Get this crazy baby off my head!


Neil Zaza

Neil Zaza - 212 - 2011 - Melodik Records

Neil Zaza is a melodic instrumental guitarist who has become well known for his technical accuracy and adaptation of classical works by Bach and Mozart into his own blend of neo-classical, melodic, guitar instrumentals. Before beginning a solo career, Neil Zaza formed in 1987 the rock band ZAZA which toured U.S. and released an album called Party With The Big Boys in 1991. After his second solo album, Zaza was as a guest soloist with The Hartford Symphony Orchestra, performing “1492” and a guitar interpretation of “West Side Story”. His CDs often include guest appearances by veteran musicians including: Jordan Rudess - keyboard player from Dream Theater appears on his When Gravity Fails CD; Michael Anthony - bass player from world famous Van Halen and Chickenfoot appears on his When Gravity Fails CD and his current studio project in progress; Steve Smith and Ross Valory - from Journey appeared on his Staring at the Sun CD. He has also shared the stage with notable guitarists such as Joe Satriani and Michael Angelo Batio. He holds an annual concert called One Silent Night at the Palace Theater in Cleveland with the backing of the 60 piece Cleveland Rock Orchestra and features his adaptation of popular Christmas songs to his melodic style. Zaza is known for dramatic entrances, often suddenly appearing from behind projector screens to provide his signature brand of neo-classical guitar virtuosity. – WIKI

When I first heard Neil's music more than 15 years ago, I immediately got interested; it was the kind of melodic instrumental guitar music that my "gods" had done so exceptionally well. So I started following Neil's career, kept buying his albums and it was always the same melodic, memorable, both fiery and moody playing that never failed to satisfy. Years have gone and when people kept asking about my favorite players I started mentioning him along with Satriani and Vai. Basically that means he made an unlikely metamorphosis from a human to a god. How come? Honestly, I don't know. He did nothing special along the way, he didn't reinvent or revolutionize the way guitar is being played, didn't invent new techniques, new effects, not even new sounds, he has never been the fastest (or the slowest) hand. Neil Zaza simply kept writing great songs that consequently made great albums. Consistently, with continuous passion and obvious joy that shines from his albums. Regardless if you listen to "The Joof" which is (OMG!) almost 2 decades old now or "Go!" from the new record, the attitude and the passion is obvious there. That's how you rise to the gods. Simple, ain't it? :) The new album starts out with an intro "Magnus 212" which is an integral part of the first "real" track, the above-mentioned "Go!", the typical Zaza stomper with catchy hooks and cool licks. If you don't like this song, you won't like any of his albums. "King of the World" follows in the same vein, its main melodies stick in your ear and won't get out for a couple of days. "Is This Wonderland?" is the typical moody Zaza ballad with a 2011 sound. My personal favorite was the ultramelodic "If this is Goodbye" yet many will love the cover versions: "Message in the Bottle" by Police and "Take on Me" by A-ha. Honestly I enjoyed Neil's take on Price's "Purple Rain" a lot more than any of these and the A-ha track does nothing for me musically except for its slowly climaxing crescendo part towards the 2/3 of the song yet it will most definitely be a concert favorite due to its uptempo jumping nature and its widely known main melody. Now that Neil Zaza is in the same league as Joe Satriani, it's safe to say that the 15 bucks investment you need to make to get these 45 minutes of high-profile instrumental guitar playing is a safe one, you will keep playing the album for the next 30-50 years. Review by & © Endre 'Bandi' Hübner 2011 RockUnited.Com http://rockunitedreviews.blogspot.ie/2011/04/neil-zaza-212.html

Recently I have had the pleasure of interviewing guitar virtuoso Neil Zaza on “Live From Music City,” about the release of his new CD “212.” Having known about Zaza’s work in the past, I was eager to hear the new music. In my opinion, it’s hard to find a guitar instrumentalist that has his own “voice” and composes songs and melodies in such a rare way that as a listener, you don’t need to hear a vocalist to completely enjoy the music. Zaza is that sort of guitar player. Zaza likes to play in major keys to keep the music sounding positive and happy, which I think is great, as most rock guitar players primarily play in minor tonalities. It’s a real experience to put on the headphones and be bombarded with such expressive and amazing songs. Starting with the first track “Magnus,” Zaza pulls out all the stops. With a huge arrangement for a short song that is basically an intro, it is big, majestic and a gorgeous piece of music. The next song “Go!” is jumped right into from the previous track and hits you with a lively beat and never lets you go! It’s like being on a rollercoaster on a clear sunny day. The melody wins here, as it keeps you singing along with it. “King of The World” changes the feel a bit with an opening of jangly guitars and a soaring melody line that sweeps you off your feet. It is a fine, mid-tempo song with great dynamic breaks and, as always, Zaza’s tasty playing. “Is This Wonderland?” opens with a whimsical keyboard and a softer guitar line to follow with less distortion. It leads into a more full instrumental track with a nice slow feel that makes you just want to sit back and take it all in. “To The Moon and Back” sets you into a nice slow groove with very little instrumentation to start before coming in with some big hits. Again the melody lifts you up and takes you places that most music never will. “Baroque Sky” opens with a melancholy feel before pulling you in with very deep melodic tones and big guitar chords. Zaza never allows the music to do anything but keep you totally enthralled with what the melody line is doing. The chorus builds with huge guitars and ascending notes and brings you back down gently to let your ears appreciate what they just experienced. “If This is Goodbye” starts with a single jangly guitar and simple melody line. With a bit more of a bluesy feel, it’s a departure from the other tracks and so tastefully done. The organ provides a nice back drop for the guitar to play against, the rhythm perfectly in the pocket. Then Bam! Out of nowhere comes Zaza with a huge melody line. His use of dynamics is the sign of a great arranger and it shows on this song. “Wild Horses” comes in with a drum groove and a drone guitar before the melody accompanies it. It’s very simple and beautiful. Arpeggiated guitars fill it out and the song gets a boost from the rhythm section. Zaza’s use of laying guitars stands out and the melody provides a bounce in your step for this fun stop. With flashes of speed and mostly just really well played melody lines, “Wild Horses” makes you feel like you are out there with them. “The Beauty” starts with a finger picked clean guitar and Zaza laying a melody line over it with just a touch more gain. The song lives up to its name as it lulls you in with a sweet soft melody and then brings you up to a new height with its chorus. Harmony lines peppered throughout this song complete this beautiful romantic piece and makes you want to take that special someone for a long walk and remember why you are with them in the first place. Next up is a cover of The Police’s “Message In A Bottle” which is a refreshing take on the original. While a bit of a heavier feel, it’s very playful and never loses the sense of what the original brought. Zaza captures the melody perfectly, you don’t miss the vocals at all. This is very well done and shows just how well he is able to capture the spirit of the song and make it even better! Finally, Zaza gives us his version of Ah-Ha’s “Take On Me.” A fun cover that actually made me like this song again after all the overplay it got. He has a knack for taking familiar songs and making them very fresh and exciting. In summary, “212” is an outstanding musical effort from Neil Zaza. Mr. Zaza is the type of player that knows exactly what to play, when to play it and never over does it. He is incredibly melodic and a very mature songwriter and each song on this CD showcases that. One of the best instrumental albums I have heard in years and on par with the other greats of this genre such as Andy Timmons, Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. 5 out of 5 stars! Note: At the time of this writing, The Lowry Agency has no affiliation with Neil Zaza. By & © David Lowry http://lowryagency.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/review-of-the-cd-212-from-neil-zaza/

