’t Try This Anywhere” is out now

“Don’t Try This Anywhere”, recorded in New York City, Simone Zanchini, John Patitucci, Adam Nussbaum, Stefano Bedetti and Ratko Zjaca.

Ratko Zjaca, John Patitucci, Simone Zanchini, Stefano Bedetti, Adam Nussbaum

New album release with ZZ Quartet

A new album with original music titled “Beyond The Lines” from all members of the quartet is out now.

Info www.zz-quartet.com

Summer Tour 2013
Summer Tour 2013

Ratko Zjaca’s Mirabella Chambered Ten

A special 10-string fretted / fretless guitar.

After a successful collaboration in 2009 with the Mirabella Jazz Moderne Electric guitar, which Ratko used to record his last two albums, the great Cris Mirabella just finished a new, unique guitar for Ratko: the 2013 Ratko Zjaca Mirabella Chambered Ten signature model. This guitar was a special construction. An idea of Ratko Zjaca, which Cris Mirabella then put to design and applied to wood. The resulting guitar is a unique and exciting collaboration from these two artists.

Mirabella Chambered Ten

Album is out: Now and Then

Ratko and Miroslav Vitous

The Way We Talk: Album is out now

Ratko just released a new album with his new group with Simone Zanchini, Adam Nussbaum and Martin Gjakonovski.

Simone Zanchini, Martin Gjakonovski, Adam Nussbaum, Ratko Zjaca

Continental Talk

Continental Talk
John Patitucci, Steve Gadd, Ratko Zjaca, Randy Brecker and Stan Mitrovic

Crossing the Border

Crossing the Border
Ratko Zjaca, John Patitucci, Al Foster, Stan Mitrovic

A Day in Manhattan

A Day in Manhattan
Reggie Workman, Ratko Zjaca and Al Foster