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Peter Zak: Down East (2011)

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Peter Zak: Down East How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Block chords, swinging touch, trio setting, full-throated playing: this must be Red Garland
Red Garland
Red Garland
1923 - 1984
piano
. No, its New York City pianist and composer Peter Zak and his loquacious piano style, tasteful and full-bodied. Down East is Zak's sixth release for the Danish Steeplechase label. Zak's piano approach is easily stated, even and uniformly dense. His Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
b.1930
sax, alto
("Invisible") reveals a connection with Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
("Gallop's Gallop") and a spiritual kinship with Clifford Brown
Clifford Brown
Clifford Brown
1930 - 1956
trumpet
("Tiny Capers").

"Tiny Capers" was featured as the opener on Bill Carrothers' A Night At the Village Vanguard (Pirouet, 2011), and that pianist's expressionist approach contrasts well with Zak's intentional and exacting cover. Zak approaches the Brown compositions as a Bach Partita, with an intended precision that also swings, hardest during his solo section. Bassist Peter Washington keeps railroad-clock time and in doing so, always keeps Zak between the lines. Zak's two-fisted rhythmic approach propels the song along a comfortable predictable path to a really good listen.

Personnel: Peter Zak: piano; Peter Washington: bass; Rodney Green: drums.

Record Label: SteepleChase Records


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