Alexander Zonjic--Doin' the D

“In the classical world, the flute has a huge stature, but it has struggled in recent years to be considered as a solo jazz instrument on the same level as the saxophone or guitar or piano.”  So says jazz flutist Alexander Zonjic. Well, with his persistence and perseverance-- along with that of fellow flutists like Althea Rene and Nestor Torres-- the flute, as an enticing entity with its own personality and presence, is certainly on course  to being anything but “lightweight.” This is quite evident with Zonjic’s latest effort, Doin’ the D, a reference, by the way, to a popular catchphrase in the Detroit area, where Zonjic has resided for the better part of 30 years. The phrase is said to mean spending an evening or a weekend checking out any of the various cultural attractions offered by the city’s rich musical history and cultural diversity. This recording captures the essence of that adventure. 

This album contains some seriously colorful melodies and hooks by Zonjic and includes the masterful contributions of such stellar jazz celebs as Jeff Lorber, Maysa, Kenny G, Bob James, James Lloyd, Rick Braun, and Chieli Minucci. The opening track, “Top Down,” smacks of Lorber’s artistry and songsmithing, while track 2, “From A to Z,” has that funky rhythmic drive symbolic of a Pieces of a Dream tune, and well it should, considering that keys wiz James Lloyd wrote and sits in on this one, as well as one other. Not to be outdone, Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower” gets a workout from Kenny G on sax. Some nicely vibrant Latin flavor is brushed on with “Passion Island,” written by icons Bob James and Chieli Minucci. Toss in Maysa’s always amazing vocal talents on a cool take of “Undun,” originally written and recorded by Canadian rockers, The Guess Who, and a funky little Lorber piece (Lorber penned a number of these tunes, by the way) called “Tourista”-- which features trumpeter Rick Braun--and you’ve got a really well-rounded album. Of course, all of these contributions are well-served by Zonjic’s lilting, soothing, and oft even funky flute offerings. With such a delightful blend of tastes and feels, this project is truly one for the senses.

While Zonjic doesn’t lend any writing to this project (instead, he graciously redirects that spotlight onto his musical colleagues), each tune here is electrified by the powerful presence of his dancing flute, and it is that presence that gives this project that extra caress and lift and should allow the flutist to claim this one as one of his finest to date. Indeed, a well-conceived and most pleasurable effort. --  Ronald Jackson

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