“Saxophones played by guitarist Zack Varner further mix things up on “Out of The Dark,” the title track, which is the most creative cut on the album, with the sound of singing Himalayan yogis in the distance and cymbals crashing like waves make this a haunting and unique track.”
Growing up, Zack Varner was a middle school saxophone player with an insatiable curiosity for music. Living north of Atlanta, GA, a thriving southern metropolis, he was able to experience a broad and diverse range of musical styles. “I was able to experience the Atlanta Symphony, a lot of traditional blues and roots music, southern rock, bluegrass, sacred music, choral music, chamber music, jam bands, hip hop, you name it.” Some of his music and non-music influences are Bob Dylan, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Hunter S. Thompson, Fleet Foxes, Carl Jung, The Silver Seas and more. In his current hometown of Austin, Texas, he has performed with artists Maria Schneider, Joshua Redman and Jennifer Holliday. He performs at venues throughout the city with his own group, and numerous other jazz, funk, rock, pop, Latin groups and musical theater productions. Zack recently released his first studio album Blues in the Nude.
Zack’s mother and father loved music and made sure that he had a rich foundation to draw from. His mother, studied music and taught him how to play piano and guitar when he was only 6 years old. His father introduced him to their record collection which included The Beatles, Beethoven, Joni Mitchell, The Doors, folk, classic rock and more. Zack’s father died when he was fourteen, and music was an incredible outlet for the pain and confusion he was experiencing. It helped him to communicate with people when he couldn’t express himself with conversation, and he was able to understand the world better through sound. Music gave his world meaning and it was something positive and clear in an often gloomy place.
Blues in the Nude draws from a wide range of influences, from the broad stylistic spectrum that is jazz, blues, various Latin American styles including tango and bossa nova, hard bop, tinges of rock and avant-garde. All songs were written by Zack. Blues in the Nude was recorded at Greenhaven Studio in Austin. The CD was produced by Zack, engineered by George Oldziey, mixed by Mario Castellanos and mastered by Charlie Kramsky. All songs were written by Zack. The musicians on Blues in the Nude include: Zack Varner (alto and tenor saxophones), Ross Margitza (piano), Daniel Durham (bass), Wayne Salzmann II (drums), Ilia De La Rosa (cello), Carter Arrington (guitar), Mark Gonzalez (trombone), Adrian Ruiz (trumpet) and Bennett Wood (alto saxophone, tenor saxophone). “I wrote a tune called "Blues in the Nude" and it seemed like a good title for the album. There's also a genuine feel to the record, it's stripped of pretense, so I suppose the title runs along that theme. It's my first record as a bandleader too, so perhaps it's my way of saying, "Here's who I am and what I do, take it or leave it. This is how I play and these are the tunes I wrote."
From 2005-2009 Zack toured the United States extensively with the Atlanta based rock quartet Jungol releasing two acclaimed albums: Places and Tiny Heaven. He was an integral part of the quartet contributing as songwriter and multi-instrumental performer. Music education has always been an important aspect of Varner’s life and he has studied pedagogy, performance, theory, history, and composition extensively, and has earned a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and a doctorate of musical arts. He is currently a woodwinds instructor at the Eastside Music School in Austin, and teaches saxophone, clarinet and jazz improvisation with the Austin SoundWaves program (via the Hispanic Alliance). In 2017, he was hired as saxophone instructor at the Sommergroove music program in Knivsberg, Denmark and will resume that position in the Summer of 2018.
Zack will be performing in Austin and will be performing in Denmark this summer.
Zack Varner info: