WHO IS THIS GUY?!?!? Glenn Zottola: Miles Davis Remembered, Come Fly With Me, Getting Sentimental, Classic Arrangements, Too Marvelous For Words
by George W. Harris • October 29, 2015 •
One of the real joys of music is when you discover an artist who is a kindred spirit. Glenn Zottola is one of those guys you’re gonna love. He’s been around since Moby Dick was an anchovy, playing the tenor, alto and trumpet (!) as a sideman for the likes of Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee. Yeah, he can’t keep a steady job. He looks like he should be behind the counter at your local deli asking how much prosciutto you want. He’s a swing-to-bopper at heart, with a tone on all three instruments that is as soothing as a mint julep.
He got my attention last year with a tribute to Charlie Parker with Strings, and another tribute to Clifford Brown with Strings. How many artists today could pull THAT off?!? Now, he’s just released five, count ‘em, five new ones. Dig in!!!
The first one is Miles Davis Remembered, which must be an oldie as it includes Stan Getz/ts, Jimmy Raney/g, Hal McKusick/fl-cl, George Duvivier/b and Ed Shaughnessy/dr in supporting roles. This is a subtle session that spotlights the gentler and romantic side of The Dark Prince. Remember his famous quote that he never plays ballads in concerts because he likes them so much? This disc gives evidence. Whether on Harmon mute or with the horn open, Zottolla glows warm embers on “Jupiter” and “Spring Is Here” while the obscure “Beta Minus” is a major plus. Look for this one!
Come Fly With Me has Zottolla on the trumpet still, with big band and strings doing Rat Pack pleasures with the title track while he glows like a full moon on “Prisoner of Love.” The version of “God Bless The Child” is a throwback to the 60s Blood Sweat and Tears read, while the pasta fazool is simmering on “Volare.” A ton of fun here.
Getting Sentimental has Zottola delving into classic Hollywood and Broadway musicals. The mood is highly romantic here, while nostalgia in the wind on “Red Sails in the Sunset” while images of WWII are evoked during “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” and “Stardust.” A read of the lesser known “”Moonlight Becomes You” is a bel canto aria of passion. This guy’s a charmer!
Zottola switches to alto sax as he gets together with a hip orchestra to do some charts that were inspired by Frank Sinatra’s vintage years at Capitol Records. There’s a wonderfully moody read of “Angel Eyes” that has Zottolla’s alto caress the melody, while “Autumn in New York” and” Come Rain or Come Shine” are filled with yearning passion. He can swoon like Johnny Hodges on “Teach Me Tonight” and sound like he’s telling you a hard luck story on “Street of Dreams.” Lyricism at its best.
Speaking of the best, I saved the best for last, as Zottola on tenor sax is as close these days that you’ll get to hearing Lester Young, my friend. He’s with three different rhythm section s here, including luminaries such as Nat Pierce-Don Abney/p, Mundell Lower-Jimmy raney-Barry Galbraith/g, Milt Hinton-Oscar Pettiford-Wilbur Ware/b (where’d he find THESE guys?!?!?) and Osie Johnson-Kenny Clarke-Bobby Donaldson/dr. If you want to hear the definition of swing, start right here with “Three Little Words” and “Oh, Lady Be Good” where Zottolla takes his tenor and makes it flow like lava. The skies open on “Body and Soul” and a smoke ringed take of “You Go To My Head” is wonderfully remorseful. If the sound of the horn is more important than mindless chops, then this guy is your soul mate.