Good melodic instrumental album from guitarist Neil Zaza from Akron, Ohio. Even the mention of “Melodic” guitar puts many people off, but Neil has never pretended to be a Wayne Krantz or Allan Holdsworth. He is a technically brilliant guitarist and has released some exceptional albums but is still a relatively obscure name in the instrumental rock scene. His playing is fiery and the “melodies” are not “syrupy” or commercial. All his songs are well crafted and memorable, and this is a hugely enjoyable album. You really don't need to be a guitar head to enjoy the music on this album. It’s always great to hear guitar played so exceptionally well by a true guitar maestro. Listen to Neil’s “When Gravity Fails” album and support real music [All tracks @ 320 Kbps: File size = 95.5 Mb]


1. Magnus 212
2. Go!
3. King of the World
4. Is This Wonderland?
5. To the Moon and Back
6. Baroque Sky
7. If This is Goodbye
8. Wild Horses
9. The Beauty
10. Message in a Bottle [Bonus]
11. Take On Me [Bonus]

All songs composed by Neil Zaza except Track 8 by Neil Zaza & Brian Campbell, Track 9 by Brian Campbell, Track 10 by Sting, and Track 11 by Pål Waaktaar, Magne Furuholmen, & Morten Harket


Neil Zaza - Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Mandolin, Programming
Brian Campbell - Additional Guitars on Track 9
Walter Cerasani - Bass on Tracks 3,5,6,7
Todd Rogers - Hammond B3, Piano
Timothy M Bradford - Piano on Track 5
Garrett Janos - Drums
Fabio Colella - Drums on Tracks 6,7


