Primary Instrument: Violin
This year is bringing great things for Zach Brock. After performing at The 2012 Sundance Film Festival in January he headed back home to New York City and made his first recording for the European label Criss Cross Jazz. Featuring an elite young squad of jazz players, ALMOST NEVER WAS, has the unique distinction of being the first recording by the label with a violinist as leader. Alongside jazz superstars Aaron Goldberg, Matt Penman, and Eric Harland, Zach performs his own compositions as well as songs by Thelonious Monk, Joe Henderson, Zbigniew Seifert, Leslie Feist, and Jimi Hendrix.
Zach’s performances in Chicago last summer prompted Neil Tesser of the Chicago Examiner to state that Zach is “…the pre-eminent improvising violinist of his generation.” Heralded also by the Chicago Tribune as the “great bright hope for jazz violin” and by Downbeat Magazine as a Rising Star pick 2005-2011 in the violin category, Zach is one of the most virtuosic and emotive leaders of contemporary jazz violin. He has forged a unique sound for the violin that incorporates everything from jazz, folk, classical, rock, punk, world and popular music.
Zach’s touring band, THE MAGIC NUMBER, features original improvised music with a jazz, rock, and folk flair. They will be touring this summer as Musical Ambassadors for the U.S State Department in the South Pacific.
Recently, Zach has also been touring with bass legend Stanley Clarke and recording with the up- and-coming neo-funk band Snarky Puppy, who’s latest CD, GROUND UP, went to #3 on the iTunes Jazz Charts.
Born in Lexington, KY, Zach grew up in a family of musicians and was performing publicly by the age of six. He became serious about jazz while in high school and moved to Chicago to continue his classical studies with the ulterior motive of participating in the city’s jazz scene. As a sophomore in college, Zach was in a serious car accident that sidelined him for three years. By the time he was able to finish his degree he had already launched headlong into his professional career.
In 2005 THE COFFEE ACHIEVERS, Zach’s first quartet, made their Carnegie Hall debut at the invitation of trumpeter and composer Dave Douglas. Six months later they played at the Ouro Preto Jazz Festival in Brazil. Zach moved to New York a few months later and the second chapter of his early career began.
THE MAGIC NUMBER, Zach’s first recording as leader since 2007, distinguishes itself immediately through its unusual instrumentation: an acoustic trio that counterbalances the absence of a chordal instrument with the addition of wordless vocal harmonies, pitched percussion, and extended instrumental techniques. It is the first recording of Zach’s to feature his own compositions alongside classic and modern jazz standards and it was funded entirely by fans’ donations made through the micro-funding website Kickstarter. The title of the CD was inspired by Zach’s recent work as a sideman with the iconic Bob Dorough, a Miles Davis collaborator and Schoolhouse Rock! originator. The trio made their international debut at the 2010 Toronto Jazz Festival.
Awards:2005 to 2011 Downbeat Reader’s Poll “Rising Star” Violin Category 2005 Dave Douglas Residency at Carnegie Hall 2002 Betty Carter’s “Jazz Ahead” Residency at Kennedy Center 2000 National Endowment For The Humanities and The Smithsonian Institution Grant to fund a lecture and concert illuminating early American jazz violin pioneers and their impact on the jazz culture in Paris, France during the 1920s and 30s
Great jazz violinists always have been in perilously short supply, which may explain why many listeners have been investing their hopes in the work of Zach Brock.
Brock's art...combines the technical rigor of his classical training with the spirit of experimentation...
Brock has combined the best of two worlds: instrumental virtuosity and creative improvisation. More important, he has done so on the violin, an instrument that historically has been marginalized in jazz.
Brock's emergence holds great promise. Having appeared on nearly two dozen CDs as leader and sideman, he appears poised for a stylistically wide-ranging career.
Zach Brock offers fresh take on past at Green Mill Chicago Tribune By Howard Reich | TRIBUNE CRITIC March 10, 2008
Top-notch young jazz violinists are not in abundance these days, which may explain why so many listeners queued up outside the Green Mill on Saturday night.
