Ron Aprea

Ron is a great player and arranger he was with Lionel Hampton for many years.

I truly believe that you are a musical genius. How anyone can play alto, tenor, and trumpet on that level is mind boggling. You have no equals! A lot of great players, including my first teacher Bobby Tricarico, made a good living doing studio work. Bobby used to say “You wanna play jazz? Grow a beard and get an apartment in the Village.” Many of those cats were monster jazz players and nobody (other than a handful of musicians) knew who they were. I’m guessing you were in that elite group. And you made the right choice, but the jazz world suffered.

This is a friend and fan who unfortunately passed. She was around some of the great legends in jazz. It is this kind of heartwarming response that makes it all worth it.

Glenn- I’ve got some things that I think you should know. First of all I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and living with some greats of Jazz. Trane was so intense & could play so pretty with his ballads. Dexter was such a groover and played beautiful ballads. I knew him well. I could go on & on–but my point is you are as great a musician as any of them. You play with such passion & sweetness too on your ballads & then you really swing too. You were born with these talents & I’m sure you’ve worked your ass off practicing over the years. Lots of your passion comes from your Italian blood– I’m so serious about that. Plus I don’t know of anyone that plays 3 differant horns – all equally masterful. You are one of a kind.
I hope to God you win the Grammys. With all the talent that’s out now- you stand out as one of the greats. The young musicians try and play LIKE the greats of Jazz. You ARE one of the greats. I’ve never said these words to anyone before. I just wanted you to know how special you are.
You remind me of Philly Joe Jones– he grooved his ass off- but there was a prettiness in his playing. He is my favorite drummer. He use to stay at my house in LA when he was in town for a couple of years. George morrow too.
Anyway Glenn of course you should be on the Grammy Jazz committee, you know and play the real music called Jazz!
I’m so proud to know you.
Your Friend. Century

Another friend and Fan Century who unfortunately passed. She was around some of the great jazz legends. These kind of things warm my heart and make it all worth it.

Glenn- I’ve got some things that I think you should know. First of all I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and living with some greats of Jazz. Trane was so intense & could play so pretty with his ballads. Dexter was such a groover and played beautiful ballads. I knew him well. I could go on & on–but my point is you are as great a musician as any of them. You play with such passion & sweetness too on your ballads & then you really swing too. You were born with these talents & I’m sure you’ve worked your ass off practicing over the years. Lots of your passion comes from your Italian blood– I’m so serious about that. Plus I don’t know of anyone that plays 3 differant horns – all equally masterful. You are one of a kind.
I hope to God you win the Grammys. With all the talent that’s out now- you stand out as one of the greats. The young musicians try and play LIKE the greats of Jazz. You ARE one of the greats. I’ve never said these words to anyone before. I just wanted you to know how special you are.
You remind me of Philly Joe Jones– he grooved his ass off- but there was a prettiness in his playing. He is my favorite drummer. He use to stay at my house in LA when he was in town for a couple of years. George morrow too.
Anyway Glenn of course you should be on the Grammy Jazz committee, you know and play the real music called Jazz!
I’m so proud to know you.
Your Friend. Century

Zvonimir Tosic is a very knowledgable friend and fan Musician and Fine Artist who studied music in Europe. His insights into my playing is both heartwarming and enlightening. I never analyzed my playing being an ear player and I am including my dialogue with Zvonimir in this section.

Dear maestro Zottola,I just watched your video “My approach to playing Jazz by ear”.

I thought of writing this in a youtube comment, but decided to send you an email instead.
If you allow me to say, firstly, the episodes are splendid. Anyone lucky, and smart enough to listen to them, will learn a lot. But more to the point of your uniqueness as a musician. You showed us how Charlie Parker, Stan Getz and Clifford Brown played their solos, and your interpretation of all three. I think yours are *musically* better than any of those three.
You may think I’m exaggerating, but I shall explain why I think I’m not, but indeed, only stating a fact. 
All three musicians you quoted, play their solo parts because that is what they’ve used to play. However, you as a multi-instrumentalist, who played in various roles inside many big orchestras, have A. trained your ears to hear more, B. developed your character to be more cooperative with the rest of the band than any famed soloist, and C. then enriched your imagination to deliver more, especially in terms of — harmony. 
Your interpretations follow the melody roughly, they are sketchier than Parker’s, Stan’s, etc., but are immensely dense and complex in harmonic parts. None of the quoted musicians does that. That unique ability helps your playing to establish links with various parts of the orchestra. While Charlie Parker or Stan Getz would simply “float” on top of “the orchestral cushion”, and deliver melody which they then embellish, you play *both* the melody, and the harmony part, using an incredibly complex chromatic palette, that extends beyond a well embellished melody!  While it is possible for a good saxophonist to emulate Stan Getz playing in a certain music key, you, however, play inside, and also well *outside* the key, as if you were borrowing from parts (and phrases) played by *other instruments* in different tuning, or, filling in parts that other instruments should be playing, but those instruments aren’t really there. But you make them present. And all of that happens in real time. 
When I was analysing your play-along books, I noticed those incredibly complex excursions “outside the music key” of the melody of the piece, to weave a rich tapestry of tonality, using all chromatic notes (all the notes outside the key). I often said to myself, “Oh goodness me, this is so incredibly complex .. there are harmonic parts of other “invisible” instruments in this!” I think I’m correct in stating this. Because what you play is not mere embellishment of melody – you indeed play harmony too. 
Now that is quite something! Skilled guitar players may do that on an acoustic guitar, but on a saxophone? Goodness me! You, by far, are the most accomplished saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist I have ever heard in my life! Anyone who has any wits, should study how you play, which is unique, and more than what famed soloists on saxophones & trumpets delivered in the past. 
Hope you’re well, safe and healthy.
Kind regards,
Zvonimir Tosic

Dear Glenn,
The way you play those chromatic phrases (notes outside the key of the music piece) is revealing. You often play them legato (or connected, in a single breath; tonguing the first note and then merely flowing with other notes). That alone means you are not really working on melody alone (which would require more pronounced structure, more tonguing, or, holding onto the music key, because the music key makes the melody distinguishable and coherent). But you sketch around extra harmonic parts, actually, there are too many notes outside the scope of melody.  

