Zack grew up in Santa Fe, NM, where he began drum lessons at age 8. Music was the focus of his high school years and he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Percussion Performance from Ball State University. College provided him with opportunities to try on many different musical hats – orchestra, jazz groups, marching band, percussion ensemble, solo marimba, and original bands outside of school.

 

In 2003, Zack entered graduate school at The University of Missouri-Kansas City. His primary mentor was alto sax legend and Grammy nominee Bobby Watson, who stressed the importance of the audience. “When people come to hear music,” Bobby said, “part of what they come for is ‘the hug’… They want to feel welcomed and included in what you’re doing…Anybody can play something nobody understands.” This has informed Zack’s approach to music ever since. 

 

Zack also studied drumset at UMKC with Doug Auwarter, a master of jazz, Brazilian and Afro-Cuban styles, who impressed upon Zack the importance of playing various styles authentically, and that “you’re not going to sound really good playing a style you don’t really love.” In four years at UMKC, Zack earned Master’s degrees in Percussion Performance and Jazz & Studio Performance. By the time he graduated in 2007, he was already in high demand on Kansas City’s vibrant music scene and spent the next three years playing with many of the area’s top jazz acts, exploring the many creative and expressive musical avenues available to him.

Atlanta Credits:

Ruby Velle & The Soulphonics, Atlanta Funk Society, Delta Moon, The ATL Collective, Ansley Stewart, Equinox Orchestra, Emerald Empire Band, Prisca, Yacht Rock Schooner, Tyler Neal, Kevin Scott

 

Los Angeles Credits:

Grammy and Oscar winner Johnny Mandel, Grammy nominees Kim Richmond and Pete Christlieb, Jacques Lesure, Ty Bailie, Nick Mancini, Center Theatre Group, Musical Theatre West, 3D Theatricals, Disneyland, Jennifer Kieth Sextet

Kansas City Credits:

Bobby Watson, Shay Estes, Mark Lowrey, The Kansas City Symphony, The Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Stan Kessler, New Jazz Order Big Band, The 18th & Vine Big Band, Karyn Allison, Mary Stallings, Ernie Andrews

Musical Theatre Credits:

Cabaret, A Chorus Line, Legally Blonde, Tommy, Venice, Love Janis, The Music Man, Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Nunsense, White Christmas, The Wiz, Hairspray, Children of Eden, Bye Bye Birdie, Ragtime

In search of new opportunities and a bigger musical market, Zack set his sights on Los Angeles in 2010. Soon after arriving, he won an open audition to join Disneyland’s Five & Dime Band. This gig reminded him of “the hug” that Bobby talked about, and that music is about entertainment, connection, and expression…in that order. To that end in 2014, he joined The Jennifer Keith Sextet, a retro-swing band led by Royal Crown Revue founder Mando Dorame. The group headlined at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, The Catalina JazzTrax Festival, and many of LA’s marquis venues including Cicada Club and The Edison. During five years in LA, Zack also amassed a deep and varied list of freelance performance credits throughout Southern California. 

 

In 2015, Zack became involved with Working Drummer Podcast, joining Nashville-based founder Matthew Crouse as co-host. The podcast features weekly interviews with drummers from all regions and styles, and rather than geek out on the inside baseball of technique and gear, the conversations focus more on stories, networking, relationships, challenges, and the psychological and emotional aspects of a life in music. 

 

Zack has lived in Atlanta in 2016. The city's active, welcoming music scene embraced him and within just a few months, he became a go-to for some of the best talent in the Southeast. Zack has performed, toured, and recorded with a wide range of artists including Ruby Velle & The Soulphonics, The ATL Collective, and Delta Moon. Most importantly, he is having more fun playing music than ever.

2014 Zack Albetta