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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Zak: The Disciple

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Pianist Peter Zak had a transcontinental shift from Los Angeles to Columbus and Kent Ohio and, finally, to New Your City, where he has remained since 1989. He has released critically well-received CDs for the Danish SteepleChase label: The Eternal Triangle (2012), Nordic Noon (2011) and Down East (2011). He returns with the present trio recording, The Disciple. The jazz market is a small land finicky one. It is really no longer possible to simply put together a piano trio recording of original and standards that stands out from the battlefield clotted with the same. The smarter ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Zak: Down East

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Block chords, swinging touch, trio setting, full-throated playing: this must be Red Garland. 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 ("Invisible") reveals a connection with Thelonious Monk ("Gallop's Gallop") and a spiritual kinship with Clifford Brown ("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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Zak: Down East

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Pianist Peter Zak and his superb trio went into the studio to swing on Down East, and swing they did. Opening with Duke Pearson's “Is That So?," Zak displays a light touch and a sparkle and shine not unlike that of Red Garland or Oscar Peterson, with ubiquitous bassist Peter Washington and drummer Rodney Green locking the rhythm into a tight foundational groove for Zak's bright ebullience. On a set of well-chosen standards mixed with lesser-known gems, and with the bass and drums more in a supportive than interactive mode, Zak's beautiful way with a melody comes to the forefront.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Zak: Blues on the Corner: The Music of McCoy Tyner

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McCoy Tyner has justifiably been heralded as one of the most important jazz pianists of the past 50 years, both for his seminal work with the classic John Coltrane Quartet in the 1960s and for the four decades of consistently exhilarating work as a leader that followed. But while his heavily percussive style, unique chord voicings and the sheer emotional force of his playing have influenced countless followers, he has seldom been appreciated for his contributions as a composer. That's beginning to change a bit, however, with the SF Jazz Collective's 2009 Tyner tribute and New York pianist Peter Zak ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Zak: My Conception

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Pianist Peter Zak, a heralded talent in the trio setting, flies solo on his excellent My Conception, where he skillfully dissects and reconstructs a roster of originals and standards, giving them depth of character and unrealized poignancy.

Zak's originals are ambitious and diverse. He plays the mercurial “Shala with building emotion and lyricism as his boundless ideas grow exponentially. He deftly explores every harmonic and melodic possibility of the beautiful “Mahmoud's Memory, telling a story that is complex yet uncluttered. The repeated figure of “Circling Columbus means to convey the frustration of dealing with midtown traffic, but Zak works out ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Zak Trio: For Tomorrow

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Consider the minor thrills in life. Six minutes into For Tomorrow, on a romantically titled track, “Plaza de Toros, Peter Zak's robust piano notes rise like smoke and embroider delicate but bold audio patterns into the rhythmic backdrop. Willie Jones III lends his dexterous, almost rocky command of drums to create a mood of urgency and alarm that manages to remain consistent throughout, from Zak's own “The Cream or the Clear to “Wee See, a Thelonious Monk cover. Paul Gill's bass drone adds a heightened sense of coolness that the album boasts of holistically. “You Know I Care is a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Zak: Peter Zak Trio

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Pianist Peter Zak is something of an unknown quantity to New Yorkers, but on his SteepleChase debut, he makes a considerable first impression. On this disc, which is comprised mostly of originals, he displays a style, which, although clearly touched by his major influences, remains vibrant and singular. During a great gig last month at Smoke, Zak showcased several of the tunes (and one that isn't on the disc, a burner with the hilarious title “The Cream and the Clear, which hopefully will be on a future release). Zak's mastery is evident from the first tune, “Better Late ...



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