So what are those notes, if not mere embellishment on melody?
If one sticks to jazz alone, one can’t answer this question. Your play-along books reveal the mystery, I think. The transcriptions of your solos are there, but when one looks at all the notes, and how the editors tried hard to figure out (quite literally!) which “chord progressions” you “were using” (by writing down the name of the chord above each measure or structure), the notation they’ve put for those “chords” .. makes no sense. 
They were overthinking it, really overcomplicating. Because you don’t play chord progressions at all. You improvise on harmony, and all the chromatic notes used to play improvisations, in theory only, they may “fit” into some obscure chord(s), but, that was not the point of your playing, and not the reason you played all those extra chromatic notes.
This is where a typical jazz player is facing a blank wall; those chord progressions in your music aren’t really progressions, but they are A. lyrical extensions of the melody, yes, and B. improvisation on extra harmony parts. 
You are in fact a classical player, and not a typical jazz player. Although jazz has become a genre, with certain structure of music, progressions, etc, you play so much extra on top and around it, that enables you to go outside of its confinement. You play chromatically, as if you were playing a few instruments in various tunings. 
For example, you play Bb tenor saxophone, and Eb alto saxophone. When you want to play C note on each, on tenor, C actually sounds like Bb concert, and C on alto sounds like Eb concert. You have a memory of both tunings in your ear, two different pitches, and when you wish to play something on Bb tenor that you remember from your alto playing, you remember the pitch, but you must shift the music key and must play in a different key on tenor, change the key on the fly, and then you return back. 
That was the reason I was confused with your tenor playing, when you interpret some songs not specifically made for tenor; the instrument sounded a lot like alto in those quick chromatic passages. Ordinary tenor players, like Stan Getz, would never play that, but you played it. You extended into the pitches that alto makes more easily, but which in the case of tenor playing, do not constitute melody any more (played by main instrument), but harmony (played by secondary instrument).
I wrote to you some time ago, that you do not sound like a typical jazz player, at all, and I think we know the answer why that is. You played in big orchestras, of 20+ players, surrounded by instruments in various tunings: straight trombones in C, pianos in C, tenor saxophones in Bb, alto saxophones in Eb, clarinets in Bb, trumpers in Bb, perhaps even horns in F, flutes in C, etc. For years you listened to all of that, and you remember the pitches. In a big band, each instrument supports the other, often through harmony, and when you wish to improvise as a soloist, you integrate some of that “support” by adding notes as if coming from a different instrument, but the notes fit well because the emphasis is on melody.
On the other hand, when a typical jazz player improvises like that on the melody, the result is often AWFUL, and cacophonic, because they work on artificial extension of melody, they shift keys to extend the melody alone, and produce awkward sounding nonsense. But you don’t do that.
For example, you do exactly what Beethoven does in his beautiful piano concerto:https://youtu.be/vvI9wG4_JTM?t=2005
If you listen the piano from this moment of the concerto, you will hear that all the extra notes piano is playing are not melodically required, nor are they really the extensions of the melody; the pianist’s left hand and the orchestra (even the violins) both play main melody of the movement, which is simple, but the extra arpeggios and legatos played with the right hand at a fast pace are harmonic extensions around the melody, that make the melody sound even better.  Again, thank you very much for your time, and for bearing my enthusiasm 🙂
Zvonimir 

Dear Glenn,
Sure. Here it is:This is piano concerto, so it is a sort of a dialogue between the piano and the orchestra. The theme (main melody line) is exchanged between the piano and the orchestra; at this particular moment, which is around 32:35min of the concert, the orchestra iterates the melody;
https://youtu.be/vvI9wG4_JTM?t=1955

– first all the strings- then the woodwinds, including the flute, oboe, etc- then the piano continues using the same melody line, but adds heaps more notes, which is not really the extension of the melody (as they wrongly teach us when it comes to improvisation), but because the orchestra is nearly silent then, the pianist is enriching of the melody with more harmonies (which all sound like extra sparkling notes around the melody), to compensate for the lack of flute, oboe, clarinets, etc. at that very moment.    Because our purpose in improvisation is not to butcher the melody (as people usually do), but to EMPHASIZE the melody by adding harmony lines around it, using chromatic notes (which can be outside the key of the melody), but they sound — harmonious. 
So your approach is classical because you respect the melody, but add extras, which are harmonics. On a piano it is much easier to do because it is a polyphonic instrument (many notes can play at the same time), but with the saxophone, you must (seemingly) interrupt the flow of the melody for a short while, then insert harmonies, then continue with the melody, then interrupt again to add harmonies, and so on. 
Now, your interruption of the melody with harmony is so good and invisible,  that it sounds just like a classical composer would do it because your inserted harmonies are indeed harmonies. What you learned in your youth, is part of you.
Hope this helps,Z

Dear Glenn,
Yes, let me show you your harmonies, and then the utter absurdity of notation using the chords, when dealing with complex (chromatic) playing. 
Your harmonic embellishments Say, your Stan Getz play-along book, song “Girl from Ipanema”; (page 11, measure 47, 48 and 499).The first line is your playing, and the second line below is the basic melody of the song by Jobim.  
In measure 49, while the original uses syllables in words as simple quavers (all the same repeating notes E, then D and F#); you, however, play legato (connected) quarters, and then a rapid succession of sixteenths in full chromatic scale, from E up to high F#. 
So, you see, you anchor yourself in the melodic beginning (note E) and in the melodic end (high F#), same notes that Jobim uses, but in between them, you play seven notes, not just one (Jobim only plays one note). With seven notes you add incredible dynamics in that part, and two out of those seven notes are outside the key of the melody (those two notes are A# and C#) A# and C# are not in the key of G (the music key of Jobim’s melody), but are outside of it, and that is why they are called “chromatic” – you borrowed them from the chromatic scale, and then did not use further. They were required for the harmonic improvisation in that part, so that a little slow and a bit repetitive part of the song sounds more exciting.
Then again, in measure 50, you don’t play simplistic F# then E, but instead you substitute F# with the rapid sixteenth notes F#-G-F#, which to our ears sound like F#, although there is a “quick G” in it. G alone would sound odd if played instead of F#, but wrapped inside two F#, it all sounds so much better. There, again, you extended F# harmonically (by just a semitone to G), and then returned back to F#, just to make it sound more exciting. 
Those are two examples of harmonic embellishments, which is a hallmark of your playing. You do it so well, with taste and dignity, and totally respecting the major principles and main anchor notes of the melody.
The absurdity of chord notations Now, when we have such embellishments of yours, done according to your feelings during your playing, writing chords to “describe” them is like putting the cart before the horse. Say, editors wrote for the measure 50: (D7 b5). That id D7 chord with a flat 5th, which means notes: D, F#, G#, C .. it’s ridiculous, because your G# was so short and pure embellishment. Structurally, it is not important because it is not in the melody!
I have never seen chord notation in classical music. Let’s open any score by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven etc., you won’t find any chord notations there. I only encountered it when I read jazz music sheets and I was puzzled. Then I figured out, that chord notations were used for several reasons: first jazz musicians could not read music notation at all, they all learned to play by ear, and could remember notes in the scales on the piano. Then, when they heard a song, they would write down chord names, one after another, (but not regular music notation for chord structure — only chord names), and that succession of chord names, one by one, would give them “a general idea” of the harmonic and melodic structure of the song. 
That’s the first problem; chords alone do not preserve the originality of the song, but allow endless skewing of it, to the point of no recognition – the melody can be so skewed that nobody knows what was the original! However, proper music notation preserves everything, the rhythm, the tempo, all accents, exact note durations, harmonics, counterpoints etc, and that is why classical music is so beautiful, and performed the same as Bach or Mozart composed it. Because it’s written down exactly. (Of course, there are parts in classical music that can be improvised upon, but composers who wrote exact notation, would also note where improvisation is possible.
Back to your books: writing “chords” on top of full score in proper notation, is nonsensical, because you already improvised!  Chords could be given in advance, if you worked roughly on some new song, and then given a task “work around these progressions, and figure out what kind of melody could be interesting”. That is proper use of chords, especially on a guitar, or on the piano, where a musician can play with chords to construct a new song.
But not a variation on an already existing, well-known song; that makes no sense.
Hope this attempt of mine somewhat answers the question!
Thank you so much for your time and patience!
Zvonimir

Hope this helps!

