Peter Zak: Peter Zak Trio (2005)
Zak's mastery is evident from the first tune, "Better Late Than Never, an original in which he he dances along the keys with deftness and facility, accompanied ably by bassist Paul Gill and the estimable Al Foster on drums. The tender "Laughing With RZ, clearly influenced by Wynton Kelly, is both understated and elegant.
Zak's arrangement of "Ugly Beauty follows Monk's original recipe but adds his warm highlights to the coloring. "Namely You is played with maximum economy. Gill's plucked bass solo tells a story in itself, with Foster bouncing on brushes behind the pianist's bright opening statement. Zak follows his warm, thoughtful solo turn on "Blue Gardenia with the supple, Oscar Peterson-flavored blues of "Grandpa George.
"Maiden Lane is a somber but lovely ballad that was composed in memory of the 9/11 tragedy. "Tyner's Corner is a perfect rendering of the great pianist's style, with Zak laying down Tyner-like chords in homage, not imitation. The disc closes with "Below the Rim, where the pianist's deft left hand sets a roadrunner tempo for Foster and Gill to follow. Zak sets off no pyrotechnics here; he and his trio simply opt for conciseness and clarity, hallmarks of all fine composing and playing.
Track Listing: Better Late Than Never; Laughing With RZ; Ugly Beauty; Namely You; Blue Gardenia; Grandpa George; Mamacita; The Worrier; Maiden Lane; Tyner's Corner; Below the Rim.
Personnel: Peter Zak: piano; Paul Gill: bass; Al Foster: drums.
Record Label: SteepleChase Records