"Rick Zunigar with his tune "Rhumboogie", was the contest's (Guitars on Fire, all American Guitar competition) grand prize winner. John Patitucci was apparently so impressed with Zunigar's playing that he asked if he could break the rules of the one to ten rating scheme and give Zunigar 1000. Zunigar who appears on "Rhumboogie" along with Drummer Dave Hocker and Bassist Zoltan, grew up in New York.....
Clouds feature Rick Zunigar (Guitar), Zoltan Dekany (Bass), Dave Hocker (Drums), except "Old Milestones" and "You Don't Know What Love Is" Featuring Rick Zunigar (Guitar), Billn Hyde (Organ) and Dave Tull (Drums)
While dating back a few years, Clouds is an album of hard-hitting post-bop that well deserves a second look. Guitarist Rick Zunigar and his trio are world-class performers and Zunigar, in particular, is an artist who ought to be much more well-known by now.
“Rhumboogie”, the opening track on the disk, won Zunigar the JAZZIZ magazine “Guitars on Fire” grand prize, and that’s no surprise. With a lightening fast theme, and a solo that demonstrates Zunigar’s remarkable dexterity, musicality and ability to build excitement, the track is the perfect introduction to Zunigar’s playing. It establishes Zunigar, in a short five-minute period, as a guitarist of consequence.
While Zunigar’s name may not be well-known, the company he has kept over the years certainly is. He has played with artists including Stevie Wonder, Freddie Hubbard, Cal Tjader, Ray Charles, Roy Ayers and The Crusaders. While his own work demonstrates a predisposition towards post-bop, he is clearly a diverse guitarist, able to fit into a number of musical contexts.
With a style that combines the best of Pat Metheny, Pat Martino, Mick Goodrick, Jim Hall and John Abercrombie, reverential without being imitative, Zunigar emerges, on Clouds, as a voice that is as substantial as his sources, and as unique.
From lyrical linear work to full-bodied chordal passages, Zunigar has it all; a strong sense of rhythm and time; an innate sense of harmony; an economy in his playing that leaves no wasted notes; and a remarkable ability to construct solos that tell a strong story with a firm beginning, middle and end. “Beth’s Blues is a strong example of all these skills.
Throughout the programme of mainly original material, Zunigar also demonstrates strong writing, with a diverse set of tunes that are completely memorable; he writes melodies that stay with you long after the disk has ended.
Bassist Zoltan Dekany and drummer Dave Hocker provide sympathetic support on the majority of the tracks. While the material is Zunigar’s, the approach of this trio is very reminiscent of Pat Metheny’s Trio 99>00 with Larry Grenadier and Bill Stewart. On two of the three non-originals, Zunigar dabbles with the organ trio format and, while they are also beautifully done, it is with Dekany and Hocker that the chemistry really happens.
Rick Zunigar is a guitarist waiting to happen; revisiting Clouds reveals a an artist who is at the top of his game; who is now the sum of his influences; and who is no longer an imitator, but rather a peer of the artists who helped mould his sound. He is an important guitarist who deserves broader recognition; why he has not reached a wider audience is a curiosity.
Tracks: Rhumboogie, Beth's Blues, Clouds, Desert Star, Hypervigilance, Old Milestones, Recoil, Resolution, Mr. Whiskers, You Don't Know What Love Is, Zolty
Record Label Website: http://www.jazzutopia.com