Zonjic, Lloyd Will Team Up Again at Wine and Jazz Festival

YOUNGSTOWN – The Youngstown Wine and Jazz festival will feature a trio of modern jazz artists with a working knowledge of each other’s music.

Alexander Zonjic of Detroit will headline the Saturday event, which will also include his frequent collaborators James Lloyd of Canfield and saxophonist Jessy J.

The concert will start at 7 p.m. at the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre.

Tickets are $22 and $7 (lawn), plus fees; click HERE.

Four local wineries will be at The Amp for the event, selling their products. Doors will open at 6 p.m.

Zonjic offers a unique take on smooth urban jazz, leading his ensemble with his flute playing. He has been working with Lloyd, best known for his jazz act Pieces of a Dream, for many years and is excited to finally be able to perform on his pal’s home turf.

“Me and James have done a lot [together],” Zonjic said. “One incentive for doing this gig was that I know James lives there. He’s done a million gigs with me where he has driven to Detroit. We go way back. [When I found out about the show], I said, ‘Guess what? I’m driving to Youngstown.’”

The two met years ago when they were both signed to the Heads Up International record label, and soon started working together.

“For my second Heads Up record, the label manager said I should collaborate with James Lloyd because he’s so multitalented,” Zonjic said. “He is an exceptional talent.”

The two wound up working together on several albums.

“Most people don’t realize there is so much James Lloyd in my work,” Zonjic said. “It’s a mutual friendship. We’ve been doing live shows together a lot lately.”

There is more collaboration to come after the Youngstown show, as the two are currently working on a record.

The Jazz Fest show will feature Zonjic, Lloyd and Jessy performing together for most of the night.

“It’s collaborative the entire show,” Zonjic said. “James is up on stage the whole show. We do some of my stuff and some of his. We bring out Jessy J to work with us, and do some of her hits. Then she stays on and plays on some of my songs. There might be a Jessy song or two where I or she leaves the stage.”

Zonjic prefers this type of concert.

“If a person happens to be a fan of one of us but doesn’t see us, it lets them down,” he said. “So we’re all up there for most of the show.”

In 2020 – 11 years after releasing his “Doin’ the D” album, which paid homage to the music of Detroit – Zonjic got back in the throwback R&B groove with the release of another valentine to Detroit, titled “Playing It Forward.” The lead song on the album, “Motor City Sway,” was written and produced for him by Lloyd. The song quickly hit the Billboard Smooth Jazz Songs chart.

A native of Windsor, Ontario – across the Detroit River – Zonjic is a 15-time Detroit Music Awards winner. He began hosting the morning radio show at smooth jazz station WVMV in that city in 1998 – a stint that ran through 2010. Since 2016, he has hosted “Alexander Zonjic from A to Z,” a weekly half-hour hybrid TV show in Detroit.

Over the years, as Zonjic puts it, he has morphed from “that flute guy from Canada” into the owner of a cottage industry as the artistic director and producer of more than 10 annual festival events in the Detroit region.

In that way, he is similar to Jeff Green of Youngstown, who has been in charge of the Youngstown Wine and Jazz festival for the past four years.

His goal is to continue to grow the fanbase for the event while introducing a wide range of modern jazz to people who might not be aware of its depth and range.

Green has been presenting the annual Jazz in the Park series every summer at Youngstown’s Wick Park for over 20 years.

“Jazz is often misunderstood,” he said. “I’m determined to make this as well-attended and well-appreciated as my Jazz in the Park series, which will start the next day.”

Pictured at top: Alexander Zonjic and James Lloyd will team up again at the Wine and Jazz Festival.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.