Rick Zunigar
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Rick Zunigar

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE
Band Jazz


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"Appearance at Rosalie & Alva’s Performance Gallery"

Rick Zunigar Returns!

For his Saturday September 3rd appearance at Rosalie & Alva’s Performance Gallery, guitarist Rick Zunigar provided a taste of the intimate side of his jazz styling, performing in a trio setting with Chris Conlangelo on contrabass and drummer Fritz Wise. Those who attended Rick’s previous Rosalie & Alva’s show on July 30th will remember the amazing interplay between Rick’s guitar and the Hammond B-3 organ of Joe Bagg and while Rick’s Organ Trio is one of the finest in that genre, it was nice to hear Rick as the featured artist in the main spotlight.
Fifty years of "pop" music have proved that anyone can play guitar, but only a special few can really PLAY the guitar. Rick is a fine "straight ahead" jazz musician making his statement with four lighting fast fingers over six strings. Inspired in his youth by Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass, Rick’s improvisations include full chords, skillfully capoed by his ever-moving right hand along with linear note runs of rhythmic and harmonic grace.
Rick’s simpatico sidemen are perfect bookends to frame his guitar mastery. Bassist Conlangelo and drummer Wise hold rock-solid clockwork throughout. Both are excellent soloists in the bargain. Conlangelo covers his big violin’s entire fret board to find just the right notes to express his mind, often pushing fingers high into the cello range for lovely ringing high tones. Fritz Wise relates just as well to his kit of percussive tricks. Wise keeps the beat on skins, cymbals and even at soto voce moments on the metal stand supporting the more traditional instruments in his set.
The evening’s selections were mostly melodies we think of as standards, but in the hands of this polished trio each became an original composition in itself.

- Skoot Larson

"Just Jazz Guitar (Dec 22, 2006)"

Rick Zunigar Organ Trio
2006 Jazzuni 002 www.rickzunigar.com

There seems to be a resurgence in the popularity of the organ trio
featuring guitar, organ and drums. More and more guitarists these
days are turning to this format as their working bands, and none
stand out more than guitarist Rick Zunigar. Zunigar is not only a
great improviser, he is a masterful composer, arranger and band
leader. With Organ Trio, Zunigar has put together an album that is
both traditional and contemporary, and is a showcase for all of his
above mentioned talents.
The musicians gathered for this project are nothing less than
brilliant at all times. With three different drummers: Dave Tull,
Mark Feber and Don Littleon, and four organists: Bill Heid, Joe Bagg,
Wayne Peet and Mikal Majeed, Zunigar has managed to create different
moods on the album that make each track unique and a joy to listen
to. Not only are all of these musicians great players, their
interaction produces a conversational style of improvising that never
sounds like the soloist is being put out front, but more of a cog in
their musical machine.
The tunes on the album are a variety of standards ("Milestones",
"All Blues", "In a Sentimental Mood"), seldom played jazz tunes
(Highway One by Bobby Hutcherson), and originals by Zunigar and Joe
Bagg. Of particular note are the arrangements of "Milestones" and
"Sentimental Mood," both featuring Zunigar’s wonderful chord-melody
playing. There is something for everyone on this album, burning
single- note solos, delicate chord melodies and swinging melodic
solos. It never sounds like the soloists are playing licks or
patterns over the given chord changes, but that they are playing the
tune itself, which allows each tune to have a life of its own.
I think that Organ Trio would be a welcome addition to any
guitarist’s musical library. The playing is great, the arrangements
are fresh, and the musicians are always at their best. What more
could one want from any jazz album?

Matthew Warnock - Just Jazz Guitar (Dec 22, 2006)
- Matthew Warnock

"LA Jazz Scene"

Zunigar is a very fluid player with chops galore. One might hear a hint of other guitar styles like Wes Montgomery but Zunigar is not an imitator, but rather he steadily sets forth loads of improvisational ideas

- Myrna Daniels - LA Jazz Scene

"The Mansion"

Arriving at the Mansion on this particular evening, I was dismayed to find no band (or audience to speak of) in the area normally reserved for jazz on Tuesdays. Suspecting the worst, I accosted the first barman I saw who, happily, pointed me in the direction of the Phoenix Bar where there were already a fair few people waiting in anticipation of American guitarist Rick Zunigar, over from New York on a short UK tour.

I’ve said this before but if given the choice, piano plinking would be my preferred option over guitar plucking... until I heard Mr Zunigar, that is. The word ‘class’ is an over-worked and usually over-the-top term often employed to no good effect by the likes of professional footballers, sports commentators and social club concert chairmen. However, as they say, there are always exceptions to the rule, Rick Zunigar being one of them. Combining brilliantly with Joel Purnell on tenor sax, Rick and the band - featuring John Perry on drums and Zoltan Deckany on acoustic bass - went on to give an awesome display of modern jazz that must have been just about as good as it gets anywhere in the UK.