What Brock's admirers heard Saturday night...was something different from the past. Presenting the Chicago debut of a splendid sextet he calls Arrival/Departure, Brock explored the little-known music of Zbigniew Seifert, the visionary Polish violinist who died tragically young, at 32, in 1979...
But this is no ghost band or repertory outfit. Rather then simply revisit Seifert's music, Brock and friends are re-examining it according to their own tastes and sensibilities.
After playing a rhapsodic opening solo, Brock unreeled Seifert's serpentine tune in exquisite unison with singer Grazyna Auguscik and guitarist John McLean.
Zach Brock and the Coffee Achievers by Don Heckman | Los Angeles Times Add Chicagoan Brock to the small list of players finding ways to bridge the potentially hazardous chasm between the violin and jazz. On tunes such as This Is Just and Playa Blanca, which also incorporate the airy singing of Melissa Stylianou into the layered musical mix, he plays with a warm tone and occasional double stops reminiscent of Stephane Grappelli. Elsewhere, Remember Young Ray is a good example, he swiftly leaps into a swirling morass of fleet- fingered phrases simmering with electronic distortion sounds à la Jean-Luc Ponty. Recently awarded a Carnegie Hall residency, Brock is an intriguing young artist with a bright future.
Reviews and Picks by Ed Trefzger | Jazz Week It's hard to pin down violinist Zach Brock and his band The Coffee Achievers on their second album Chemistry; the CD starts out with a fusion track, Cold Turkey, complete with rapid speaker-to- speaker panning and electric violin with distortion, but switches to the album's only vocal track with lyrics, This Is Just, with singer Melissa Stylianou. But it's that variety, and the strength of compositions by Brock, keyboardist Sam Barsh (featured on the Avishai Cohen album reviewed above), and bassist Matt Wigton, that make this so enjoyable to listen to from end to end. That variety also means that there's a track or two at least for almost any mainstream jazz station, whether it's the contemporary funky feel of 1 A.M. Gate, the pretty interplay of cello, violin, and vocals on Playa Blanca, or the frantic, dual electric violins on Remember Young Ray. Chemistry should appeal to younger listeners as well as those in your older core audience who remember some of the more electric sounds of the seventies.
Critic's Choice by Neil Tesser | Chicago Reader On Chemistry, Brock speeds past the mainstream modernism that distinguished his band's self-titled 2003 debut; he and his bandmates occasionally ramp up the electronics to approximate the sound that Jean-Luc Ponty and Michael Urbaniak pioneered in the 70s, while wordless vocals from guest singer Melissa Stylianou further separate the album from it's predecessor.
Critical Comment Patricia Barber Those who have waited for a young jazz violinist to mold the genre of giants Stephane Grappelli, Johnny Frigo, and Jean Luc-Ponty are thrilled about this recording by Zach Brock. Mr. Brock can play lyrically in the light nostalgic manner of the gypsy violinists, or add effects to shape a violin solo with the authority of a rock guitarist. On Chemistry, Zach proves himself as composer, improviser and producer. With a fiercely charismatic presence onstage, Zach is the one on whom to place your bets in jazz.
All-stars gather for stellar string ensemble by Howard Reich | Chicago Tribune In recent years, violinist Zachary Brock has emerged as one of the city's most promising young players, and his work in the Electric String Ensemble underscored the point. His silken lines, high-register yowls and consistently inventive phrase-making reaffirmed his rising stature as the rare jazz fiddler with something significant to say.
Starting to turn heads in the world of jazz The Courier-Journal Violinist Zach Brock is starting to turn heads in the world of jazz, building a reputation as a consummate technician willing to take chances without abandoning musicality…classic American jazz with one eye on the fringes.
