223

Denny Zeitlin: Labyrinth

Raul d'Gama Rose By

Sign in to view read count
To Denny Zeitlin the piano is several instruments rolled into one. It is a percussion instrument, struck by fingers and all manner of objets d'art. Together with his feet, which depress the pedals as if they were instrumental peripherals in themselves, Zeitlin makes masterful use of them to split, carve, bend and hang notes. Zeitlin might also make the piano sound like a lute or a harp. And then there are his arms and fingers, that make oceanic use of the ebony and ivory. It is, after all, a piano à queue to Zeitlin, first and foremost. Arms waving in arcs interrupted by a bent elbow, he appears to fluff notes in the air before striking them definitively. He seems to will his energy into ten digits, extending from the palms of his hands until they, quite simply, make sweet music. Here, too, the maestro has developed a technique of varying the pressure applied to the keys so that he is able to vary the emotion of the note. Zeitlin is truly a master of the piano, with a technique so superior that he appears to be almost alone at the top of the imaginary pinnacle from where maestros of extreme rarity preside over the art of pianism.

This was evident before Zeitlin made his memorable recordings for Columbia, and now his recent recordings for Sunnyside. Labyrinth, his most mesmerizing solo record to date, is no exception. It confirms that an audience is absolutely essential in order to complete the artist's composition; it seems as if every time Zeitlin sits at the keyboard, genius is awakened. His exceptional interpretations of Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" and John Coltrane's "Lazy Bird" are just two of the reasons why this album of songs is one for the history books. In the former, Zeitlin turns Shorter's beautifully brooding piece into an epic mystery. In Zeitlin's hands, for instance, it is almost as if the pianist cultivated the narrative of the iconic graphic of a "footprint," developing its prequel and sequel into the extraordinary epic that it has become at his hands. On the latter piece, the singularity of Zeitlin's voice meets his majestic technique. Here his left and right hands work together when he wills it, and then, as if by magic, completely independent of each other. This must have been a sight to behold at the concert itself; it certainly is a wonder to hear on the recording.

Zeitlin's compositions including the maddeningly hypnotic "Labyrinth" and the blisteringly energetic "Brazilian Street Dance" are further evidence that he has contributed some of the most definitive literature to the Great Piano Songbook. The great oceans of European and American sounds collide in Zeitlin's work. In these as well as well as the other charts here it is clear that Zeitlin's masterful use of the language of music is permanently enshrined in everything he touches.

Track Listing: Footprints; Sail Away; They Say It's Wonderful; Lazy Bird; As Long As There's Music; Labyrinth; People Will Say We're In Love; Brazilian Street Dance; Dancing In The Dark; Slipstream.

Personnel: Denny Zeitlin: piano.

Title: Labyrinth | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Cascade

Cascade

Denny Zeitlin
Solo Voyage

Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Jazz Journal
Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Album Reviews
Extended Analysis
Album Reviews
Extended Analysis
Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Remembering Miles

Remembering Miles

Sunnyside Records
2019

buy
Wishing On The Moon

Wishing On The Moon

Sunnyside Records
2018

buy
Expedition

Expedition

Sunnyside Records
2017

buy
Expedition: Duo Electro-Acoustic Improvisations

Expedition: Duo...

Sunnyside Records
2017

buy
Early Wayne

Early Wayne

Sunnyside Records
2016

buy
Early Wayne: Explorations of Classic Wayne Shorter Compositions

Early Wayne:...

Sunnyside Records
2016

buy

Related Articles

Read New York Trio Album Reviews
New York Trio
By Troy Dostert
July 18, 2019
Read Invincible Nimbus Album Reviews
Invincible Nimbus
By Jerome Wilson
July 18, 2019
Read Syzygy Album Reviews
Syzygy
By Don Phipps
July 18, 2019
Read Visions Album Reviews
Visions
By Friedrich Kunzmann
July 18, 2019
Read Shafted Album Reviews
Shafted
By Edward Blanco
July 17, 2019
Read Live at the Bird’s Eye Jazz Club Album Reviews
Live at the Bird’s Eye Jazz Club
By Don Phipps
July 17, 2019
Read New Year Album Reviews
New Year
By Dan Bilawsky
July 17, 2019