A transfixed audience looked on as these four wonderful musicians wove together a tapestry of musical magic that sometimes transpired to make time stand still. This sensation of intensity manifested itself in a number of respects, not least of all in that part-way through the second number I became vaguely aware that beads of perspiration were forming on my forehead, but I made no attempt to wipe them away, so confounding was the effect of the music. Oh, didn’t I tell you? There was a ‘door charge’ on this night of wonderment... £3. I would quite cheerfully have paid more, but such is the eagerness with which jazz musicians seek to address their audiences here in Leeds, that there is often no door charge at all, which is astounding when you consider the quality on offer most nights.

For anyone interested in modern jazz or for those who’d like to find out more, get yourselves along to one of the many jazz venues in this fair city that has become home to so many capable musicians! I think you’ll be more than pleasantly surprised. - Shed Builder


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.
- www.jazzreview.com/John Kelman


Rick Zunigar-Organ trio-Jazzuni
Dave Collini-ASAP-Optimism
Benn Clatworthy-While My Lady Sleeps
Benn Clatworthy-One 4 Nica-Cornerstone Jazz
Rick Zunigar-New Frontier-Headfirst
Stevie Wonder-Conversation Peace; Natural Wonder Tour Live;
Hotter Than July; Original Musicquarium One;
Secret Life of Plants; In Square Circle-Motown
Take Six-Join the Band-Warner Bros
Little Jimmie Scott-Dream-Warner Bros
Lorez Alexandria-A Woman Knows-Discovery
Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway-Featuring Donny Hathaway-Atlantic
Roy Ayers-No Stranger to Love-Polydor
Clare Fischer-Salsa Picante, Machaca, Crazy Bird-Discovery
Jermaine Jackson-Let’s Get Serious-Motown
Smokey Robinson-Where’s the Smoke-Tamala
Michael Franks-One Bad Habit-Warner Bros
Cal Tjader-Huracan-Crystal Clear
Crusaders-The Good and the Bad Times-MCA
High Energy-Groove Patrol-Motown
Eddie Murphy-Eddie Murphy-CBS
Wilton Felder-Love is a Rush-MCA
Mike Garson-The Oxnard Sessions-Reference
Joe Sample-Roles-MCA
LA Jazz Syndicate- LA Jazz Syndicate
Miki Coltrane-I Think of You
Chris Ho- Growing up
Sylvia Striplin- Give me your Love
Grady Harrell- Come Play With Me
California Smooth Jazz-Sampler
Henry Franklin- Shalabongo
Nedra Wheeler- Gifts (live at birdland west)

Francis Ford Coppola-The Outsiders-By Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder-Secret Life of Plants

Stevie Wonder-Do I Do, Don’t Drive Drunk, Motown 25, NBC Friday Night Videos
BET on Jazz-Rick Zunigar Featuring Tony Dumas and Ralph Penland, 1995
The Jazz Network-Rick Zunigar Featuring Mulgrew Miller,
1991 PBS-The Freddie Hubbard and Pat Metheny Group
Stevie Wonder-American Bandstand 30th Anniversary, American Music
Awards, 1981; To Basie With Love at the Radio City Music Hall, 1982; Jay Leno,
1995; David Letterman, 1995; Soul Train 25th Anniversary Show;
Top of the Pops, England, 1995; The White Room, England, 1995; Tara Tata Live, Paris,
1995; The World Music Awards, Monte Carlo, 1995



For jazz guitarist Rick Zunigar, music has consistently been an integral part of his life. Born in Queens, N.Y. of proud parents native to Puerto Rico, Rick was emersed in an environment of cultural and musical diversity. Rick’s gift for music originated from his mother who sang and performed at Radio City Music Hall. Rick grew up listening to salsa and jazz, and within him grew a desire to learn the art of music.
It wasn’t long before Rick discovered his true love: the guitar. The inspiration to play the guitar came from Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass. By the age of seventeen Rick had already hit the professional scene, building an enormous track record that now includes performances, recordings, and tours with many music greats like Freddie Hubbard, Stevie Wonder, Cal Tjader, Jimmy Smith ,Willie Bobo, and many more. Rick’s extensive work has exposed him to multiple styles of music and enabled him to develop a limitless repertoire of musical styles.
Rick’s mainstay continues to be jazz; however, he enjoys incorporating all kinds of music into his playing, like bebop, Latin. R&B, and Fusion. This is exemplified in Rick’s first solo recording New Frontier (Headfirst). Now released is Rick’s latest recording Rick Zunigar Organ Trio (Jazzuni) which again boast a group of jazz greats including
Joe Bagg-Organ, and Mark Ferber-Drums,
Rick maintains his strong conviction to the mastery of the art of improvisation and composition. Rick’s goal is to reach as many people with his music; he feels he has a contribution to make in continuing the support and nurturance of the art of jazz.