Dear Glenn,
Yes, Stan Getz does the same, or similar, but he also interferes into the melody, especially when he does concerts and then plays songs that he recorded once for an album that was very popular.What that means, is that players like Getz also intervenes into the structure of the song; when one changes the entire key of the song, well, that is not exactly the same song anymore — it is an experiment based on song. Remember the piano concerto I referenced yesterday? Imagine that concerto played in a different key? It would sound nothing like Beethoven imagined; it is in a certain key because of the exact mood and feeling; change the key, and the feeling is changed, the mood is gone. But a Romanticist composer like Beethoven is concerned about exact and intense feelings, which contain a certain message! So, you see, I personally can tolerate experiments to a certain extent, because experimenting in classical European tradition is allowed A) for the sake of learning, B) composing new songs using some interesting phrases from existing songs, or C) new variations on the song (which then changes the authorship), but not performing the existing songs that became popular and loved because of the exact key, rhythm, and the intent of the author. 
Say this sublime piece, filled with sadness and melancholy (Adagio from Concerto di Aranjuez); change the key from minor to major, and shift it around the circle of fifths, and it becomes pathetic!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbV9t6U2IIg

Dear Glenn,

Yes, that jazz pianist was mostly correct; you already know the melodies of the songs, you heard them performed so you also know how harmony extensions can be done depending on the exact setup of the orchestra. Say, if you play in a quartet, you may need more harmonic additions than in an octet, because other players will fill it up. Playing in larger orchestras can be more rewarding because all people get to play, and one player won’t exhaust himself doing impossible acrobatics to keep the listeners attentive all the time.
Chords are used for constructing the song from scratch; like quick sketching. Once the song is constructed and polished up, chords are not necessary and could be forgotten. They are like scaffolds on the building; once the building is constructed, scaffolds are not necessary to keep it in place because the structure is already there.
The chords, of course, is playing of at least three notes in unison. Piano can do it, guitar can do it too, organ, etc. The saxophone can’t play three notes at once; sax can play them in succession, one after another – but that is NOT music. Because, what do those notes inside one chord mean? By definition that comes from the classical music, each note in a chord represents one human voice timbre; the bass male voice, tenor male voice, alto female voice, soprano female voice etc. Originally, all music was vocal, then instrumental. Now, several chords alone do not tell how melody goes exactly, nor the possible harmony, because chord changes are usually done once or twice per measure, although the measure – in real performance – may have 3, 4, 8, 12, etc. different articulations and changes of one particular human voice, which decides to play a certain melody.
Therefore, the music is far more complex than chords; with chords we only say, “we’ll use four main voices, and the soprano will do melody in one part while alto, tenor and bass do the harmonic support there, but then, we can silence bass and alto, and leave tenor and soprano, etc”. That means, one really must write all exact changes for each voice, each note, duration, each pause, etc. The exact music is then written for each voice. That is how the music is composed usually.
1. choosing the voices (chord structure)2. roughing out (sketching out) major directions, and basics of melody and possible harmony – that is chord progression.3. nuancing each voice, which is melodic and harmonic nuancing
I’m writing all this also to remind myself from time to time. …Thank you very much!

Dear Glenn,

yes, you are correct. When jazz players play with strings, it is the strings and the orchestra that tame and define the structure of the song, making a nice arrangement for all instruments. Then a jazz soloist comes to play on top of all that. A very large orchestra can’t play by ear, and players can’t read everybody’s body language: improvisation is impossible with symphonic and larger bands. Everything they do must be well rehearsed. 
With Charlie Parker, strings and the orchestra thus prepared, lead the melody part, softly, spreading a broad cushion for a soloist to improvise.
It is not much different at all from, for example, clarinet concertos, violin concertos, trumpet or similar concertos. People don’t know this, they don’t teach them this in schools, but the soloists who perform in front of the orchestra, do not always follow sheet music. They too improvise (on harmony, but not on melody), add ornamentations, subtract them, etc. The composers of such work would leave in, deliberately, places within the composition where the soloists are given freedom.
Harmonic improvisation and ornamentation around the melody started to be vogue in Baroque music, and is preserved ever since. There are very fine tutorials on ornamentations, and some composers, like Georg P. Telemann (one of the most famous composers of all times), himself wrote tutorials on how to improvise and ornament playing. He constructed exercises with increasing amounts of complexity, and when and in what context to choose certain solutions (to add variety to repeating phrases, to end certain phrases, etc). Improvisations also varied from place to place (Italian, German, French, etc.). 
Roughly speaking, there are two types of improvisations or ornamentations: 1. passaggi and 2. graces.1. Passaggi means adding extra (chromatic) notes to the established melody to increase its dynamics. Something like a set of very quick seven of 1/16 notes in bars 47-49 of your Girl from Ipanema (we discussed this earlier). 2. Graces are adding ornamentation to the existing notes; for example, in your Girl From Ipanema, an example of grace is that F#; Jobim wrote it, and you played it as a quick legato F#-G-F#.
All of these can be rhythmic, when the notes are specially emphasized, say, for dance.
There are some nice books out there on ornamentation and improvisation on the music of Baroque, and onwards. Some of them:
— Ornamentation in Baroque and Post-Baroque Music: With Special Emphasis on J.S. Bach
https://www.amazon.com/Ornamentation-Baroque-Post-Baroque-Music-Emphasis/dp/0691027072/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?dchild=1&keywords=The+Ornamentation+of+Baroque+telemann&qid=1600419259&s=books&sr=1-1-fkmr0

– The Ornamentation of Baroque Music: A Guide for Independent Embellishinghttps://www.amazon.com/Ornamentation-Baroque-Music-Manfredo-Zimmermann/dp/3739231971/ref=pd_lpo_14_t_2/140-8733774-9723455?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=3739231971&pd_rd_r=7bdc84e0-3372-4ab9-9fbc-77ac93184fbb&pd_rd_w=AVRum&pd_rd_wg=DSFAc&pf_rd_p=7b36d496-f366-4631-94d3-61b87b52511b&pf_rd_r=3NBH0EAR97MQZBN9C4ZN&psc=1&refRID=3NBH0EAR97MQZBN9C4ZN

Kind regards,Zvonimir

No ornamentation is just ornamentation; it is improvisation, because it is contextual and can differ each time. Because they are mostly harmonic additions, they are indeed new lines added to the song.
Depending on the type of orchestra, number of players, the repertoire etc. improvisation is decided upon. The difference I see in your playing is that you totally follow the classical approach to improvisation, which emphasises new harmonic lines. Early jazz players did the same, or similar, because they got songs written by many composers who immigrated from Europe to the USA. They were hanging out together, giving instructions, writing songs for living.While some other players improvised by carving into the melody, and rhythm, and mood, and recomposing it (say, Coltrane) which is a tricky job that often yields disaster.
But .. many people thought that is the purpose of ‘jazzing” — abstract expressionism.
Zvonimir

On 18 Sep 2020, at 21:04, Glenn Zottola <glennzottola@gmail.com> wrote:

I looked at the forward of the books you mention wonderful. Yes i love ornamentation and “embellishments” as i call it and the original instructions from my dad on how to play jazz “just embellish the melody like Louie” is the basis of all my playing until you introduced your analysis. How does ornamentation of embellishment relate to your description of my playing using the Beethoven piano concerto as an example or is that something different than just ornamentation and embellishment ?