Not only has guitarist Neil Zaza helped to define the genre of melodic instrumental guitar, he has become a worldwide ambassador for the instrument itself. His melodic compositions have changed the way musicians play, and what audiences worldwide demand out of their guitar heroes. With fiery technical brilliance and breathtaking musical interpretation, Neil Zaza has defined himself as the instrumental guitarist with an unparalleled ability to combine solid, catchy songwriting with a keen melodic sense and technical fury. From his virtuoso rock solos, to laying a funk groove, to demonstrating his classical prowess by performing Bach and Mozart compositions, Zaza's extreme versatility has been showcased worldwide in concerts, clinics, festivals, as well as on his own solo instrumental albums. Zaza has shared the bill with Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Dweezil Zappa, Steve & Mike Porcaro (Toto), Yngwie Malmsteen, Vinnie Moore, and Andy Summers among countless others. He has performed on albums by Dweezil Zappa, Eric Carmen, Michael Stanley and also supplied guitar tracks for a Stewart Copeland-produced movie soundtrack. It all began... in Akron, Ohio, where Neil Zaza was born, and still resides. Zaza started playing guitar at the age of 10 and went on to study classical guitar at The University of Akron under renowned educator and performer Stephen Aron. Zaza began to teach guitar, and in 1987 he formed the rock band Zaza, which quickly became one of the hottest U.S. touring bands at that time. After a successful run and even a hit song "Maybe Tomorrow" , the band disbanded and a brilliant solo career began. In 1992, Zaza released his first solo album, Two Hands, One Heart. The world of instrumental music would never be the same again. Critics hailed the album and guitar players instantly had a new hero. There was a clearly unique voice in the music, one only beginning to define itself. Two Hands, One Heart was followed-up by Thrills and Chills in 1993, recorded with famed San Antonio producer/artist Michael Morales. Later that year, Zaza was as a guest soloist with The Hartford Symphony Orchestra, performing 1492 and a guitar interpretation of West Side Story. In 1996 he was a featured performer at the Montreal Guitar Festival. Sing, Zaza's third album, was released in 1997. Sing launched Zaza into super-stardom in the instrumental world with the monster hit "I'm Alright". It remains one of the most popular and challenging songs for guitarists to learn, and continues to influence new generations of players. There are even ring tones and dance-mix versions of the song in Asia. This proved to only be the beginning. Zaza's fourth album, Staring at The Sun, which featured Ross Valory, Steve Smith and Stuart Hamm, was a masterpiece of melodic instrumental rock. It's blazing fast solos, rich melodies and soulful ballads, including a stunning cover of Prince's "Purple Rain", wowed fans, impressed critics and permanently launched Neil Zaza into the upper elite of guitar virtuosos. The release of this album proved to be a defining moment in his career. With Staring at the Sun, Neil ushered in a new era that defined his vision in composition, melodic approach, and tone. This CD provided a gateway to the Neil Zaza we know today. December 2001 saw the birth of a new holiday tradition for fans of instrumental rock. Neil unveiled One Silent Night..., an instrumental take on traditional Christmas songs that could be described as "Hendrix meets Beethoven under the Christmas tree". These holiday concerts have become an annual tradition and are among the best selling holiday shows at the famed Playhouse Square theaters in Cleveland Ohio. The One Silent Night... shows have featured choirs and even a 60-piece symphony orchestra. Neil has released two studio CDs (One Silent Night... Volumes 1 & 2) of his unique take on holiday music as well as a double live CD (A Night at the Palace) capturing and documenting this groundbreaking holiday event. 2003 was a hugely successful year for Neil Zaza. In February he founded Melodik Records, which is based out of his hometown of Akron, Ohio. Later that year Zaza garnered a headlining spot at the revered Busan International Rock Festival in South Korea. Zaza stunned the capacity crowd of over 15,000. Performing overseas is nothing new. Zaza, one of the hottest guitar acts overseas has also become one of the guitar world's most sought-after educators and now maintains a worldwide year-round clinic tour schedule. Recent tours have traveled to China, Taiwan, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands, Poland and Italy to name a few. Guitar manufactures around the globe regularly approach Neil for endorsements on signature guitars. 2004 saw the release of the Cort Neil Zaza NZS-1 signature model. Guitar fans quickly snatched up the signature models and it went on to be one of Cort's best selling models of all time. This was followed up shortly after with a newer model (NZS-2). In 2011, Neil signed on with Carvin Guitars and was pivotal in bringing a new 24 fret carved top guitar to market. Neil Zaza is a frequent guest at the prestigious Winter NAMM Convention and a regular on the guitar clinic circuit around the world. Neil has been featured in a variety of international guitar publications over the years and even garnered the cover of such magazines as Music Music, Guitar Fan, Guitar Shop, Modern Player and Poland's Guitar & Bass, as well as technical music disciplines Home Recording, Musician, EQ, and Electronic Musician. Numerous readers' polls have also been won for Best Guitarist in worldwide publications. Locally, the coveted Best Guitarist Award was won at The Free Times Music Awards in both 2005 & 2006. Neil's latest CD is 212 which was released on February 12, 2011. 212 holds a special place for Neil as it represents a magical number for him. For years, the number 212 keeps popping up in places where Neil plays, lives and travels. Numerology aside, 212 takes Neil's playing to new levels by demonstrating his ability to write songs that combine his highly advanced technical prowess and accurate speed with strong melodic hooks and unforgettable melodies. This combination is deadly and sure to set the watermark for how expressive and emotive a guitarist can be. "It's always been about the song for me", states Neil. "I remember all the tunes that really moved me when I was growing up and it wasn't about the guitarist playing 128th notes. It was about an inexplicable connection I felt drawing me to wear out my records as I couldn't get enough of that rush of the song itself! That's what I try and do with my music today and 212 in specific. It's always about the song!" With the new 212 CD now released worldwide, Neil is preparing to bring his unique and innovative style of melodic guitar playing to even great audiences worldwide. To see the global impact that Neil has made with his playing, tune into YouTube and see what over 1.6 million fans have witnessed on his video of him performing his hit "I'm Alright". The combination is deadly and sure to set the watermark for how expressive and emotive a guitarist can be. This unique voice continues to evolve... © http://www.neilzaza.com/about/biography.asp


A.O.O.F.C said...


P/W is aoofc

francisco santos said...

nice one Paul...THX !

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,amigo! You're always v.welcome. TVM & TTU later...Paul