Alexander Zonjic and Friends
Alexander Zonjic started his musical journey at age 9 in his hometown of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, when he was introduced to his musical love, the guitar. By age 15, his professional journey began as the lead guitar player in a rhythm and blues band. It was at age 21 when Zonjic was ready to discover the beauty, power and intelligence of music. That same year, destiny, a deity or simple serendipity intervened in the form of a stranger on a street corner. Back in Windsor for a well-deserved breather, Zonjic was approached by a shady character that recognized him as a musician from his numerous local appearances. Would this would-be rock star be interested in buying a flute? The asking price for the doubtlessly hot instrument was $50. “I liked how it looked in the case,” recalls Zonjic, who on a whim offered nine dollars. The deal was done, Zonjic discovered the sound of his destiny and history was made.
What he describes as “zero aptitude, but an immediate passion,” Zonjic set out to master the mysterious apparatus. He at once recognized the beautiful spectrum and limitless possibilities of the flute. Within a year, Zonjic realized the basics of the instrument. He auditioned successfully at the University of Windsor where he began his formal training and became immersed in the works of Bach, Mozart and other masters.
University instructors soon recognized Zonjic as a gifted student and recruited the second flutist of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra as a teacher for their promising scholar. Upon graduation, Zonjic continued his studies under the tutelage of Ervin Monroe, principle flutist of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. During these years, Zonjic attended school during the day, worked as a rock guitarist by night and even found time to teach others how to play the flute. Zonjic also continued to listen to and learn from the modern masters of jazz flute, Hubert Laws and Herbie Mann.
With a Bachelor of Musical Arts degree in hand, Zonjic embarked on his life’s voyage where soon another fateful meeting would change his future. It was while performing in Detroit’s celebrated jazz club, Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, that Zonjic experienced a chance encounter that would catapult him to even more renown. Zonjic was approached by keyboard legend, Bob James, who that night had come to hear for himself the work of the young virtuoso. James was so impressed that he asked Zonjic to join his band – a collaboration and relationship that blossomed and led to international touring and recording. This also led to recording with such jazz greats as Earl Klugh, Kirk Whalum, Harvey Mason and Angela Bofill, to name just a few.
By playing with outstanding musicians, Zonjic soon began to realize the best from his instrument and his own unique sound. Able to inspire those on stage with him, Zonjic soon became esteemed by his peers in the music world. Through the warmth of his wit and the strength of his artistry, Zonjic developed an instant connection with his audiences. He quickly found international acclaim for his work on the stage and in the studio.
Zonjic has performed on stages around the world as a solo performer, with his own group, and as part of jazz great Bob James’ band. Audiences in Japan, England, Philippines, Mexico and Dominican Republic have enjoyed his incomparable sound. He has also performed at major classical and jazz festivals throughout North America, including critically acclaimed appearances at Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl and New York’s Apollo Theater.
Zonjic’s discography is as varied and selective as one would expect. His first recording, simply titled Alexander Zonjic (1978), showcased his diverse musical palate. Elegant Evening (1982), Romance With You (1987) and When Is It Real (1988) found Zonjic continuing his eclectic journey into pop jazz and classically influenced melodies. Neon (1990) is a wonderful exploration of progressive jazz, created in collaboration with Bob James, Earl Klugh, vocalist Angela Bofill and producer/saxophonist Kirk Whalum. Showcasing his own technical and artistic mastery is Passion (1993), an extraordinary investigation of several musical periods and styles. With mentor Ervin Monroe, Zonjic collaborated on three separate projects. The Classical Album (1981), which features Zonjic, Monroe and the International Chamber Orchestra; Pipers Holiday (1995) a joyful survey of the spirit and sounds of Christmas and Night (1997), a unique recording which showcases some of the most beautiful and treasured melodies of all time. As a guest soloist, Zonjic was featured on Bob James’ Ivory Coast project, an album that featured Zonjic’s stellar flute on the hit track, Ashanti.
Zonjic has earned a special renown in Canada and his adopted home, the USA. The Detroit Free Press, describing his CD Passion, said, “Zonjic uses his flute like a magic wand.” Whether performing with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Windsor Symphony Orchestra or in recital with his mentors Ervin Monroe and Bob James, his trademark sound and unique personality are clear and unmistakable. The New York Times, in describing one of his appearances with Bob James at Carnegie Hall said, “Some of the musicians in Mr. James’ band were exceptional, especially the flutist Alexander Zonjic, who played duets with himself using echoed tape delay.”
The enchantment of Alexander Zonjic is demonstrated through his artistry, exuberance and charismatic personality. Recognizing all the qualities and knowledge that he communicates so well, CBS radio station WVMV-FM, Smooth Jazz V98.7 in Detroit, recruited Zonjic to host a daily morning show, heard from 5:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., Monday through Friday. As a morning host, Zonjic brings the breadth and depth of his musical knowledge, quick-wit and on-air insight of limitless musical genres to a large and loyal listening audience.
Two centuries ago Mozart created The Magic Flute, a beautiful opera in which the instrument transforms its possessors into supernatural beings. Alexander Zonjic continues the tradition of the transforming power of music. Through the magnificent sound of his flute and the strength of his unique character, he takes today’s audiences to special places of true enchantment – magnificent musical worlds made of vibration, space, color, meaning and above all, passion. Enjoy his magic.