Zonjic has lots to celebrate

Alexander Zonjic
Alexander Zonjic

It doesn t seem possible, but the always-energetic, always-enthusiastic Alexander Zonjic is even more energetic and enthusiastic than usual.

The veteran jazz flutist is flying high over his role as part owner of Seldom Blues, a new restaurant and jazz club in Detroit s Renaissance Center that is getting raves as one of the finest jazz supper clubs in the nation.

And Zonjic, who will perform a Pipers Holiday concert Sunday in Monroe s Frenchtown Square Mall, has just released his newest CD, also titled Seldom Blues, on the Heads Up International label.

The disc features a stellar lineup of guest artists including Bob James, Jeff Lorber, Earl Klugh, Angela Bofill, Peter White, and Kirk Whalum.

I didn t hire anyone for this record, Zonjic said. I just called my friends.

In a recent interview from his Detroit offices, Zonjic said he feels incredibly blessed to be at a point in his career where he can call on his buddies to join him in concert and on his recording sessions.

Nobody was hired for this album in the sense of me calling them up and saying, Hi, this is Alexander Zonjic, would you please play on my record? Zonjic said. I just called my friends and they were all available, or made themselves available, and they all contributed in so many ways. I just feel very, very lucky that that can happen. I feel incredibly blessed.

He said the album s title came from a conversation with James, the renowned smooth-jazz keyboardist with whom Zonjic has collaborated numerous times over the years.

I said to Bob: I really want to name the CD Seldom Blues, and I want you to write me a tune Zonjic recalled. Bob not only wrote the song, but he wrote it with his daughter Hilary.

James plays keyboards on the CD s title track, and the vocals on the song Seldom Blues are performed by KEM, the Detroit singer whose Motown Records debut, Kemistry, recently went Gold.

Zonjic said he enjoys playing holiday concerts like the one in Monroe on Sunday.

There s not an instrumentalist or a vocal artist on the planet who doesn t like doing Christmas music or holiday music, he said. There s just something about those songs. It s great fun to do a Christmas concert. And the logic behind doing a show in the mall is that when you think of the holidays, you think of shoppers. So you have large crowds and great energy. We did it last year in the mall and it was a lot of fun.

Joining him in the Pipers Holiday concert will be Barb Ogar and her student flute choir, and Detroit jazz singer Kimmie Horn.

Zonjic s new restaurant, which he co-owns with Detroit Lions football player Robert Porcher, restaurateur Frank Taylor, and chef Jerry Nottage, opened in June and already has attracted a number of celebrity guests including Aretha Franklin, P Diddy, and Leonardo DiCaprio.

It s a beautiful restaurant and it s been a treat to be a part of that project, Zonjic said. There s nothing subtle about the place. It s stunning. It s huge. It s 17,000 square feet. We have 130 people on staff. It s got two beautiful bars. It s got a Steinway grand piano on the stage. It brings a lot of energy to downtown Detroit.

In addition to his concerts, recordings, and restaurant, Zonjic hosts a jazz show from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m. Monday through Friday on WVMV-FM (98.7).

Alexander Zonjic will perform a free Pipers Holiday concert with Barb Ogar and her student flute choir, and jazz singer Kimmie Horn from 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday in the Frenchtown Square Mall, 2121 North Monroe St., Monroe. The concert will be on a stage in front of the food court, where musical entertainment begins at noon. Information: 734-242-9150.

Contact David Yonke at:dyonke@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.