Pianist, composer and arranger Dave Zoller will headline Cameron University's 33rd Annual Jazz Festival, scheduled for Thursday, March 12 at 8 p.m. in the University Theater. The event will also feature performances by the Cameron University Jazz Ensemble and the Cameron/Lawton Community Jazz Ensemble, both directed by John Moots, Assistant Professor of Music. The festival will feature a wide variety of traditional big band jazz music. Admission to the event is free.
A native of Tiffin, Ohio, Dave Zoller began piano studies at age 6 but didn't become really interested in music "until I was 13; when I heard a Dave Brubeck record, that was it! I became a big music nut and went back to the piano, trying to teach myself to play some of the things I had been listening to. By the time I was 17, I was into Miles, Coltrane, Monk, Mingus, Ray Charles, Horace Silver & Bill Evans; I knew music was where I wanted to spend my life."
While attending Southern Methodist University in Dallas, he played his first professional gigs on piano and began composing and arranging music. Following a three-year Army hitch, Zoller returned to Dallas, playing at two well-known nightspots: The Fink Mink and Gringo's. He also sold his first arrangements.
In early 1965, he relocated to Kansas City to attend the UMKC Conservatory of Music. While in Kansas City, Zoller became active on the local scene both as a player and writer. He worked with such top K.C. instrumentalists as Arch Martin, Gary Sivels and Tommy Ruskin, played and wrote for the orchestras of Warren Durrett and Jimmy Tucker, and also wrote for singers Marilyn Maye and Marian Love and the K.C. Kix Band. He appeared several times on the annual Kansas City Jazz Festival and toured the Midwest and Southwest with his own quartet.
Based in Dallas since 1969, Zoller led his own groups and worked as a sideman with numerous other bands, including Jerry Gray and Don Jacoby. He has backed such top acts as Kay Starr, Gloria Loring, the Mills Brothers, George Kirby and the Smothers Brothers. He also became active as a player, writer and contractor in Dallas' thriving jingle business. To date, he has written more than 1,600 music tracks for radio & TV; his charts for Wal-Mart, Wet Ones, Jordache Jeans, Texaco, Crest Toothpaste, Mayflower, Century 21, GMC Trucks, Kodak Papers and others have aired nationally.
In 1985, Zoller became tour pianist and music director for Al Hirt, appearing with the Grammy-winning trumpeter at such fabled venues as the Hollywood Bowl, Wolf Trap, Westbury Music Fair, the Stratford Festival Theatre, the Paul Masson Jazz Festival and the Jacksonville Jazz Festival. He also taped several PBS shows with Hirt and cut two CDs with him for ProJazz.
Zoller currently serves as co-leader of a quartet with his wife, vocalist Genie Grant, in addition to working as a pianist and arranger-composer. He also produces recordings for DPZ JAZZ, the record label he founded with Dr. Ambrose G. Hampton, Jr. in 1993. He also publishes original jazz orchestra and combo music through his firm, DPZ Music Production, Inc.
The 33rd Annual Jazz Festival is co-sponsored by Cameron University Lectures and Concerts Series, Cameron University School of Liberal Arts, Cameron University Department of Music, and Cameron University Foundation Inc.
March 3, 2009