Maestro John Zoltek explores jazz fusion

Jazz Night with the Maestro pairs jazz guitar with a nine-piece string ensemble May 11

New & Notable

Jazz Night with the Maestro, May 11 in Whitefish, offers a rare pairing of jazz guitar with a nine-piece string ensemble and guest soloists, presented by the Glacier Symphony. John Zoltek, music director and conductor of the orchestra, will plug in his electric guitar and dive into his “musical alter ego” for this show, which features his original tunes arranged for jazz combo and strings.

The O’Shaughnessy Cultural Arts Center in Whitefish will be transformed into “Z” jazz club with cabaret seating at tables and refreshments available at a no-host wine bar. Joining Maestro Zoltek on stage is a jazz combo consisting of Don Caverly on stand-up bass and Jeremy Reinbolt on drums and percussion.

Additional guest musicians from the Glacier Symphony include Marty Weimer, trumpet; Dave Lawrence, trombone; Mark Holston, conga; and an ensemble of nine strings. “I call the group ‘Zoltek’s Cosmic Hammer Orchestra’ or ‘ZOCHO,’ for short. It will be a fun night of cool but edgy jazz explorations,” says the maestro.

Proceeds from the concert will support Youth Music Experience, an outreach and education program that provides Flathead Valley youth an opportunity to experience symphonic music. The audience will be treated to a short video on the subject during intermission.

As a long time classical composer, Zoltek has written many works for symphonic orchestra. For this show, he has crafted new arrangements of his jazz compositions. Some of the titles include “We Dance from the Ocean,” “Spring Morning Muse,” “Obelisk,” “Iberian Veils,” “Panoplies,” and many more.

Zoltek’s musical journey began like many aspiring young musicians with private lessons and school programs. His interest in classical music was inspired by a school concert with the Rhode Island Philharmonic.

“For me, this was one of those golden inspirational moments that first opened my eyes and ears to larger musical possibilities,” he says. “I still remember my very first symphony experience.”

Although Zoltek has sustained a busy career as music director of Glacier Symphony, a classical composer, and an occasional guest conductor in Canada, South America and Europe, he still enjoys practicing, writing and performing in the jazz-fusion idiom.

“Even though I have been a guitarist for over 50 years now I am still far from a mastering this instrument,” he says. “But I’m still working on it – it’s so much fun for me!”

Tickets are $30 for mezzanine seats overlooking the band and $49 for table seating on the main floor (reserved tables are also available). Buy tickets online at or call 406-407-7000.