Primary Instrument: Violin
Zach Brock, jazz violinist and composer, is forging a unique musical identity with “audacious ingenuity and masterful command of his instrument,” says Bill Milkowski of Jazz Times. Distinguished jazz critic Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune writes that Zach Brock is a violinist “whose every phrase argues for the instrument’s value in 21st century jazz.” Neil Tesser echoes, “Zach Brock is the pre- eminent improvising violinist of his generation.”
2013 is proving a landmark year for Brock as he tours as co-leader with renowned pianist/composer Phil Markowitz, appears in festivals with the Stanley Clarke Band, and premiers new classical works by Laurie Altman and Preston Stahly. In August Brock was named “2013 Rising Star Violinist” by Downbeat Magazine.
Zach’s debut recording for the Dutch label Criss Cross Jazz, Almost Never Was, was listed as one of The Chicago Tribune’s Top 10 Jazz Recordings of 2012 and features Brock with pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Eric Harland in a set of new originals, standards, and contemporary classics. While Criss Cross’ considerable catalog of renown jazz players stretches back to 1978, Almost Never Was is the first to be led by a violinist. In December 2012 the quartet played to a capacity audience for the album’s release at NYC’s Jazz Standard and were also featured in a live broadcast for WNYC’s Soundcheck with John Schaefer.
In 2010, alongside longtime collaborator Matt Wigton on bass and Frederick Kennedy on drums, Zach recorded The Magic Number. The trio made their international debut at the 2010 Toronto Jazz Festival and in 2012 they represented the U.S. Department of State as Arts Envoys to the Solomon Islands.
Zach’s first band, The Coffee Achievers, after recording two CDs on Brock’s Secret Fort label, performed at Carnegie Hall in 2005 at the invitation of trumpeter and composer Dave Douglas. Later that year they were invited to perform at the Ouro Preto Jazz Festival in Brazil by recommendation of MacArthur Grant recipient Patricia Barber.
As a sideman Zach has performed and recorded with many notable artists such as bass legend Stanley Clarke, brass virtuoso Wycliffe Gordon, the neo-funk band Snarky Puppy, bassist/ composer/Greenleaf recording artist Matt Ulery, and singer- songwriter/cellist Ben Solle.
Born in Lexington, KY, Zach grew up in a family of musicians and was performing publicly by the age of six. From a background in classical and folk music, Zach became serious about studying jazz while in high school. He moved to Chicago with the dual goal of furthering his classical studies at Northwestern University, while embracing the city’s rich jazz scene. He relocated to New York City in 2005.
Awards:2013 Downbeat Critics Poll Winner - Rising Star, Jazz Violin
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
Neil Tesser, Chicago Jazz Music Examiner There are good reasons the violin plays so large a role in so many of the world’s musical traditions, starting with the vocality of its timbre and the humanness of its inflection, and ranging from its transcendent held notes to the prick of its pizzicato. Many jazz violinists have mastered some of these capabilities, but only a handful have shown a command of them all – let alone the ability to swing convincingly on the instrument. Brock has all that, and more: his solos have direction and spirit, and they open a window to an ordered but creative musical intelligence.
A few other violinists can match Brock’s technique, and in recent years, some of them have attained significant accolades for their improvising – including a couple who can’t solo their way out of a paper bag. Accept no substitutions: Zach Brock is the pre-eminent improvising violinist of his generation.
Bill Milkowski, Jazz Times Violinist-composer Zach Brock reveals traces of his main influence, Jean-Luc Ponty, on this daring acoustic trio project featuring Matt Wigton on upright bass and Frederick Kennedy on drums... Brock acquits himself with audacious ingenuity and masterful command of his instrument.
Michael Jackson, Chicago Sun-Times During “Amadeus Had A Dream,” stage lights were dimmed leaving the orchestra members in silhouette and the audience slack-jawed at the marvel of Brock’s Paganini-level mastery.
Stanley Clarke, The Blue Note, NYC I called the great French violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and I said 'So, who's the new cat? Who's got the stuff? And he said Zach Brock.
Patricia Barber, MacArthur Grant Recipient and Blue Note recording artist 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.
Don Heckman, Los Angeles Times Add Brock to the small list of players finding ways to bridge the potentially hazardous chasm between the violin and jazz. Recently awarded a Carnegie Hall residency, Brock is an intriguing young artist with a bright future.
Dave Liebman, NEA Jazz Master/Saxophonist This is very exciting music that highlights a very special timbre with Zach Brock's exciting violin playing front and center. The group definitely projects a lot of energy and power that demands the listener's attention.
Tad Hendrickson, College Music Journal ...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.
Budd Kopman, All About Jazz 'Live At The Jazz Factory' will make a believer of those holding even the slightest prejudice against the violin that Brock is, indeed, a musician first and a violinist second, and that the Coffee Achievers can take down the house.
Mary Ellen Hutton , Music in Cincinnati Violinist Zach Brock is a musician of prodigious ability and keen artistic insight...You might call him the Joshua Bell of the jazz violin.
Jeffrey Lee Puckett, The Louisville 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.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.
bruceandgerri, Create Tucker (Nov 23, 2010) Several weeks ago at the Purple Fiddle we heard a fantastic group, Zach Brock and the Magic Number. For the first half of the show we were amazed at the virtuosity, originality, and energy of their jazz. For the second half of the show we watched and listened differently to all of the musicians —Zach on violin, Fred on drums, and Matt on bass. It wasn’t their virtuosity but their musical conversation that engaged us. Not only did they play their instruments as if they were talking to each other, they listened and took ideas from each other. It was obvious that all three of the musicians not only loved their instrument, in a sense they lived it. Player and instrument were one, and each one of them needed the other. And even though we weren’t playing, we were engaged in their conversation; we were living what they were living.
Zach Brock "Almost Never Was" Criss Cross Jazz 1349 Release Date: May 15, 2012
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.