I love Barry Harris great player and very knowledgeable ! He did a master class on “Giant Steps” which was amazing. He said he doesn’t like the song (the holy grail of modern jazz) and demonstrated how he would approach it melodically. 

On Sep 18, 2020, at 7:29 AM, Zvonimir Tosic <zvonimir.tosic@gmail.com> wrote:Dear Glenn,
Thank you for telling me such valuable stories. Indeed, the life of music often springs from such inspirations and sheets found somewhere.I myself have copied heaps of sheets, including an operetta for parts for Bb instruments, etc.
I listened to Barry Harris, the jazz pianist, who says that what we know about many jazz standards, may not be quite true. In other words, that they were not written by people whom we attribute their origin. He tells that from the structure of songs, and from his own experience from working in the field, he suspects many songs to have originated from teachers of music from Europe, who migrated to the USA, especially in between two wars. Those were decades when it was nearly impossible to compose in Europe, or have any cultural life there. But it thrived in the USA.
Teachers would compose songs quite according to long-established rules, and then would write down heping notes to the American musicians how to perform them, and then the jazz players would do that, and improvise. In return, they’d get some pennies for food, clothing, etc. I can imagine that ‘Pennies from Heaven’ is not given such a name for nothing!
Zvonimir

On Fri, 18 Sep 2020 at 21:12, Glenn Zottola <glennzottola@gmail.com> wrote:
wow i guess all that early exposure to classical music with my dad seeped in. I know Gil Evans who my dad knew very well as they were both arrangers on the Claude Thornhill band  used to have Miles Davis , Gerry Mulligan and others over his apartment after their gigs on 52nd street and play classical music for them. Charlie Parker carried around the scores to The Rite Of Spring and Petrouska. Speaking of that when my dad was studied arranging his professor received the score to Petrouska that was smuggled in from Russia. My dad was what they call an “autographer” meaning his handwriting was perfect all the bar lines perfectly straight etc. He was given the assignment to copy all the parts from the score by his professor and after 3 tries he got a pass and those parts were sent to make plates for printing the music !!

On Sep 18, 2020, at 7:04 AM, Zvonimir Tosic <zvonimir.tosic@gmail.com> wrote:Yes, it does qualify.What wanted to state all along, is that your  improvised music draws back from an old tradition, from best composers and players world has seen. You are in that same tradition. 

Thank you.Zvonimir

Dear GlennPlease see attached an excerpt from the partitura (music sheets) by G. Telemann, one of the most prolific composers ever. Written way back in 1728, it is one of the guides for performers how to interpret the melody, see the possibilities, and lift it all up to a higher aesthetic and virtuosic expression.
I have emphasised in yellow all lines with Telemann’s own interpretation of the basic melody that runs above.  Same as with transcriptions of your solos on top of Jobim’s basic melody, this one too is full of improvisations. This piece, for example, is in Bb-Major, but if you look at improvisations line, notes used there come from the entire chromatic scale.  The book I took the excerpt from, with Telemann’s own guides to improvisation (as he notes, “The way I would play it”) is here:
https://www.henle.de/en/detail/?Title=Methodische+Sonaten+für+Flöte+oder+Violine+und+Continuo%2C+Band+I_1266

He wrote this guide for flute, or violin, on top of lines for bass continuo (which is baroque rhythm + basic harmonic arrangement section).
Kind regards, 
Zvonimir

telemann.png

On 18 Sep 2020, at 20:51, Glenn Zottola <glennzottola@gmail.com> wrote:

Thank you but does this kind of traditional jazz playing I did in this period of my life when I worked with Benny Goodman and Bob Wilber and other swing artists qualify for what you are describing so beautifully as my “classical approach” using harmony and melody and embellishments ?

Dear Glenn,
When I go online, and see millions of views and thousands of blind/repetitive accolades about totally boring performances by famed saxophonists (who are not great musicians at all), .. and then see just a dozen of views on your stellar playing .. I am saddened.   But then, I say to myself, it is better to be appreciated by a handful of wise men, than by the thousands of ignorant and tonally deaf. Thank you for all your efforts, and all time given to future generations, and especially for your play-along books!  

Kind regards,
Zvonimir Tosic

This response from Zvonimir truly rewarding was based on my recording “try a little the tenderness” with strings which is on this website in another section. I asked him if this kind of playing fell into the earlier category of his analysis on my improvisation regarding classical approach etc.

Dear Glenn 
Goodness me, this is breathtakingly beautiful ! I must listen to it a dozen more times, to get my head around details… 
Thank you for proving my initial impression when I first heard your saxophone playing; you are a genius. 
Thank you maestro.
Zvonimir

Dear Glenn, Of course, it’s the same approach. Let’s say, that is your philosophy regardless of content, but your delivery may depend on your intent and demand of the audience.
In this beautiful track, you opted for a slow release of emotions, which fits the atmosphere of slow dance / nightclub two step dance for example. So your tones are extended and beautiful, and when needed, you add harmonies as occasional smiles (faster passages) in the conversation on the dance floor.
So in this approach, I would say that your playing is both singing and playing; it is as if you sing first with a human voice on the saxophone, then play an instrument after it to give it some rest; then the voice comes in again, and so on. Ben Webster often opts for more singing quality, that is, if the song is not singable, he is not interested in playing it; he is not at all interested in showing skills that people can’t dance to and immerse all their body and soul. Because he often played slow ballads in quartets or quintets, then other instruments would take a different voice and he’d hand it over, waiting for his turn. It is beautiful, classically American, ballad playing.  
And of course, slow ballads aren’t ‘Queen of the Night’ jumpy operatic themes full of harmonics that only a handful of people may sing, if at all. So even when you speed up a little, you leave an open end to it, those notes often merely begin and then disappear .. we have to guess them, rather than listen to them as if demanded by force on our ears.
That quality of such harmonisation is exceedingly difficult. Players like Brecker can’t do it (of course, he is a different genre, but even then). Coltrane can’t do it. Dexter can’t do it in a million years. Parker can, but he plays songs one can’t dance to. Getz can do it, but not with such effortless ease; he still works in clearly defined, more extended sections; faster – slower – faster. Lester Young can do it, but he does not emphasise those expanding and contracting emotions as well as you, but that may be because of the wholly different times and demands of the audience; 1940s and 50s were quite different times; the impact of WW2 was damaging, and those musicians had to heal people’s spirit with a good dose of positive sing and dance.
Ta, Z

Glenn Zottola and Zoot Sims with Teddy Wilson , Milt Hinton and Gus Johnson.

Zoot Sims , Glenn Zottola , Teddy Wilson , Milt Hinton and Gus Johnson. I was very young and all the guys were 45 years my elders but you would never know it from the intensity of the band.This was recorded by someone in the audience so the sound quality is not great but you can certainly hear the energy. I felt Like I was at “Jazz At The Philharmonic”. Zoot was one of the great swingers of all time or as Milt Hinton called him “the salt of the earth” !

Elkhart Jazz Festival 1991

This is a classic jam session format which you might not see in this day and age let me explain. I was leading a quintet at the Elkhart Jazz Festival and I had the great Red Hollyway on alto and tenor and the great Butch Miles in the band. Frank Foster was on the bill leading the Basie band. When Frank finished his set he came in to hear my set. I saw him in the audience and invited him up on stage. Here is what occurred from the inside on this tune. I played the first solo on trumpet then Red on Alto. When Red and Frank started trading at the end of the tune I got inspired so picked up my alto and Red put down his alto and grabbed his tenor so you have 3 saxophone’s trading Frank on tenor , Red on tenor and me on alto. Then I switch back to trumpet to take the tune out !!

Glenn Zottola Signature Trumpet Mouthpiece

I am very proud that RS Berkeley has released a copy of my trumpet mouthpiece, the “Glenn Zottola Trumpet Mouthpiece” as part of their their “Legend Series” now available at select retailers around the world. By the way I was with my dad as a young boy in those New England Woods that day as this story tells. You can hear the quality of the sound of this mouthpiece with this track from my Clifford Brown tribute album.

Memories of You

The story behind the mouthpiece
In 1952, while walking through a quiet New England woods Frank Zottola came upon a smoothly flowing stream. Subconsciously, his musician’s ear noticed that it was producing a dark and diffused tonal quality. As he wandered along a little further where periodic rock obstructions on the stream’s bed interrupted the water’s flow creating turbulence, he became aware of the increase in brilliance and a compactness of sound. When the stream finally broke into a waterfall, crashing on the descending steps, the pitch, intensity and volume reached its maximum. At that moment, he had a realization that this natural phenomenon could be extended to a practical application in mouthpiece design. He believed that a stepped back-bore design might very well be what contemporary brass players have been searching for to solve their problem of ever increasing range and endurance demands.

I used my dad’s mouthpiece my entire career. I loved the way his patented “step back bore” assisted the upper register.  In 1979 I went to him and asked for some slight modifications. I wanted the same ease in the upper register that the step back bore gave me but with no resistance and a very free blow for a very fat sound.  He worked on this and came up with a modification to the tunnel leading into the back bore. The result was spectacular and exactly what I wanted.  He stamped it January 1979.  This became my signature sound for the rest of my career and was not available in his standard line.  My dad  was a beautiful man and master mouthpiece maker and was loved by all.   I would like to thank Les Silver and RS Berkeley for helping me to pay tribute to my dad Frank Zottola with the release of this mouthpiece.

You can buy it online at Amazon or at RS Berkeley dealers around the world or call 1-800-974-3909

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Glenn Zottola Syos Signature Tenor Mouthpiece.

I worked Closely with Pauline Eveno as I needed something unique in a tenor mouthpiece for a album I was doing with my Grammy friend Ricky Kej in India. It had to blend with a Indian singer and have a clarity and intonation to match. Pauline and her team achieved that beautifully. Listen to this track from the album.

Angelic Tears

Glenn Zottola plays Syos

Syos mouthpieces with their ease of playing , intonation and response allow a player to take attention off the equipment which is the goal and create with freedom. Many thanks to Pauline Eveno and the whole team for their incredible cutting edge work in the field of mouthpieces design.

Glenn Zottola is a multi-instrumentalist and musical savant, and has been heralded as the greatest brass and reed doubler in jazz history, playing both trumpet and saxophone at an equal level.

His stylistic spectrum stretches across a wide range, having played with Lionel Hampton , Benny Goodman, Zoot Sims ,Phil Woods, Gerry Mulligan all the way to Chick Corea and his career over the last 5 decades reads like a Who’s Who of jazz. He has recorded over 60 albums and was the bandleader on the Suzanne Somers Television Show at Universal Studios with his own jazz quartet.

Glenn has also performed with luminaries such as Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra , Mel Torme, Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Williams. Glenn also has been nominated for the National Endowment Of The Arts Award in Washington D.C, one of the top honors in the arts.

Zoot Sims

These posts are coming from my website now. Zoot was not a man of many words he let his playing do the talking which I think is refreshing especially in this day and age. He was doing a clinic and doing everything right playing with the band etc. At the end of the session the music director in desperation because Zoot had not said anything just played and he says “Zoot we are coming to the end of the session there must be something you would like to tell the kids”. Zoot turns around and say’s “come on guys just play better ”. The guys I came up with didn’t talk that much about music but they certainly played and that is where I got it all. The bandstand was my college !

Glenn Zottola “Cottontail”

It is so heartwarming having great players like Terry Gibbs , Lew Tabackin and Ron Aprea compliment me. Most of the great players I admired and made me who I am musically and kept me going are gone now. This is my first pro session in Manhattan. I just moved there as a very young lad and was kind of the new kid in town and playing at a jazz club on 54th street Eddie Condon’s. A record producer Harry Lim who used to work for Keynote records and did some very famous sessions came in and said I like your playing would like to do a session for me. I said sure he didn’t tell what it was just when and where to show up. He started his own record label Famous Door and I ended up doing a dozen albums or more for him. I walk in the session and my jaw drops who is there John Bunch , George Mraz , Mousey Alexander , Phil Wilson and Al Klink ! No rehearsal NY energy at it’s best sink or swim !!

Glenn Zottola “My Life In Jazz” Charlie Parker with Strings Re-Visited – Final Episode 26

Glenn Zottola Charlie Parker with Strings Revisited Review by Nick Mondello

Musical genius has little regard for boundaries, whether those limits are stylistic, tempo, ensemble format, or, in this example, historical precedent. Expanding on that hypothesis, when an artist such as Glenn Zottola steps into the impossible-to-wear musical Florsheims of Charlie Parker, as he does so effortlessly here, he risks everything in a zero-sum game of musical Russian roulette. The emulation is a Herculean task, a pas de deux with the Devil fraught with musical and possible critical peril. Here, Zottola, a multi-instrumentalist and musical savant if there ever was one, places himself in a musical Lion’s Den and performs his personal stylistic renderings of Parker’s classic string sessions of 1949 and 1950. The result is a portrait of both Parker’s enormous abilities and impact on jazz to this day and also Zottola’s incredible ability to perform brilliantly at such a level of precision and artistry. The recording features Zottola playing nine cuts from Bird’s epic Mercury Records sessions along with impeccable orchestral transcriptions of the original Jimmy Carroll and Joe Lipman arrangements. If that weren’t enough of a feat, Zottola plays here entirely by ear and sans sheet music. Shrewdly, Zottola does not “cop” Parker’s original improvisations. He doesn’t have to. His interpretations are musically rich, inventive and, while they shade Parker’s style and technique, they are obviously not an attempt to play Bird’s licks. One gets the immediate impression that Zottola could do that if he foolishly so desired. He’s that good getting around the horn. There’s a very famous photograph, a close-up of Bird’s fingers gingerly grasping his alto in an almost amorous manner as his musical magic poured out. I’d bet the house that Glenn Zottola probably holds his axe in a similar way since the result here is the same.

