Simone Zanchini, accordion
Ratko Zjaca, guitar
Martin Gjakonovski, double bass
Jože Zadravec, drums
An old acquaintance of the Jazz Stage International Cycle, experienced jazz musician Ratko Zjaca, who was in 2019 awarded by the Croatian Composers’ Association for outstanding authorial and artistic achievements in the field of jazz, is returning to our festival in the company of particularly distinguished colleagues. The band has a unique musical vision that absorbs and reflects all manner of music while retaining an enviable individualism and high quality craftsmanship that can span from quiet intimacy to searing intensity. Energy and passion of the musicians with diverse musical backgrounds (from jazz, contemporary classical music, world music, and free improvisation) provide a unique experience of rhythmic ideas and sound textures. They have been working on original compositions as well as crafting beautiful and haunting improvisations. Their creations blur the boundaries between notated music and free improvisation; the unique sonic landscapes that result are rooted in history, while pushing at the boundaries of modern improvised music.
Simone Zanchini is an accordion virtuoso from Rimini, Italy. Considered one of the most interesting and innovative accordion players on the international scene, the eclectic musician moves between the boundaries of contemporary music, acoustic and electronic sound experimentation, mixing together experiences and super-refined influences issuing in an absolutely personal approach to improvisation materials. He graduated with honours in classical accordion at the Conservatory G. Rossini in Pesaro, under Sergio Scappini. Simone Zanchini has performed at several festivals in Italy (Clusone Jazz, Umbria Jazz, Tivoli Jazz, Jazz in the Time-Berchidda, Sant’Anna Arresi, Jazz-in’it, Ravenna Festival, Rossini Opera Festival, Siena Jazz etc.) and various international festivals around the world (France, Austria, Germany, England, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Spain, Norway, Russia, Tunisia, Lebanon, India, Venezuela, Japan, etc.). He has collaborated with many internationally renowned musicians from different musical backgrounds such as: Thomas Clausen, Gianluigi Trovesi, Javier Girotto, Marco Tamburini, Massimo Manzi, Tamara Obrovac, Bruno Tommaso, Bill Evans, Adam Nussbaum, Jim Black and others. Since 1999 he collaborates with the soloists of the Orchestra of Teatro alla Scala in Milan. Aside from musical performances, Zanchini also leads accordion workshops and collective improvisations. He has recorded many CDs. The album of Simone Zanchini, Ratko Zjaca, John Patitucci, and Adam Nussbaum, recorded in NYC, has won the Orpheus Award 2016 for the best Italian production of jazz music. In May 2019, Zanchini received the award World Accordion Ambassador from the city of Castelfidaro – the accordion city.
Ratko Zjaca is an award winning guitarist, composer and recording artist with many critically acclaimed recordings under his name. He has recorded and performed with some of the most influential musicians in jazz and modern improvisation music such as Benny Bailey, Randy Brecker, Gary Peacock, Reggie Workman, John Pattituci, Al Foster, Steve Gadd, Miroslav Vitous, Ron Carter, Jimmy Cobb, Jeff Tain Watts, Alvin Queen, Adam Nussbaum, Shawnn Monteiro etc. He is an innovative musician, widely recognized as a technically advanced guitarist, known for being a relentless individualist, which shows in his improvisational style. Ratko is considered a very gifted stylist and he assumes many roles in his macrocosm of music: contemporary guitarist, composer, performer etc. He graduated at Zagreb University. In his drive for the necessary knowledge, he sought his refuge in The Netherlands at the Rotterdam Conservatory, famous for its studies of modern music. There he could get teachings by well-known masters. He also followed masterclasses and personal courses with Joe Pass, Jim Hall, Pat Metheny, Mick Goodrick, Mike Stern, Bob Brookmayer, John Abercrombie, and others. After completing his study at the Rotterdam Conservatory, he continued at New York University School of Music, where he created his own music group and started collaborating with American trumpet veteran Benny Bailey. Unlike some of his colleagues Ratko is not focusing only on saxophone phraseologies, but is continuously expanding the guitar’s vocabulary within today’s world of music. Whilst improving his performance to create his typical own sound and style, Ratko, as a gifted teacher, is capable of transposing most advanced phrases and concepts into structures, suitable for every musician. He gives guitar master classes all around the world (the Netherlands, France, USA, Croatia, Slovenia etc.). Ratko was nominated for best jazz guitarist in South American El Intruso New Creative Music Critics Poll Award for 2010. The CD Don’t Try This Anymore has won the Orpheus Award for 2016 – the best Italian production for jazz music. He also received the award for achievement, authorship and artistic creation in jazz music from the Croatian Composer Society in 2019.
Martin Gjakonovski was born in Skopje, North Macedonia, in a family of jazz musicians. His father was the founder and conductor of the Macedonian Jazz Radio Big Band and his mother is a jazz vocalist. Martin started playing classical double bass at the age of 14, but soon his passion for jazz awoke and resulted with the founding of his first band, Trio Spato. The opening door to the international jazz scene was a jazz workshop with the Coltrane bass player Reggie Workman in Groznjan, Croatia (1990). In 1991 he moved to Cologne, Germany studying jazz bass at the Music Academy of Cologne. He also learned from other great bass players such as Arild Andersen, John Clayton, Mike Richmond, and Eddie Gomez. In the coming years he became one of the busiest and most versatile bassists in Germany, playing with musicians such as: Dusko Goykovich, Paul Shigihara, Ferenc Snetberger, David Friedman, Lee Konitz, Atilla Zoller, Don Friedman, Pete Yellin, Matt Wilson, Tony Lakatos, Ingrid Jensen, Andy Middleton, Kenny Wheeler, Kenny Werner, Charlie Mariano, Greg Hopkins, Don Menza etc. For the last ten years he collaborates with Michael Sagmeister Trio, Dusko Goykovich Quintet, Nicolas Simion Group, Antonio Faraò Trio (feat. Bob Berg, Sonny Fortune, Rick Margitza, Gene Jackson), Lynne Arriale Trio (feat. Benny Golson, Steve Davis), Paul Kuhn Trio (feat. Toots Thielemans, Ack Van Rooyen, Jiggs Whigham), Bojan Z Expatriots, Paul Shigihara Group (feat. Mokhtar Samba), Frankfurt Jazz Trio, and many others. He has recorded more than 150 jazz and world music CDs.
Jože Zadravec studied jazz at the Carinthian State Conservatory in Klagenfurt, Austria, with professors Erich Bachträgl and Klemens Marktl. He collaborates with several musicians and ensembles, such as: Simone Zanchini, Ratko Zjaca, Ton Risco, Martin Gjakonovski, Stefano Bedetti, Robert Bargard, Michael Erian, Karen Asatrian, Daniel Nösig, Gilad Barakan, Agostino Di Giorgio, Tonč Feinig, Reinhard Summerer, Primož Grašič etc. He participated in workshops led by world-renowned musicians and tutors including: Gregory Hutchinson, Willie Jones III, Billy Hart, Jimmy Cobb, Gary Bartz, Bob Mintzer, Armen Donelian, Don Menza, and others. Jože Zadravec performed at numerous international festivals: Nišville Jazz Festival (SRB), Osijek Summer of Culture (HR), Last Minute Jazz Festival Bale/Vale (HR), street festival Špancirfest Varaždin (HR), Swing Festival Zagreb (HR), Swing Festival Graz (AT), Sing mit uns/Sing with us (CH), Jazz unterm Baum/Jazz Under a Tree (AT), Swing Fest Bern (CH) etc. He regularly performs also at festivals in Slovenia: Jazz Ravne, Mozzajik Festival Velenje, Festival Lent Maribor, Jazz at CID Ptuj, Swing Festival BLED, Festival Godibodi Ljubljana, Pannonia Festival Križevci, and others. Jože has been teaching drums at the music school B.A.S.E (Ptuj, Slovenia) since 2015. In 2017, he started teaching drums and rhythm and reading at the jazz department of the Maribor Conservatory of Music and Ballet (Slovenia).
In collaboration with: