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Pete Zimmer: Prime of Life (2012)

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Pete Zimmer: Prime of Life How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Prime of Life, drummer Pete Zimmer's fifth recording as a leader, has a clean, crisp, soulful sound. The players of the quartet—all top-notch musicians—meld their talents into a polished cohesion. Zimmer is a fine drummer capable of impeccable timekeeping and intricate, though usually subtle percussive flourishes. Zimmer's music, with its tight grooves, sounds like heartland jazz, like the quintessentially American sound of an organ trio—without, in this case, the Hammond B3 breathing into the mix.

Guitarist Peter Bernstein
Peter Bernstein
Peter Bernstein
b.1967
guitar
, who has worked extensively with organists Melvin Rhyne
Melvin Rhyne
Melvin Rhyne
1936 - 2013
organ, Hammond B3
and Larry Goldings
Larry Goldings
Larry Goldings
b.1968
keyboard
, is a tangy presence here, whether laying down a slow, thoughtful, single-noting solo on "Tranquility," or with his ringing, organ-like chording on "Carefree."

George Garzone
George Garzone
George Garzone
b.1950
sax, tenor
fronts this quartet outing. The somewhat underappreciated saxophonist seems to fall into the "musicians' musician" category, like Joe Henderson
Joe Henderson
Joe Henderson
1937 - 2001
sax, tenor
prior to the late saxophonist's late-career breakout recording, So Near, So Far (Musings for Miles) (Verve, 1992). Like Henderson, Garzone solos with a labyrinthine eloquence, smoking in front of bassist Peter Slavov
Peter Slavov
Peter Slavov

bass, acoustic
's always solid, always subtle pulse and Zimmer's relentless simmer on "T.T.T.," one of three tunes Garzone contributes to this otherwise all-Zimmer-penned outing.

Where Garzone's "T.T.T" runs hot, Zimmer's "Night Vision" rides on a cool and laidback cruise control. It's a fluid roll, like a big new American-made sedan following its headlights along a freshly-paved highway, on a straight shot through the darkness over gentle rises and falls.

"Almost Home," at just a notch above ballad tempo, features Garzone's most beautiful blowing, and a very piquant solo by Bernstein, leading into the controlled burn of the closer, "The Three Petes," with Garzone—the group's only "non-Pete"—serving up another of his engagingly circuitous saxophone soliloquies.

Track Listing: Prime of Life; One for GG; Tranquility; Carefree; Strollin' Down Bourbon Street; T.T.T.; Night Vision; Almost Home; The Three Petes.

Personnel: Pete Zimmer: drums; George Garzone: tenor saxophone; Peter Bernstein: guitar; Peter Slavov: bass.

Record Label: Tippin' Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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