Muskegon, Michigan, July 31, 2018 – Known across the U.S. for his hot shows featuring cool jazz, flutist Alexander Zonjic returns to kick off the 2018-2019 5th Anniversary Season at The Block at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, August 23. For his third annual appearance at The Block, Zonjic has invited 11-year-old keyboard prodigy Justin Schultz, who wowed audiences on Harry Connick’s TV program last November, to join him along with his sister Jamie on drums and their father Julius on bass. An émigré of South Africa, Julius is an established jazz musician in his own right whose recorded output includes the 2013 CD Color Blind on the Universal label.
The concert also marks the opening of Muskegon’s 2018 Shoreline Jazz Festival, of which Alexander Zonjic is artistic director. “It’s never the same ole same ole,” says Zonjic. “I’m always looking forward.” The Windsor native began his career as an R&B guitarist, taking up the flute and switching to classical and jazz in his early 20s. His classical career includes collaborating on three projects with Ervin Monroe, former DSO principal flute: The Classical Album (1981), Christmas-themed Pipers Holiday (1995) and Night (1997). On the jazz side, he toured and recorded with pianist Bob James in the ‘80s and ‘90s and has collaborated with saxophonist Kenny G, trumpeter Rick Braun, guitarists Earl Klugh and Peter White, pianists Jeff Lorber and James Lloyd, and vocalists Kem, Maysa Leak and Angela Bofill, among others.
For jazz lovers, The Block season has much else to offer: the organ jazz of Organissimo on October 6; guitar duo Goran Ivanovic and Fareed Haque’s Balkan-flavored flamenco jazz on November 17; and the piano jazz of the Emmet Cohen Trio on March 2. These concerts are available on a new 4-concert Jazz/World Music series package available for $90 for regular seating and $126 for table seating.
Classical chamber music is featured on the new five-concert WMS Unplugged series. This will include principal clarinet Jonathan Holden and woodwind friends (November 3); principal percussion Matt Beck, along with fellow percussionist Andrew Spencer and two guest pianists (January 19); classical pianist Alessio Bax (February 2); world-famous guitarist Sharon Isbin (May 11); and pianist Natasha Paremski (June 8). The Unplugged series is offered for $90 and $149.
Other guests on The Block series include cabaret singer/pianist Paul Langford and his quartet (December 1); crossover chamber group Sybarite 5 (February 8); and folksters Harpeth Rising (March 23). These are featured, along with other offerings, on a six-concert Sampler series available for $128 and $179.
Operated by West Michigan Symphony, The Block is a modern, intimate performance space in a restored 1890s warehouse in downtown Muskegon. It boasts state of the art lighting, sound and electronic equipment; a beautifully restored 1971 Steinway B grand piano; and an outdoor deck made with recycled materials. Its 12-concert core series for the musically curious is unique in the community, offering a valuable complement to the West Michigan Symphony and other larger presentations at the nearby Frauenthal Center. Subscribers to The Block save up to 20% off single tickets and receive their choice of seating in advance of the general public.
The Block’s mission is to be Muskegon’s musical third place. Sociologist Ray Oldenburg coined the term “third places” for venues that are anchors of community life and broader, creative interaction. The venue features thoughtful and varied program curation that attracts a diverse audience; hands-on music education activities for young people; and an affordable space for community meetings and gatherings. Since its inception in 2013, The Block has produced nearly 150 events serving more than 7,000 people.
Single tickets are priced at $25-$35, $10 for students with ID. To subscribe or order single tickets, call 231.726.3231 or visit TheBlockWestMichigan.org.