Glenn Zottola “My Life In Jazz” Playing In Big Bands – Episode 25

Glenn Zottola  “Come Fly With Me”  review by Jazz Writer Nick Mondello

As portrayed in Chuck Granata’s fascinating “fly-in-the-studio” book, “Sessions with Sinatra – Frank Sinatra and the Art of Recording” (A Cappella Books/Chicago Review Press, 2004) the Master would always enter the studio ready to record with a fervent desire to nail first takes. The orchestra, whether under the baton of Nelson Riddle, Gordon Jenkins, “Q,” et al, would have been rehearsed and collectively primed for the business at hand.

With “Come Fly with Me,” trumpeter Glenn Zottola takes a rather unique turnaround of the Sinatra session routine. He has brilliantly prepped and recorded over magnificent session material which was culled from the enormous vault of Irv Kratka’s Classic Jazz Records. The result is an exquisite display of musicianship, preparation and trumpeting chops of which OBE, who certainly knew his trumpet men (i.e., Conrad Gozzo, Charlie Turner, Harry James, and Count Basie’s Guys) would be proud.

The 10 well-known GASser selections (“Come Fly with Me,” “How High the Moon,” “Come Back to Me”) – most of them recorded at one time by Sinatra (but not Frank’s arrangements, in case you might ask) – feature Zottola’s lush horn blowing and swinging over terrific charts performed by top-tier New York studio types. Their skill, combined with Zottola’s marvelous lyrical playing (“People,” “Come Back to Me”) is enthralling and vividly reminiscent of a time when art emanated from soundstages. This effort certainly falls into that designation. One would not be off-base if a memory is jogged of those wonderful Jackie Gleason sides that featured Bobby Hackett spinning melodies from his Angelic-speaking cornet. Zottola is that good.

To prepare one’s self to record in any environment is a daunting task. However, a pre-recorded environment of this caliber? That takes chutzpah. Yet, Zottola, obviously savant-like – blends so seamlessly into the material that if I weren’t aware of the methodology, I would not have discerned it. You won’t, either.

Enjoy “Come Fly with Me.” This jet is under Glenn Zottola’s able command and Frank is seated in First Class. That’s him with headphones on. Gee, why is he smiling?

Glenn Zottola “My Life In Jazz ” Miles Davis – Episode 24

Review By NICHOLAS F. MONDELLO in All About Jazz August 4, 2015

Views A young musician’s mind can be so very impressionable, so capable and available to lock onto a recording, a phrase or texture and hold it. The effect is almost nuclear—one note, perfectly placed by the performer and into a young listener’s ear, can set into play a chain of music-driven events that can spawn professional careers, if not a lifelong interest in the art. Such was-and is—the case with trumpeter and multi-instrumentalist, Glenn Zottola. A phenomenon in his own right. With Miles Remembered Zottola, as he did with his prior tribute recordings of Clifford Brown, Stan Getz and Charlie Parker (all superb, by the way), Zottola offers a salute to another of his early childhood influences—Miles Davis. And, this effort is terrific. Incorporating and recording in two accompaniment formats—a sextet and a full orchestra (both of which were previously recorded and plucked like gems mined from the exhaustive Classic Jazz Records vault), Zottola’s complete focus here shades and genuflects to Davis and his classic Prestige and early Gil Evans/Columbia period. It’s the best of all jazz worlds—great GAS material (“This Heart of Mine,” “I Cover the Waterfront,” “My Funny Valentine), highly-expressive improv, and trumpet wizardry. Throughout the recording, Zottola demonstrates a beautiful sound, great technique and deep, musically sincere affection for Davis and this celebrated period. He wisely avoids any Miles Davis classics, direct playing imitation, or “Miles licks.” Zottola doesn’t have to; he’s an Ace player with a great sound and jazz touch (“Just You, Just Me,” “Beta Minus”). But, as any jazz trumpeter worth his valve oil would, the Davis influences on Zottola percolate effortlessly from the recesses of his mind and out the end of both his Harmon-muted or open horn. A word about the accompaniment; as one would expect of Davis, Zottola or any performing great, the accompaniment here is A-1, swings and frames the front man fine. Zottola’s overdubbing onto the support of Jimmy Raney, Stan Getz, Ed Shaugnessy and also the All-Star orchestra is dead-on. This is not karaoke or recorda-me, by any means. While Miles Davis was a constantly evolving jazz entity over many decades, with Miles Remembered Glenn Zottola ‘scopes a robust Davis period and in doing so does one of his idols -and himself -most proud. Track Listing: This Heart of Mine; I’ll Be Seeing You; Jupiter; I Cover the Waterfront; Spring Is Here; Beta Minus; Autumn in New York; Just You, Just Me; My funny Valentine; Sunday. Personnel: Glenn Zottola: trumpet; Jimmy Raney: guitar; Stan Getz: tenor saxophone; Hal McCusick: flute, clarinet; George Duvivier: bass; Ed Shaughnessy; unidentified string orchestra. Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Classic Jazz Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream

Glenn Zottola “My Life In Jazz” The Great American Songbook – Episode 23

Glenn Zottola “Getting Sentimental” Review by Jazz writer Nick Mondello.

Our culture – and within that one of its bedrocks, our music – is in somewhat of a topsy-turvy, push-the-envelope-to-the-extremes flux. What excites or tempts, even repulses irrespective of good taste, is attractive and what formerly passed as beauty is bad toast. If it’s not “hot,” it’s not. The music in “Getting Sentimental,” from trumpeter Glenn Zottola is the antipodal musical pole from entertainment icons and hit-makers such as “twerker,” Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga (actually a homonym from the Italian meaning to defecate) and hip-hopper, Nicky Minaj (no talent, therefore no comment deserved), et al. His is an offering of exquisite taste, talent and beauty that is a throwback to days when talent and taste trumped exposed or undulating body parts – what author, Tom Wolfe once told me they were like “glistening giblets.” This is simply a gorgeous recording reminiscent of the classic 1960s Bobby Hackett-Jackie Gleason collaborations. Brilliantly covering nine Great American Songbook ballad standards and performing them over lush material drawn from Irv Kratka’s Classic Jazz treasures, Zottola’s lush trumpet and singing style is hypnotically sensuous. I’d swear that there is a Sinatra, a Bennett, or a Hartman hiding in that horn of his. His playing approach values melody over technique – although, rest assured he has plenty of that – and beauty over finger-wiggling. There are very obvious shades of the great Clifford Brown here and Zottola’s sound is Grand, as in “Canyon.” Post-modernists and “millennials” that have only been exposed to “entertainers,” as opposed to artists, could learn a valuable musical lesson here. This is brilliance and beauty in music. And, it is offered by a gifted performer being at his best. Perhaps on Grammy® night the “twerkers” and hip-hoppers might get to the stage first. That is, of course, if the presenters don’t hand out the awards in reverse alpha order. “Getting Sentimental” is that deserving.

