Exuberant ZOLA at Scullers Jazz Club - By Beverly Creasey ( IRNE / THE THEATRE MIRROR )
She has those delicate, ethereal high notes which quiver with emotion, like Dolly Partons breathy coloratura. She writes her own material, as well---in almost every musical style: blues, country & western, romantic ballads, even an anthem for South Africa (where shes from). She has only one name and its Zola!
Zola does it all and she has a new CD, HERE WITH YOU, produced by wunderkind Doug Hammer, whose arrangements (for his kickin band) are shimmering. We all know Hammer can ignite a piano but who knew he could make orchestral magic, too.
Zola composes long, languorous songs. like the four and a half minute appropriately titled Long Long Time which has a lovely duet for Hammer and Trent Austin on trumpet and snappy, tongue in check send-ups like Cocoa Bean Blues( I get mean if Im deprived of my cocoa bean.) with Hammer jazzing it up in stride. Her slow, sexy, bluesy Worth Your While has a sassy, sultry trumpet solo for Austin which could heat up the Arctic and her In Another Lifetime will have you thinking of Olivia Newton Johns I Honestly Love You except Zolas song is sweeter.
Her songs have a startling immediacy like her plaintive, come hither [I need to be with you) Right Now which features Austins silky trumpet and Steve Chaggariss whispering beat on drums. She has fun (and gets down) with her funky Pin Stripe Blues and pays tribute to both her mother and her homeland with the hypnotic Mother Africa.
The standout song (which everyone should be covering) is the bittersweet Blue Rain. co-authored with Jon Seiff. They capture the wistful melancholy of an unforgettable lost love with literate rhymes and soft, echoing raindrops supplied by David Landoni on bass. Dreamy vocals, gorgeous orchestrations: Dont miss them next time Zola and Hammer come to Scullers for a party.
Reviews for here with you CD :
"I really enjoyed it. Your voice sounds really smooth as do your compositions and arrangements. Anton Fig - Drummer, CBS Orchestra for David Letterman
"I was blown away. Great performances by everyone, on this CD, as well as wonderful arrangements and production... Zola's original jazz/pop/cabaret songs and performances are a warm hug, a sensuous cuddle under a warm blanket a sense of 30s and 40s déjà vu from an ancient soul in a contemporary time a soulfully intimate, expressive voice that wraps around her timeless melodies and contemporary love lyrics like a blue mist. - John Braheny, Author: The Craft and Business of Songwriting (Writer's Digest Books) / Columnist: Music Biz Magazine
" ...really a beautiful, beautiful CD...." - Holly Harris - WBOS 92.9 - Blues on Sunday
"... a really talented band." -Virginia Prescott, WBUR - HERE & NOW
A fine piece of work....and (My Prayer) so timely with what is going on in the world. Sherrill Blackman SDB Music Group, Publisher,Nashville
"...listening to your CD...... I am floored and in love. The arrangements, your voice, your songs, your presence and intentions - all stellar. I really love this. " - Dane Vannatter - Recording Artist
"On .... Here With You, Zola brings her warm, voluptuous voice to a collection of her own songs......... Zola was raised in an environment well acquainted with love, need loss and hope, all of which become the building blocks of her original compositions..... her sultry vocals bring depth, texture and subtlety to every song, .....it is her rich nuanced vocals and musical director Doug Hammer's evocative arrangements that bring color and distinction to each song, yet maintain a quality of listenable cohesion about the whole. Pin Stripe Blues, the peppiest of the bunch, with a sizzling muted trumpet behind Zola's suggestive vocals, is New Orleans jazz all the way, while This Is How It Is could be sung by a teased-hair vinyl booted, mini-skirted country singer. .....But it is with Blue Rain, co-written with Jon Seiff, that Zola touches us most deeply, reflecting on the loss of a loved one. Zola sums up her life's philosophy in her closing number, My Prayer, an anthem of hope suitable for any vigil, as reassuring as a mothers hug, and as forward reaching as a child's soul." - John Amodeo, Cabaret Scenes Magazine
.I love the great mood pieces and what a beautiful voice .its filled with so much air and light . Beth Nielsen Chapman Hit Songwriter, Performing Artist and Grammy Nominee
very strong songs with beautiful musical changes Jason Blume, Hit Songwriter and Author
"When thinking of Zola and American Popular music, the one word that comes to mind is "savoir". Her voice and compositions have an emotion and romance that wrap around you like the sounds of days gone by, with a command of the heart that is rarely found in music today." --Eric Preusser, Producer- Magnetic Music
.good hooks and such pretty melodies Ralph Murphy, Hit Songwriter, Assistant VP ASCAP, Nashville
"Zola's performance really impressed me. She is a talented songwriter with a wonderful personality and a great voice. " --Ron Gill, Jazz DJ-WGBH Radio, 89.7 FM BOSTON.
I was so blown away by (Zolas) incredible show last night!!! . (Her) songs were magnificent, I was so drawn into every single one of them. (Her) lyrics made me feel like I was a part of (her) life and the music made me feel as warm and comfortable as (she does herself) as a person. (Her) voice was crystal clear and beautiful and (her) sensuality was exuding!!! I didn't want it to end .. amazing!!! - Krisanthi (Jazz performing artist and songwriter)
I just watched your video and was mesmerized all over again!... You are so wonderful to watch and listen to! PLEASE do another concert! - Krisanthi
Reviews for on the Blue Side CD :
"Zola covers the songs ......with a voice that's alluring and sensuous, . a truly wonderful listening experience." --Metronome Magazine, May 2002.
"This disc is major chill....a lullaby of fantastic blues/jazz/pop ballads. The inspired lyrics are delivered with clarity, heart and wistful passion." -Impact Press, "Top Picks," August 2002
"The beautiful voice of Zola combined with the songs from Jon Seiff makes for a wonderful combination. Jon's songs are wonderful in themselves but Zola takes Jon's songs and adds a special touch ." --Purr Magazine, January 2003