Not only has guitarist Neil Zaza helped to define the genre of melodic instrumental guitar, he has become a worldwide ambassador for the instrument itself. His melodic compositions have changed the way musicians play, and what audiences worldwide demand out of their guitar heroes.
With fiery technical brilliance and breathtaking musical interpretation, Neil Zaza has defined himself as the instrumental guitarist with an unparalleled ability to combine solid, catchy songwriting with a keen melodic sense and technical fury.
From his virtuoso rock solos, to laying a funk groove, to demonstrating his classical prowess by performing Bach and Mozart compositions, Zaza’s extreme versatility has been showcased worldwide in concerts, clinics, festivals, as well as on his own solo instrumental albums. Zaza has shared the bill with Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Dweezil Zappa, Steve & Mike Porcaro (Toto), Yngwie Malmsteen, Vinnie Moore, and Andy Summers. He has performed on albums by Dweezil Zappa, Eric Carmen, Michael Stanley and also supplied guitar tracks for a Stewart Copeland-produced movie soundtrack.
It all began… in Akron, Ohio, where Neil Zaza was born, and stillresides. Zaza started playing guitar at the age of 10 and went on to study classical guitar at The University of Akron under renowned educator and performer Stephen Aron. Zaza began to teach guitar, and in 1987 he formed the rock band Zaza, which quickly became one of the hottest U.S. touring bands at that time. After a successful run and even a hit song “Maybe Tomorrow”, the band disbanded and a brilliant solo career began.
In 1992, Zaza released his first solo album,Two Hands, One Heart The world of instrumental music would never be the same again. Critics hailed the album and guitar players instantly had a new hero. There was a clearly unique voice in the music, one only beginning to define itself.
Two Hands, One Heart was followed-up by Thrills and Chills in 1993, recorded with famed San Antonio producer/artist Michael Morales. Later that year, Zaza was as a guest soloist with The Hartford Symphony Orchestra, performing “1492” and a guitar interpretation of “West Side Story.” In 1996 he was a featured performer at the Montreal Guitar Festival. Sing , Zaza’s third album, was released in 1997. Sing launched Zaza into super-stardom in the instrumental world with the monster hit “I’m Alright.” It remains one of the most popular and challenging songs for guitarists to learn, and continues to influence new generations of players. There are even ring tones and dance-mix versions of the song in Asia. This proved to only be the beginning. Zaza’s fourth album, Staring at The Sun , which featured Ross Valory, Steve Smith and Stuart
Hamm, was a masterpiece of melodic instrumental rock. It’s blazing fast solos, rich melodies and soulful ballads, including a stunning cover of Prince’s “Purple Rain”, wowed fans, impressed critics and permanently launched Neil Zaza into the upper elite of guitar virtuosos. The release of this album proved to be a defining moment in his career.
December 2001 saw the birth of a new holiday tradition for fans of instrumental rock. Neil unveiled One Silent Night…, an instrumental take on traditional Christmas songs that could be described as “Hendrix meets Beethoven under the Christmas tree.” These holiday concerts have become an annual tradition and are among the best selling holiday shows at the famePlayhouse Square theaters in Cleveland Ohio. The One Silent Night…shows have featured choirs and even a 60-piece symphony orchestra. Neil has released two studio CDs ( One Silent Night… Volumes 1 & 2) of his unique take on holiday music as well as a double live CD (A Nightat the Palace) capturing and documenting this groundbreaking holiday event.
2003 was a hugely successful year for Neil Zaza. In February he founded Melodik Records, which is based out of his hometown of Akron, Ohio. Later that year Zaza garnered a headlining spot at the revered Busan International Rock Festival in South Korea. Zaza stunned the capacity crowd of over 15,000. Performing overseas is nothing new. Zaza, one of the hottest guitar acts overseas has also become one of the guitar world’s most sought-after educators and now maintains a worldwide year-round clinic tour schedule. Recent tours have traveled to China, Taiwan, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands, Poland and Italy to name a few.