After a lull of over three years, flutist Alexander Zonjic has released his newest CD called Seldom Blues
, which is also the name of Zonjic's jazz supper club in downtown Detroit's Renaissance Center. He says, "It opened back in June of 2004 with a lot of fanfare. My friend Bob James came in and Peter White came in and Jeff Lorber came in and Angels Bofill came in and Earl Klugh came in and Tim Bowman came in and Dave McMurray came in and we had quite a night. We got the club up and running. It's a beautiful establishment right on the water in Detroit and a welcome addition to what is already a real renaissance in downtown Detroit. People call it a restaurant, but we have 130 people on staff. This is not a small place."
The title track was not itself written by Zonjic. He says, "When we finished our grand opening, I asked Bob James if he would write the title track for my next CD. I already decided that I was going to call this CD 'Seldom Blues' and I wanted an original composition. Bob and I have been friends for years and he came up with that wonderful title track. We got Ken, who is a very successful R&B singer from Detroit to sing the title track. There's a lot of very good energy happening and hopefully it's reflected in the record."
Alexander Zonjic says that he is an integral part of the Detroit landscape. He says, "There's a lot of excitement downtown. Everybody is moving back into the city. The Detroit Tigers have a new field and the Lions have a new stadium. I hope one day that they get those world championship Pistons back into the city because they're out in Auburn Hills right now. We're right down there by the water. General Motors has made huge commitments to downtown Detroit. As an artist who is on the radio, have six major festivals I put together, you got your fingers in so many different aspects of the city and, like it or not, you're one of those components, you're one of the pieces of the puzzle that's bringing the city back to where we all know where it should be. Hopefully this record will bring the flute and me back to the forefront."
When most people think about the music scene in Detroit, most people think about the Motown sound. However, Zonjic says there is a lot more music than meets the ear in Detroit. He says, "It's an amazing music city. Just consider the jazz tradition and the R&B tradition. Obviously rap artist Eminem is from here, singer Anita Baker is from here, Kenny Burrell is from here, Earl Klugh is from here, rocker Bob Seeger is from here, and the list goes on. It's really an amazing city that is as [musically] diverse - every conceivable kind of music and it's on a world-class level. In 'Seldom Blues,' we tried to include along with all my national friends as much Detroit sound and vibe as possible." Seldom Blues
is Alexander Zonjic's 11th release and features both originals and covers. He says, "The covers are amazingly strong songs. It's no secret in the jazz-smooth jazz world. There is a large yuppie component - people that grew up in the 60's and 70's and were big music fans. So Eric Burdon's 'Spill the Wine' has got to hit a nerve. Then The Stylistics' 'People Make the World Go 'Round' and then you got one of Angela Bofill's signature tunes 'Under the Moon, Over the Sky.’ Those three covers are great and there is all that original content."
Zonjic says everyone will find something good on Seldom Blues
. He says, "For fans of mine who have always bought my music, I think they are going to love the fact that there's every bit as much of what I normally do on there, along with a little bit more edge. There are really genuine funky tunes on there. It was up tempo by design because everything about the mood and the philosophy behind the record is about the whole upbeat nature of what's happening here in the city, what's happening with the new club, and how much happiness it has brought to so many people here. You get to a certain point in your career when if you're as luck as I am, and believe me I'm lucky," says Zonjic, "I have more things going on that a flute player could have going on, [and] there's no reason to be anything but upbeat. I think it is reflected in the record."
Alexander Zonjic says Seldom Blues
is a learning experience for people who have not heard a smooth jazz performer play the flute. He says, "For new people who are not familiar with the music who may stumble across it or hear it on the radio, I think it's great to hear that instrument. There's no question, the flute is not at the forefront of any format. If you look at the smooth jazz format, let's be frank, it's the saxophone that's the rule in that format and justifiably. It's a great instrument. It's nice to bring the flute to an audience that may not be used to or familiar with the fact that it can play that kind of music."
Zonjic hopes his new release Seldom Blues
will get more national attention so he will be able to tour to support the CD. "All through the 80's," says Zonjic, "I toured with Bob James and in the early 90's with my Warner Brothers Records, I was out there a lot more than I have been. The last five to ten years, there's too much going on around here for me to just go out and start wondering around the country. A lot of it has to do with the success of the record. With as many things as I have got going on here," says Zonjic, "I do need a compelling reason to fly around the country. I'm hoping some significant radio and whatever measure of success we can get from this record will kind of help promote that
. The last time I talked with Alexander Zonjic, it was to promote his last release Reach for the Sky
. The day was September 10th, 2001, the day before the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania. Three years later, Zonjic says, "That was a weird time to have a new record come out. We had a huge album release party planned back in October. I had keyboardists Bob James and Jeff Lorber, guitarist Ken Navarro and saxophonist Kirk Whalum all booked. We really contemplated canceling it and we wound up turning that release concert into a fundraiser for the American Red Cross. It was very successful," says Zonjic, "and we sent $25,000 to the Red Cross. It was definitely a different time."
On September 11th, 2001, Zonjic was doing his morning radio show on WVMV-FM in Detroit. "We actually had someone auditioning to be my co-host on my radio show," says Zonjic. "She had flown in from Philadelphia and next thing you know, rather than her being on the air having fun and talking about music, we came to the end of our morning show at just before nine. And as we were closing, all those reports coming in. What a peculiar time it was."
Zonjic hopes that the problems that happened on 9/11 are behind us. He says, "I think everybody's certainly cautious, but boy, wasn't that a different time? To even think that the world, music world or otherwise, really cared about a new release at that time could have been a real stretch - to be in the media business, to be a radio person at that time and not a radio person that did news. I'm not a journalist, I'm a musician on the radio," says Zonjic. "I remember how difficult it was to deliver a show where normally you're just telling jokes and having fun. It was a difficult thing to do at that given point in time. It was a very humbling experience."
Alexander Zonjic is on a high. He has a successful jazz supper club and is strong fixture in the Detroit area. With his new release Seldom Blues
, Zonjic will have a strong presence throughout the country. If he does tour and comes to your city, go and buy tickets immediately. You'll be treated to some of the best smooth jazz yet.