How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
There's a little rock, a little roll and plenty of good sounds in guitarist Jon Zeeman's Zeeland. Throw in some blues, funk and jazz, and you've got quite a recipe. Add to that the fact that Zeeman studied classical piano and decided to play professionally when he was just 13.
After studying music at Ithaca College in New York for two years, Zeeman hit the road, performing with various artists. Since then, he's been involved in producing, session work and songwriting, working largely out of New York City. He now has homes at Martha's Vineyard and West Palm Beach, Fla., where he performs regularly. Zeeman has recorded and performed with such artists as The Allman Brothers Band, Janis Ian and Susan Tedeschi, among others.
Zeeland features Zeeman with several session players, performing 11 original songs. "Mr. Head" kicks things off with Zeeman doubling on keyboard. Bassist Phil McArthur and drummer George Lily help punctuate this funky piece. While that track is electric, literally and figuratively, "Surfside" is more melodic. Underscored beautifully by Bob Taylor on the organ and Tom Regis on piano, Zeeman performs elegantly in the lead. Keith Cronin takes over drum duties, and Regis contributes a charming piano solo. The song builds to an exciting crescendo before returning to the tranquil mood that sets it off.
"Coral" is a swinging blues number that features Taylor on organ, with Deniz on bass and Lily on drums. It sets up the high-energy "Hard Roll," a blues-rock jam in which Zeeman shows off his talent in a way that's part Larry Carlton, part Pete Townshend with a few others thrown in. McArthur contributes a sharp bass solo.
"D.A. Blues" is a smoky, tear-your-heart-out song. Lily's drum and cymbals work is an excellent complement to the lead. Deniz provides an apt bass line, while Zeeman again doubles on guitars and keyboards. "Y" is more upbeat, with a slight blues flavor. Cronin, McArthur, Regis and Taylor help fill out the soundscape on this track, but it is mostly about Zeeman as he stretches out considerably, particularly toward the end of the song.
Zeeland is a little off the beaten path, but mostly it's just a good listen and at times very adventurous.
Track Listing: Mr. Head; Surfside; Zeeland; Slow Night Blues; Kingsize; Coral; Hard Roll; Get It; D.A. Blues; Y; Mr. Head Reprise
Personnel: Jon Zeeman: guitars, keyboards (1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9); Phil McArthur: bass (1-3, 5, 7, 10, 11); Ilken Deniz: bass (6, 9); Randy Ward: fretless bass (2, 11); Bob Taylor: organ (2, 5, 7, 10, 11); Tom Regis: piano (2, 5, 7, 10, 11); John Michaelak: saxophone (5); Keith Cronin: drums (2, 5, 7, 10, 11); George Lily: drums (1, 3, 6, 9)