16

Denny Zeitlin: Live at Mezzrow

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Denny Zeitlin: Live at Mezzrow
Pianist Denny Zeitlin appeared on his first recording in 1963, flautist Jeremy Steigs' Flute Fever (Columbia Records). He was in his third year at Johns Hopkins Medical School at the time, on a path to dual careers in psychiatry and eventually the teaching of that profession—vocations he continues with to this day.

Add a third career, jazz pianist. And Denny Zeitlin doesn't dabble. His music is a third career, equal in personal importance to his more conventional occupations. He recorded four more albums under his own name for Columbia between 1964 and 1966. From there Zeitlin moved to smaller labels, maintaining a consistent album release schedule, including an early foray into electronic music—when the means for operating in the genre were relatively rudimentary—and recording a marvelous electro-orchestral soundtrack to the 1978 movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Zeitlin's relationship with Sunnyside Records, beginning in 2009, was and continues to be a fortuitous and fruitful one. The first album in the pianist's Sunnyside relationship documenting the Denny Zeitlin/Buster Williams/Matt Wilson trio was Denny Zeitlin In Concert, Featuring Buster Williams and Matt Wilson (2009)—the first having been Slickrock (MAXJAZZ, 2004). He then moved into an album a year schedule at the label that continues to this day, with solo, trio and electro-acoustic offerings of the highest caliber.

Which brings us to Live At Mezzrow, featuring, once again, bassist Buster Williams and drummer Matt Wilson (the trio has five Sunnyside albums under its belt at this writing). Zeitlin and company open the show with a restructured, reharmonized version of George and Ira Gershwin's "The Man I Love," an eleven-plus-minute high velocity workout which pushes the boundaries between straight ahead and free jazz—a mode that continues throughout the set. The songs are familiar; the trio takes them into unfamiliar territory and back again with a modernistic verve.

A Billy Strayhorn theme emerges. The trio covers three of Strayhorn's compositions, "Star-Crossed Lovers," "Ishfahan" and "Intimacy of the Blues." Crafting vehicles for the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Strayhorn made the loveliest of music. Zeitlin paints the first two introspective stories with gorgeous colorations, while the last plays out as a percussive, full throttle romp, the trio locked into a joyous groove.

Zeitlin's own "Echo Of A Kiss," and "10 Bar Tune" hold the same allure as the best of the Great American Songbook tunes, and Thelonious Monk's "I Mean You" caroms and banks around the table until Zeitlin takes it into freer territory inside the bouncing Williams/Wilson groove.

The trio closes with Wayne Shorters "Paraphernalia," that originally appeared on Miles Davis' Miles In The Sky (Columbia, 1968). Zeitlin offered up his take on the tune on his 2018 solo set, Early Wayne: Explorations of Classic Wayne Shorter Compositions (Sunnyside Records). In this reprise, Zeitlin and his trio mates stretch out for twelve-plus minutes of propulsive agitation that shifts to dreamy rumination and pianistic exploration and beauty, to close perhaps the finest of his ongoing album releases for Sunnyside Records.

Track Listing

The Man I Love; Echo of a Kiss; I Mean You; The Star-Crossed Lovers; 10 Bar Tune; Dancing In The Dark; Isfahan; Intimacy of The Blues; Paraphernalia.

Personnel

Denny Zeitlin: piano; Buster Williams: bass; Matt Wilson: drums.

Album information

Title: Live at Mezzrow | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read End Of Summer
End Of Summer
Espen Eriksen Trio
Read Facing Duality
Facing Duality
Maria Baptist and Jan von Klewitz
Read Stateless
Stateless
Tashi Dorji

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.