Continental Talk / Ratko Zjača

A new æsthetic of improvisation

Datum objave:
14.07.2009.
Surpassing boundaries, building bridges, bringing people together. It is
clear from the biography and discography of the brilliant Croatian
guitarist, Ratko Zjaca, that he is very much driven by these concepts.
Earlier CDs are called Crossing The Border and The Bag Is Packed and,
meanwhile, flights between Amsterdam and New York have become a comfortable
routine and English the predominant language. Ratko Zjaca stands as a symbol
of the ongoing evolution of American classic jazz as it increasingly becomes
a country-uniting form of communication.
No wonder, then, that Ratko has named his debut album for In+Out Records
Continental Talk. The dialogue between the new and old world is functioning
much better. With him as moderator, far fewer conflicts arise than is the
case on political platforms. A bilateral exchange without pre-conditions and
prejudices, in which the string sorcerer is on the same level as
accomplished artists such as trumpet player, Randy Brecker, bassist John
Patitucci and drummer Steve Gadd creates a new æsthetic of improvisation.
"Two years ago, when I recorded Crossing The Border with John, and shortly
afterwards started to play live with Randy and Steve, I knew instantly that
I wanted to do my next recording with them," said Ratko. The decision to
realise this project came about when he was on a plane with his friend and
saxophone player, Stanislav Mitrovic. “It was a case of small talk above
the clouds, between America and Europe. Which is the reason the CD is called
Continental Talk.”

Quite early in Ratko Zjaca's career, there were vivid indications of his
extreme global yearning. After completing his classic studies at the
University of Zagreb, the highly talented guitarist attended the
conservatory of Rotterdam, where he plunged himself head on into the world
of modern music. He attended master classes as well as individual lessons
given by Joe Pass, Jim Hall, Pat Metheny, Mick Goodrick, Mike Stern, Bob
Brookmeyer and John Abercrombie, at the same time dedicating himself to the
study of composition. After Rotterdam he attended the New York University
School of Music. Soon the young Croatian had gained the status of being
something of a secret weapon on strings and he won the recognition of famous
colleagues, not only in the USA but also in Europe. He worked with such
great artists as Benny Bailey, Gary Peacock, Reggie Workman, Al Foster,
Miroslav Vitous, Ron Carter, Jimmy Cobb, Alvin Queen and Adam Nussbaum.

For his dream ensemble, the heroes of his youth, Zjaca wanted to write music
that was perfectly fitting. He says: "This was extremely simple, considering
the line-up. An almost natural process, an organic symbiosis". This
symbiosis continued during the session. Zjaca, Brecker, Patitucci, Mitrovic
and Gadd merely had to look at each other, giving a short nod, and the
creative energy poured forth like a lava stream. Only one take was required
for each one of the twelve titles. Every band member was receptive to the
impulses of the others and was immensely communicative. "I never wanted an
album for my ego," said Ratko Zjaca. "My intentions were, first and
foremost, to achieve an exchange at the highest level. And this actually
worked! I cannot possibly describe how much we enjoyed this moment. But it
can be heard, it sounds so obvious and pure. I have never felt better during
a recording session." And he was never better than on Continental Talk.
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