Pianist Eric Zinman works in the creative music genre that keeps alive the flames of those heady days when jazz was the real underground. For these two trio releases, it is evident that these fires still burn hot, at a time when a musical wake up call is sorely needed.
This is Zinman's working Ensemble
, pros with impressive musical pedigrees that stretch back to the seminal free jazzers of the '60s. The chemistry and communication is evident as is Zinman's connection to influences like trumpeter Bill Dixon, architect of the October Revolution.
Jon Voigt's bass has developed into a loquacious and pleasing conversationalist through his fastidious attention to timbre and a wealth of experience with Zinman, Dixon and altoist Jemeel Moondoc. Voigt uses his vocal alter-ego, BeatBop, to tell the oh-so-hip free-improv story of "Little Jimmy K (the white hipster)" with conjured-up lines of the moment like "Bertha was a strange chic, she had no neck." Drummer Laurence Cook, who also worked with Dixon and Moondoc, adds a special touch to this session. He conjugates rhythm on Voigt's "Swing Swang Swung" and sets the controls for the 19th Century while "Channelling Paris 1870."
With a rhythm section as fine as this one, Zinman is given a superb soundscape to showcase his excellent touch, timing and creativity. These moments alternate with the triumvirate ensemble playing of "Short Story for Bill Dixon" and Ornette Coleman's "Eventually" as well as two elegant pianistic statements: "Small Beggars" penned by pianist Lowell Davidson and tenorist Glenn Spearman's "Straight Up Straight Out." In the process of painting these 11 sonic portraits, the trio pay homage to several of their mentors in an environment that fosters the finest in creative improv. The Great Divide
, in addition to Zinman, features cellist Glynis Lomon and alto/tenor saxophonist Blaise Siwula as equal partners in a free-formish program that intertwines instrumental sonorities. Textural tonal tapestries represent the mystery in "Forests," the majesty of "The Great Divide," the pastoral "Rio Verde" and contradictions of a "Windswept Circus." Siwula is well known to the NYC creative music scene, through his long career and current affiliation with C.O.M.A. (Citizens Ontological Music Agenda) performances at the Lower East Side's ABC No Rio. He can take command of an improv with both speed and creativity and that is evident here. Loman, however, is a fresh voice and her performance is stellar. With her bow or fingers, she is able to use her instrument's exquisite timbre to become part of a rhythm section with alternating percussionists (William Buchanan and Hugo Manuschevitch) that confront Siwula and Zinman on their own terms or blend seamlessly with them.
Tracks and Personnel Eric Zinman Ensemble
Tracks: the Mystery; Eventually; Small Beggar; Respective Duets; Short Story for Bill Dixon; Swing Swang Swung; Straight Up Straight Out; Channeling Paris 1870; Little Jimmy K (the white hipster); Elephant Paws; War and Peace.
Personnel: Eric Zinman: piano; Jon Voigt: bass; Laurence Cook: drums. The Great Divide
Tracks: There were Frogs in the Fog; Forest; The Great Divide; Falcons; RIo Verde; Windswept Circus.
Personnel: Glynis Lomon: cello and voice; Blaise Siwula: alto and tenor saxophone; Eric ZInman: piano; William Buchanan: percussion (2,5,6; Hugo Manuscheyich: percussion (3,4).