Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!


Denny Zeitlin & George Marsh: Expedition

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
While fear often paints the idea of spontaneous creation as a sea of uncertainty, openness tend to shape it as an ocean of possibility. The difference all comes down to how you look at it and the way you choose to operate. To exist in the latter mindset, and boldly travel to new and unknown realms without trepidation, one need only live in the moment, let go, and listen. Just look at the work of pianist Denny Zeitlin and drummer George Marsh if you need further convincing.

Zeitlin and Marsh have a long history together—the drummer was the linchpin in the pianist's broad-minded electro-acoustic trio that formed nearly half a century ago and they rekindled their musical relationship by creating this exploratory duo back in 2013—but that history doesn't bog down their work with sentiment or result in any "been there, done that" designs. It's always a new ballgame and a blank canvas for these two.

It wouldn't be unfair to say that Expedition operates on the same platform as this pair's previous statement—Riding The Moment (Sunnyside Records, 2015). It's the absolute truth. Both duo dates look at free expression in a hybridized realm and each presents music that was essentially created in real time with few overdubs. This is most certainly a continuation statement, but that shouldn't imply that there's any retracing of steps. All twenty-five tracks spread across the two records are marked by an independence of thought and direction.

While the scent of freedom carries on the air across this entire album, the music is rarely formless. It grooves, breathes, flows, and evolves in kaleidoscopic fashion, taking and/or changing shape through a near-telepathic process. Entire tracks—or "sound paintings," if we're going with the Zeitlin-Marsh vernacular—often possess a magnetic draw born of language and development. Such is the case with "Traffic," for example. It's a construct that springs from a nervous sixteenth note motif, lands in a swinging realm where a somewhat icy synth and acoustic piano become fast friends while Marsh lays it down on his ride, and finally trails off into the sunset as a soundscape free of constraints and full of uncertainty. It's five minutes worth following and one example of how this pair guides the music into different areas without ever forcing it.

Each journey has something special to offer in its entirety, but that's only one way of taking this music in. Bathing in individual moments or single aspects of a performance—the marriage of trumpet-ish synth, funky bass lines, and driving cymbal on "Shards Of Blue"; the playful points that produce "Lives Of Clowns"; the fusion-ish groove that carries "Shooting The Rapids"—is just as rewarding. Either way that you slice it, it's something special. There are some minor drawbacks here—some of the synth sounds are a tad dated, the music occasionally wants for more urgency—but they don't have a major impact on the end result. Any opportunity to hear Denny Zeitlin and George Marsh take us into the great unknown is an opportunity worth taking.

Track Listing: Geysers; Thorns Of Life; Traffic; Shards Of Blue; Lives Of Clowns; Spiral Nebula; Shooting The Rapids; One Song; Sentinel; Watch Where You Step; Not Lost In The Shuffle; The Hunt; Expedition.

Personnel: Denny Zeitlin: acoustic piano, hardware and virtual synthesizers, keyboards; George Marsh: drums, percussion.

Title: Expedition | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read OR CD/LP/Track Review OR
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 18, 2018
Read The Songbook Project CD/LP/Track Review The Songbook Project
by Don Phipps
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Solo a Genova CD/LP/Track Review Solo a Genova
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Reaching Out CD/LP/Track Review Reaching Out
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Satoko Fujii Solo CD/LP/Track Review Satoko Fujii Solo
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 17, 2018
Read when the shade is stretched CD/LP/Track Review when the shade is stretched
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2018
Read "The Company I Keep" CD/LP/Track Review The Company I Keep
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 28, 2017
Read "Infra" CD/LP/Track Review Infra
by John Eyles
Published: October 7, 2017
Read "Fun with Notes" CD/LP/Track Review Fun with Notes
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 10, 2017
Read "Leon" CD/LP/Track Review Leon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 11, 2017
Read "Forever Young" CD/LP/Track Review Forever Young
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 1, 2017
Read "Unloved" CD/LP/Track Review Unloved
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 12, 2017