Zvonimir Tot (z-VON-e-mere TOTE) is a jazz guitarist, composer, and arranger with a style deeply rooted in the jazz tradition but flavored by his European origin. His twisty trek to America has resulted in an unusual collection of degrees: a Bachelor's degree in jazz guitar and music education from Franz Liszt Academy of Musical Arts in Budapest; another Bachelor’s, in jazz performance, from Amsterdam Conservatory in The Netherlands; and a Master's in composition and jazz studies from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. Tot has performed and/or recorded in The Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Yugoslavia, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Croatia, with such world-renowned musicians as violinist Johnny Frigo, saxist Billy Harper, the British saxist Peter King, drummer Paul Wertico, and the late Danish bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen. Tot currently teaches at the University of Illinois (Chicago) and College of DuPage in the Chicago suburbs, and also maintains a private teaching studio.
On his stunning new CD, TRAVELS AND DREAMS, guitarist Zvonimir Tot successfully blends the passion of his eastern European roots with his unique journeys into contemporary American jazz. Backed by the great team of trumpeter Art Davis, bassist Nick Tountas and drummer Rusty Jones, Zvonimir showcases his dazzling technique and soulful heart on an eclectic array of dynamic and appealing originals.
Zvonimir Tot is the hot new voice in the world of jazz guitar virtuosos.
Chicago Jazz Magazine
...Tot is not only an able craftsman, but a musical personality. ...(Z. T.), with the looks of a young Demis Roussos, is an extrovert soloist who plays from the heart. He improvises with a typical Balkan singing quality, an intense feeling for the blues, rich imagination, and unbelievably fast fingers.
Jeroen de Valk
Dutch jazz critic
Het Parool, Amsterdam
What makes jazz so vibrant is its sponge-like ability to incorporate different styles and cultural perspectives. On Travels and Dreams guitarist and composer Zvonimir Tot, who now calls Chicago home, skillfully mines his Eastern European roots and virtuoso technique to produce an especially appealing mix of ballads, bop, funk, bossa nova and bluesy originals. A team of trumpeter Art Davis, bassist Nick Tountas, and Rusty Jones, on drums, the quartet delivers tunes that are skillfully composed, packed solid with rich imagination, and most importantly, a delight to hear. Take, for example, "Song for my Mother (Pesma Za Moju Majku)," a melodic duo on which Tot and Tountas trade relaxed solos. Another outstanding ballad, "The Rainbow Bridge," in 3/4 time, showcases the solo talent of all the quartet's members. The pace picks up substantially on "King's Ransom," a burner featuring Zvonimor's dynamic chord changes and devilishly quick single-note vamps. On "A Sketch for Libby," a short three-minute tune, Zvonimir, finds a way to include a variety of styles: gypsy folk music, American blues, and a small touch of flamenco. Because of his eclectic style it's impossible to compare Zvonimir to other great jazz guitarist such as Joe Pass, Jesse van Ruller, Bucky Pizzarelli, Joshua Breakstone, or Pat Metheny. Suffice it to say that Travels and Dreams is a remarkable disc and Zvonimir Tot is someone deserving far greater recognition.
All About Jazz
Lookout for Zvonimir! Here's a new guy from eastern Europe who has done his jazz homework. His sound is inspired by all, from Kenny Burrell to Pat Metheny but yet distinctly his own. Plus, he gives us some new content to ponder and enjoy with both his compositions and story-line solos. Backed by three of Chicago's finest, this recording will open some doors for Zvonimir and give listeners a new guitar treat.
Marshall Vente, WDCB 90.9 FM, Chicago on CD, Jazz Institute of Chicago
There is much to recommend on this CD of original compositions by Zvonimir Tot. His virtuoso guitar technique heard in the company of three of Chicago's finest jazz musicians has much to offer to the adventurous and serious jazz lover.
Prof. Richard Wang
Jazz educator and publicist
Former President, Jazz Institute of Chicago
Travels and Dreams
Zvonimir Tot, guitar; Art Davis, trumpet, flugelhorn; Nick Tountas, bass; Rusty Jones, drums; guests, Steven Hashimoto, electric bass; Bryan Nichols, keyboards
Zvonimir Tot offers us some interesting sounds and styles with this new CD; all songs were composed and arranged by him, with the exception of the traditional "Voda Zvira", which he arranged. A good set of musicians line up to play with him; the cool, electric trumpet playing of Art Davis is most noticeably to the fore; he possesses a pure straight tone that would enhance any set of tunes. Tot is an inspirational player of the guitar; one would never guess his eastern European roots; he is a physically large man, and can be an expansive player, an example of this is "Magician's Kingdom", his largamente style feels like one big stretch. "Pamela's Song", is a delightful ballad played sensitively on the flugelhorn by Art Davis, a player who has no side to him; his sound goes straight to the heart. The tunes move through fusion, funk, bossa nova, swing, ballads and a touch of bop. In "A Sketch For Libby" Tot plays solo guitar and proves what a fine player he is. The two front men have just the right support from the bass of Nick Tountas and the drums of Rusty Jones. A CD with plenty to offer.
by Ferdinand Maylin, JazzNow