CJ 16 Glenn Zottola Too Marvelous for Words by Jazz Writer Nick Mondello
Going back to the Ancients, those who wrote – or verbally passed on – about Man were wise to have their subjects appear, act and react greater than life. Whether describing Gods or Heroes, the sagacious story-tellers knew that amplifying mortals was a way of garnering interest and inspiring listeners. When it is Glenn Zottola, this writer has no need for amplification or exaggeration. The guy is indescribably talented at a level that astonishes and leaves heads shaking 180. Not only is Zottola an ace trumpeter, having performed worldwide with Benny Goodman, Bob Wilber, and other jazz Pantheon residents, not only is he a superior sax man (as demonstrated here), the guy, completely self-taught, does it primarily by ear, brain and most of all – heart. He’s off the planet talent-wise. With “Too Marvelous for Words” Zottola grabs his tenor and sets off to superbly cover 10 GAS sides (performing with previously recorded rhythm section backing) that are absolutely beautiful, swinging, and as tasteful as anyone, be it Getz, Hamilton, Webster could deliver. He’s that good. Zottola’s sax sound is classic – restrained, baby-butt smooth and reeking of lyric love. I don’t know if he sings, but, the guy certainly “vocalizes” his melodies (and his solos, for that matter). It’s almost magnetic, especially if a listener would already know the lyrics. Are those words flowing from his axe? It’s a grand “Grand Illusion,” for sure. Furthermore, performing across already recorded material, an artist can be easily constrained to accommodate that which cannot accommodate him. Shrewdly, Zottola, ever the “ear-man,” is so in synch with the three different All-Star rhythm sections that, unless the liners indicated it, you’d never know it. Glenn Zottola’s “Too Marvelous for Words” certainly lives up to those words. Frankly, it’s another in a long line of examples of his being not one of us.