Glenn Zottola “My Life In Jazz” with Frank Sinatra Episode 22

Glenn Zottola Plays Classic Arrangements Review By Nick Mondello

The arranger’s task is a multi-dimensional one. He/she must develop an aural landscape that – as one certainly would for a great work of art – frame the subject appropriately, while never being so ornate as to distract or misrepresent. The greatest of arrangers, especially those who worked with Frank Sinatra – Nelson Riddle, Gordon Jenkins, Quincy Jones, Billy May and others – also had the knack to present material which stimulates the soloist, urging him or her on and effectively simultaneously challenging artist and musicians. Ennui and complacency – whether actual or perceived – are the arrangers’ Satans and Hell on earth for musical artists. With this superior and fascinating effort, multi-instrumentalist Glenn Zottola brazenly places himself in the “Sinatra spotlight,” performing a baseball team’s worth of Sinatra-affiliated tunes (“Teach Me Tonight,” “Angel Eyes,” “Street of Dreams”). Each selection was inspired by the actual arrangements and was impeccably transcribed – and performed same. It’s brilliant all around. Zottola’s alto saxophone is a classic one – a throwback to when sonic beauty trumped technical wizardry and when melody reigned supreme. This is a lush, elegant send-up of the highest order. Zottola is a melody marvel, possessing that unique, indescribable element that only occurs when what is written on staff paper flows through the performer’s heart and soul and becomes a “feeling,” a “touch,” a “memory,” or “picture” in the listener’s mind. It’s magic, and Zottola has the wand with which to make it here. Voila!

Glenn Zottola “My Life In Jazz” Classic Standards with Strings Inspired by Ben Webster – Episode 21

Glenn Zottola Classic Standards with Strings Inspired by Ben Webster Review by Jazz Writer Nick Mondello

Jazz Legends Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young and Ben Webster are rightfully considered the Swing Era’s Pantheon of the tenor saxophone. It is from that glorious rock-solid foundation of the jazz tree that yet-to-come tenor greats such as Stan Getz, John Coltrane and others blossomed. The influence of the tenor triumvirate on those who followed them was enormous – Hawkins improvisational genius exemplified in the still-examined “Body and Soul,” Young’s suave and silky-smooth cool melodic and improvisational approach and Webster’s sensually breathy balladic and hard-swinging up-tempo interpretations. With “Classic Standards with Strings – Inspired by Ben Webster,” multi-instrumentalist Glenn Zottola, yet again musically validates his worldwide reputation as both an insightful and highly expressive musical artist. Here he grabs his tenor and brilliantly delivers a dozen of the Great American Songbook’s most melodic and romantic jewels. The result is an aural masterpiece of tone, melodic passion, and lyric sensitivity. Webster was a large man who was nicknamed “Brute.” However, his breathy entrances and tonal sensitivities belied the moniker. Zottola, who shrewdly doesn’t mime Webster’s sound or articulation here and who certainly isn’t brutish in any way – musically or otherwise – renders all of the smoothness and sensitivity that both the esteemed material and his mentor deserve. Working exclusively with the greatest of balladic material (“Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man,” “Laura,” “Embraceable You”) and backed by a lush string orchestra and superior arrangements, the recording is reminiscent of the great Jackie Gleason sides – you know, when music was about elegance, romance and class. Zottola, first and foremost a melody man, takes this classic material and literally breathes interpretive life into it. His reserved dynamic feel and vocal-tinged vibrato are a case study in lyricism and stellar ballad playing (“Where or When?” “Yesterdays,” and “Stardust”). When he covers the melody, Zottola gives the marvelous illusion of singing via his horn. And, his well-thought out improvisations all gravitate from a melodic core. The entire effort is a rapturous dream. Ben Webster is still revered worldwide and especially in Denmark where there is a street named after him (as well as a foundation that awards scholarships to young jazzers). However, I’m dead-certain that when the Danes get a hold of this effort from Glenn Zottola, they might consider getting a second street sign ready for another superb tenor man.

Glenn Zottola “My Life In Jazz” The Bossa Nova Story Stan Getz and Jobim – Episode 20

Glenn Zottola: The Bossa Nova Story, Glenn Zottola, Salutes Stan Getz review By EDWARD BLANCO in All About Jazz June 6, 2014 6683 Views

Trumpeter and saxophonist Glenn Zottola has been a serious part of the music business for more than four decades, recording over 50 albums as a sideman and leader as well as adding Broadway and TV show musician to his resume. In 2014, Zottola decided to embark on the tribute circle recording a series of homage albums for the Classic Jazz Records label such as (Clifford Brown Remembered (Classic Jazz Records, 2014), Reflections of Charlie Parker (Classic Jazz Records, 2014) and now, The Bossa Nova Story, Glenn Zottola, Salutes Stan Getz. The album is a combine tribute to Getz’s involvement in the bossa nova, the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Brazilian jazz in general. The result of course, is a warm and beautiful portrait of the bossa style from the perspective of the tenor saxophone and the everlasting influence Stan Getz left on the music. The world first learned of the samba and bossa nova from the 1959 film Black Orpheus by French director Marcel Camus where the original sound track had a Luiz Bonfa composition “Manha de Carnival” represented on this album as simply “Black Orpheus.” The album starts off with the Orpheus song led by a gorgeous introduction from Argentinian guitarist Marcelo Berestovoy leading to Zottola’s masterful solos on the piece. There have been many interpretations of Jobim’s signature piece, “The Girl from Ipanema” but somehow, Zottola’s Getz’s impersonation, along with Tom Hartman’s string arrangements, elevates this one to elite status. On the fiftieth anniversary of this classic and the twentieth anniversary of Jobim’s passing, this seemed a perfect inclusion to The Bossa Nova Story. The Getz/bossa homage rolls right along with delightful treatments of such classics as “Gentle Rain,” “Once I Loved” and Zottola’s superb interpretation of Jobim’s “One Note Samba” equally as enchanting as the famous Getz instrumental rendition. Other immortal Jobim classic such as “Dindi,” Meditation,” and “Triste,” are all presented with the saxophonist leading the way with tasteful accompaniment from a stellar cast of players and a delightful string section. Also Included in this tribute album are non-bossa standards like Cole Porter’s “I Concentrate on You,” and the Robert Wright/George Forrest classic “Baubles, Bangles and Beads”—both transformed into bossa songs on the Grammy—nominated Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim (Reprise, 1967) recording. The program ends as it began with a delicious interpretation of another Bonfa standard “Samba de Orfeu” where the saxophonist’s high flying solos are splendidly supported by guitarist Berestovoy with a little help from percussionist Emiliano Almeida capping off a memorable taste of Brazil. As tribute albums go, Glenn Zottola’s The Bossa Nova Story tells a tale of a jazz icon whose saxophone changed the music and of a musical style that changed the world. The great Stan Getz and Antonio Carlos Jobim are no doubt, smiling from heaven after hearing Zottola’s graceful treatment of their enduring music, well done!