Other Dimensions by Tad Hendrickson | College Music Journal The Chicago violinist plays with easy virtuosity based in swing and post-bop. His compositions groove in a way that recalls a gypsy swing version of Charlie Hunter, which is a tribute to the strong support cast on keyboards, bass, and drums who take the tunes out and work through them. But it all eventually comes back to Brock's violin - pulling lilting emotions, making the strings pop, and generally giving it his all, the young violinist won't strictly be a Chicago treasure for long.
Brock's electric violin work is soaring-intense-remarkable Dick Crockett, Still Another Jazz Show, 88.7FM Brock's electric violin work is soaring-intense-remarkable… Jean-Luc Ponty meets Chuck Palahniuk in Fight Club. Chemistry is good enough for the long haul, one of many inclusions in a brightening career.
Zach Brock “The Magic Number” 2011 Secret Fort Records 60205 Release Date: March 24, 2011
Matt Ulery "Flora, Fauna, Fervor" 482 Music Release Date: January 11, 2011
The Universal Thump "Chapter One" "Chapter Two" © 2010 Greta Gertler
Snarky Puppy “Tell Your Friends” Ropeadope Records Release Date: 2010
Alan Ferber’s ‘Ferberharmonic’ 2010 Sunnyside Records Release Date: April 2010
Jon Gold “Brazil Confidential” ZOHO Records 201004 Release Date: April 13, 2010
Oso Closo “Today Is Beauty’s Birthday” © 2009 Oso Closo
Matt Ulery Themes and Scenes © 2009 Matt Ulery (884501098816)
Snarky Puppy “Bring Us The Bright” © 2008 Snarky Puppy (884501042529)
Tyler Summers “Astoria Sessions” © 2008 Tyler Summers
Lauri Altman “On Course” © 2008 Albany Records
Matt Ulery’s ‘Loom’ “Music Box Ballerina” 2007 Woolgathering Music
John McLean Septet “Better Angels” 2007 Origin Records Origin 82486
Zach Brock & The Coffee Achievers “Live at the Jazz Factory” 2007 Secret Fort Records 60203/60204
Grazyna Auguscik “Live Sounds Live” 2007 GMA World Sounds 1724-8
The Mahavishnu Project “Return to the Emerald Beyond” 2007 Cuneiform Records Rune 242/243
Frank Locrasto “When You’re There” 2006 Max Jazz MXJ218
Spider Saloff “Like Glass” 2005 Kopaesthetics Records
Matt Ulery Octet “Live-Chicago” DVD 2005
Zach Brock & Tom Wright “High Voltage” 2005 Delmark Records
Hard Art Groop “Foot & Bird” 2005
“Cash Cow” 2005
“Holiday Magic” 2005
Zach Brock & The Coffee Achievers “Chemistry” 2005 Secret Fort Records 60202 Secret Fort Music, BMI
Hard Art Groop “Awesome Man” 2003
“Dream of Autumn” 2004
“Touch Monkey” 2004
Tom Wright & Zach Brock “Common Ground” 2002 Red Belly Records CG01-2003
“Zach Brock & The Coffee Achievers” 2003 Secret Fort Records 60201 Secret Fort Music, BMI
Orbert Davis “Priority” 2001 3.16 Records
Ripley Caine “Corvair…the ep” 2000 Psycho Queen Music
Kentucky Jazz Repertory Orchestra “Ellington Celebration” “Bakiff, 1941 (Nance, Tizol)” 1999 Seabreeze SB-2100
The Advocate Brass Band, The Louisville Mandolin Orchestra, New Walnut Street All-Star Orchestra, and Hayward Mickins “American Newspaper Marches for Band, Theater Orchestra, Mandolin Orchestra, and Piano” 1998 Walking Frog Records
Spazztet “Silent Films” 1999 Vibratrop Music, Zach Brock / Aaron Weistrop, BMI
Justin Kramer w/ Spazztet “Headin’ Out!” 1999 Kramer
Aaron Weistrop w/ Spazztet “Beautiful Impatience” 1997 Vibratrop Music, BMI
L’Woo! “C’est L’Woo!” 1997 The Mandoo Record Co.
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Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.