Attila Zoller

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Attila Zoller
Birth nameAttila Cornelius Zoller
Born(1927-06-13)June 13, 1927
Visegrád, Hungary
DiedJanuary 25, 1998(1998-01-25) (aged 70)
Townshend, Vermont, U.S.
GenresJazz, free jazz
Occupation(s)Musician, inventor, educator
Years active1960–1998

Attila Cornelius Zoller (June 13, 1927[1] – January 25, 1998)[2] was a Hungarian jazz guitarist. After World War II, he escaped the Soviet takeover of Hungary by fleeing through the mountains on foot into Austria. In 1959, he moved to the U.S., where he spent the rest of his life as a musician and teacher.

Music career[edit]

Plaque at Zoller's birthplace in Visegrád, Hungary

Zoller was born in Visegrád, Hungary.[1] As a child, he learned violin from his father, a professional violinist.[1] While in school, he played flugelhorn and bass before choosing guitar.[1] He dropped out of school and played in jazz clubs in Budapest while Russia occupied Hungary. He fled Hungary in 1948 as the Soviet Union was establishing communist military rule.[1] He escaped on foot, carrying his guitar through the mountains into Austria.[1] He settled in Vienna, became an Austrian citizen, and started a jazz group with accordionist Vera Auer.[2]

In the mid-1950s, Zoller moved to Germany and played with German musicians Jutta Hipp and Hans Koller.[1] When American jazz musicians passed through, such as Oscar Pettiford and Lee Konitz, they persuaded him to move to the United States.[1] He moved to the U.S. after receiving a scholarship to the Lenox School of Jazz.[1] One of his teachers was guitarist Jim Hall and his roommate was Ornette Coleman, who got him interested in free jazz.[2]

From 1962–1965, Zoller performed in a group with flautist Herbie Mann, then Lee Konitz and Albert Mangelsdorff.[1] Over the years, he played and recorded with Benny Goodman, Stan Getz, Red Norvo, Jimmy Raney, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Shirley Scott, Cal Tjader, Jimi Hendrix, and in New York City jazz clubs in the 1960s with pianist Don Friedman[3]

In 1974, he started the Attila Zoller Jazz Clinics in Vermont, later named the Vermont Jazz Center, where he taught until 1998. He invented a bi-directional pickup,[1] designed strings and a signature guitar series. Between the years 1989 and 1998, he played more and more with the German vibraphonist Wolfgang Lackerschmid. They also did recordings together.[4] He performed with Tommy Flanagan and George Mraz in New York City three weeks before his death in 1998 in Townshend, Vermont.[2]

Awards and honors[edit]


As leader[edit]

  • The Horizon Beyond (Emarcy, 1965)
  • Zoller Koller Solal with Hans Koller & Martial Solal (SABA, 1966)
  • Katz & Maus (SABA, 1967)
  • Zo-Ko-Ma with Lee Konitz & Albert Mangelsdorff (MPS, 1968)
  • Gypsy Cry (Embryo, 1970)
  • Dream Bells (Enja, 1976)
  • Common Cause (Enja, 1979)
  • The K & K 3 in New York with Hans Koller & George Mraz (L+R, 1980)
  • Jim & I with Jimmy Raney (L+R, 1980)
  • Jim & I Live with Jimmy Raney (L+R, 1981)
  • Conjunction (Inner City, 1981)
  • Jim & I Live at Quasimodo with Jimmy Raney (L+R, 1986)
  • Memories of Pannonia (Enja, 1986)
  • Overcome (Enja, 1988)
  • Live Highlights '92 (Bhakti, 1992)
  • When It's Time (Enja, 1995)
  • Lasting Love (Acoustic Music Records, 1997)
  • The Last Recordings (Enja, 2000)
  • Common Language (Acoustic Music Records, 2002)
  • Jazz Soundtracks (Sonorama, 2013)

As sideman[edit]

With Albert Mangelsdorff

  • Albert Mangelsdorff and His Friends (MPS, 1977)
  • Mainhattan Modern Lost Jazz Files (Sonorama, 2015)
  • The Jazz Sextet (Moosicus, 2017)

With Herbie Mann

With others


  • Simon Géza Gábor: Mindhalálig gitár - Zoller Attila élete és művészete. Budapest, 2002. ISBN 963-204-716-8
  • Géza Gábor Simon: Immens gut, Attila Zoller. Sein Leben und seine Kunst. Budapest 2003. ISBN 963-206-928-5
  • Heinz Protzer: Attila Zoller. Sein Leben, seine Zeit, seine Musik. Erftstadt 2009. ISBN 978-3-00-026568-6
  • Géza Gábor Simon: Guitar Forever - Attila Zoller Discography, Budapest 2011


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Who's Who of Jazz (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 444. ISBN 0-85112-580-8.
  2. ^ a b c d Kelsey, Chris. "Attila Zoller | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  3. ^ "Attila Zoller Recording Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2010-10-23.
  4. ^ "Attila Zoller & Wolfgang Lackerschmid: Live Highlights '92 (remastered) (LP) – jpc". (in German). Retrieved 2021-06-23.
  5. ^ "Zoller Receives Lifetime Achievement Award". Archived from the original on 2011-06-17. Retrieved 2010-10-23.
  6. ^ "Message to Attila: The Music of Attilla Zoller". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 November 2016.

External links[edit]