Glenn Zottola “My Life In Jazz” Clifford Brown – Episode 19

GLENN ZOTTOLA – CLIFFORD BROWN REMEMBERED Review by NICHOLAS F. MONDELLO in All About Jazz May 6, 2014 7980 Views

The trumpet is a cruel—yet loving—mistress. It can announce the slightest executional blemish, instantly betraying its player’s most sincere efforts, while also allowing its lover to express every possible nuance and emotion. The greatest Masters of the instrument in jazz—Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Chet Baker and others—all could brilliantly deliver expressive emotion. Of those in the trumpet’s pantheon, Clifford Brown, by virtue of his genius and enhanced by his mythology, stands out. Any attempt by a trumpeter to emulate Clifford would have all the risk of a tightrope walk across Niagara Falls. With Clifford Brown Remembered, trumpeter Glenn Zottola takes up the Herculean task of playing tribute to Brownie in the most extraordinary manner. He’s taken the classic Clifford Brown with Strings recording (EmArcy, 1955) and, deploying his own formidable talents, recreated the recording in a musical salute. And, he’s done it marvelously. The dozen selections (with an added cover of Dinah Washington’s recording of Benny Golson’s, threnody, “I Remember Clifford”)—were originally drawn primarily from the GAS (“Yesterdays,” “Embraceable You,””Stardust”) and are performed here in the same sequence as the 1955 recording. Zottola, well-respected as a mainstream and swing performer, interprets the Brown ballad performances with reverence and interpretive artistry. His lush sound is warm and inviting, and nearly as resonant as his idol’s. He possesses a fine vocalist’s sense of phrasing and lyric savvy. While there may be understandable comparisons to the original, Zottola’s ease of playing, technical and articulation skills, and superlative dynamic control make this recording shine. Incredibly, in this recording, Zottola re-creates the legendary session performing it completely from memory, interpreting Clifford’s playing by ear. The original string charts (by Neal Hefti) were transcribed by Mark Stallings and are superbly performed. Given that the original recording was done in 1955, the music’s beauty withstands time’s test and glows yet again. Rarely does a performer rise to a level of excellence as that of the artist that he or she salutes. Zottola certainly comes close. Be that so, while Clifford Brown remains to this day, nearly 60 years after his tragic death, an influential voice in jazz trumpet, the adulation that is performed here is indeed apropos. Glenn Zottola portrays himself not only an adoring acolyte, but a superlative and sensitive trumpet artist in his own right. And, just as Brownie did, Zottola certainly speaks. Track Listing: Yesterdays, Laura, What’s New?, Blue Moon, Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man of Mine,Embraceable You, Willow Weep for Me, Memories of You, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Portrait of Jenny, Where or When, Stardust, I Remember Clifford. Personnel: Glenn Zottola: trumpet. Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Classic Jazz Records

Glenn Zottola “My Life In Jazz” Charlie Parker – Episode 18

Review by Geannine Reid in All About Jazz 10,589 views

On “Moonlight in Vermont,” Zottola’s warm alto captures the spirit of Bird’s unique rhythmic and harmonic lines without cliché imitation or ‘licks.’ Zottola’s playing is full of fresh angles to the bebop language; lagging slightly behind the beat for some phrases, high accented notes are derived from the melody with complex melodic lines underneath, a rhythmic feeling that falls into double time and a high use of chromatic embellishments all without ever losing the sense of swing and melodic continuity. The orchestration is full and supportive of Zottola’s melodic explorations through the harmonies while the backing lines have multiple layers and counterpoints; they never distract the listener from Zottola. Zottola explains, “This album is not a re-creation of anything Charlie Parker did which would be pretentious and silly on my part. Bob Wilber once told me Charlie Parker was the last great swing player and true enough if you listen to his early recordings with Jay McShann, you will hear he is straight out of the Lester Young school. I did many festivals with Jay and spoke to him about Charlie Parker who was in his teens when he played in Jay’s band. Actually there is a Charlie Parker solo where he quotes the entire intro to Louis Armstrong’s ground breaking “West End Blues” from the 1920s, so his roots go back for sure and Charlie Parker was one of the great improvisers of the 20th century along with Louis Armstrong in my opinion. What I would like to pay tribute to is how he “culled together” everything before him, making it work in whatever setting he was in, putting a glorious final stamp on what was the Golden Age of Jazz that started with Louis Armstrong in the 1920s and ended with Parker in 1950 which was the great Renaissance in Jazz that sadly America has still not acknowledged. Most important to me is “Bird’s” aesthetic and beauty in everything he played whether it was fast or slow and that comes from the soul which is so evident in his string album. Just listen to his ground breaking intro on “Just Friends” on his string album, total aesthetic beauty.” Reflections of Charlie Parker is not just slow ballads, Zottola has wisely placed a few mid-tempo swingers in to add tempo variety; “Oh, Lady Be Good!,” “I May Be Wrong,” “What is This Thing Called Love” and “Three Little Words” and he has also chosen to scale down the ensemble to just a quintet. “Oh, Lady Be Good!,” “Embraceable You,” “I May Be Wrong” and “Three Little Words” are presented in a quintet format with Don Abney on piano, Jimmy Raney on guitar, Oscar Pettiford on bass and Kenny Clarke on drums. “What is This Thing Called Love” has Nat Peirce on piano, Barry Galbraith on guitar, Milt Hinton on bass and Osie Johnson on drums. “What is This Thing Called Love” has a wonderful chorus of Zottola and Hinton trading fours and Raney’s guitar solo on “Three Little Words” is a treat to hear (ending the CD on a mid-up tempo swinger). Zottola’s soloing on each track is deeply steeped in the bebop tradition, but highly melodic and always swinging. Zottola speaks further about his thoughts about Parker, “Also, Charlie Parker in many ways took Jazz from the dance hall to the concert hall. The two major influences for me in creating my own jazz style was Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker, the alpha and omega in jazz in my opinion. Miles Davis summarized jazz in two names Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker. If you just listen and get the concept of how Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker approached music as improvisers in a ‘general sense’ it will organically seep into your own style and that is all I did. Basically with this tribute I just wanted to acknowledge Charlie Parker in my own way for pointing the way for all of us.” Reflections of Charlie Parker is highly recommended, you won’t be disappointed on this one! Personnel Glenn Zottola: alto saxophones; Don Abney: piano; Jimmy Raney: guitar; Oscar Pettiford: bass; Kenny Clarke: drums; Nat Pierce: piano; Barry Galbraith: guitar; Milt Hinton: bass; Osie Johnson: drums.

Glenn Zottola “My Life In Jazz” The Final Phase – Episode 17

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.