Review of Life on earth by Nocturnal Four (Ratko Zjaca), IN+OUT Records, 2018
Track Listing: Baracoa; Sense Of Mission; Mind Your Step; Shapes And Light; There Is No Tomorrow; Here Nothing Begins; Guanajo; Finding Our Place; Colours Of Dance.
Jazz and guitar. Where are they going? I have been asking myself this question for a while. The sector seems to me a litte bit in crisis, fragmented. After the growth, the transformations of the 80s and 90s, it seems to me there is some problem of identity. A fairly normal thing, thinking about the development that has existed in the past and the very high quality level achieved by champions such as Pat Metheny, John McLaughglin, Allan Holdsworth, etc. Many guitarists have moved to more experimental areas, sharing the ideas of free improvisation, of free jazz, perhaps even approaching contemporary academic music.
Others have continued on this path, shifting the research work towards greater elaboration of the dialogues between the musicians and on the conquest of the ideal tone for the instruments.
It seems to me that this is the case of this cd “Life on Earth”, by the Nocturnal Four quartet, led by guitarist Ratko Zjaca together with Stefano Bedetti (tenor & soprano saxophone), Renato Chicco (Hammnd organ) and Antonio Sanchez on drums, who played with Pat Metheny. Is there life on earth? Surely there is on this record. The Nocturnal Four perform a perfect, polished and almost aerodynamic, pulsating and precise work. Ratko Zjaca’s guitar moves sinuously and safely in a music characterized by a velvety and twilight nature. The Nocturnal Four propose an elegant and sophisticated jazz, far from both Winton Marsalis and free jazz ideas. Perhaps, in the end, “Life on earth” is simply a very good record.