Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

411

Petr Zelenka: Memory Flash

Douglas Payne By

Sign in to view read count
Czech guitarist Petr Zelenka brings an edgy warmth to jazz that isn't heard too often these days. There are occasions when the guitarist recalls Jim Hall, whose harmonically advanced yet melodically rooted lines not only quelled the abstractions of Chico Hamilton and Jimmy Giuffre but spiked the pretty sparkles of Paul Desmond and Bill Evans. And yet, Zelenka also brings an unpredictable European sensibility to his music that is reminiscent of many ECM productions—that sense of wandering off from the rhythmic, melodic and predictable path.

On Memory Flash, Zelenka's stand-up-and-take-notice debut, he's assembled a lyrical program that shows as much insight and imagination as it does inspiration and invention. His quartet features Olivier Zanot on alto and soprano sax (a ringer for a younger and less brash Jan Garbarek), Yoni Zelnik on bass and Karl Jannuska on drums and percussion. The group is a cohesive whole that well understands Zelenka's conceptions (the guitarist composed all eight pieces here) and what he strives to achieve.

Surprisingly, it doesn't feel like a guitarist's album. This is the sort of melodic outing that drummers Chico Hamilton or Paul Motian would conceive, with the horn player seemingly in the lead. It's not that Zanot gets the majority of playing time as much as it is a testament to Zelenka's ability to craft a democratic environment that allows for invention by a group that works well as a musical team. In other words, Memory Flash is not dominated by any one instrumentalist. It's a true jazz quartet.

The music itself is vividly impressionistic. Always melodic and "inside," there is a certain freedom present, particularly during the many subtle counterpoints the musicians provide to one another. Zelenka's best compositions are the longer ones, where the quartet gets to dive into interesting exploration. It also prompts the guitarist's best solos: "Hidden Time," the disc's hardest swinger; "Infiltration," which launches the guitarist into a hypnotic Indian dron; and the animated "Za Sedmero Horami," an adventurous piece that finds all players—especially Zelenka—at their best. "Melting Point," in particular, shows how effectively Zelenka and company canvas an entire tableau with very few notes, while Zelenka himself glides beautifully through "Lost World."

While Memory Flash delivers a strong group of players working well together over a very reasonable 52 minutes, it falls a little short of being ultimately memorable. Zelenka's compositions are always interesting—almost contemplative—but offer little in the way of keepsake moments or something to walk away with. But that may well be the point. Given the disc's title, it's little wonder that Zelenka has fashioned something so engaging while it's on and so difficult to recall in anything greater than flashes when it's not. Still, it's a flash worth noticing and one that will hopefully grow brighter as guitarist and composer Petr Zelenka continues working with this simpatico quartet.

Track Listing: Hidden Time; Puzzle; Prayer; Infiltration; Lost Pearl; Za Sedmero Horami; Memory Flash; Melting Point.

Personnel: Petr Zelenka: electric and acoustic guitars; Olivier Zanot: alto and soprano saxophones; Yoni Zelnik: bass; Karl Jannuska: drums, percussion.

Title: Memory Flash | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Animal Music

Tags

Watch

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.

Related Articles

Read We Are On The Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration Album Reviews
We Are On The Edge: A 50th Anniversary Celebration
By Mark Corroto
April 25, 2019
Read Golem Dance Album Reviews
Golem Dance
By Friedrich Kunzmann
April 25, 2019
Read New Jazz Standards, Vol. 4 Album Reviews
New Jazz Standards, Vol. 4
By Dan Bilawsky
April 24, 2019
Read Open Form For Society Album Reviews
Open Form For Society
By Mark Corroto
April 24, 2019
Read Yes Album Reviews
Yes
By John Sharpe
April 24, 2019
Read Avec le temps Album Reviews
Avec le temps
By Mark Sullivan
April 23, 2019
Read Snaketime: The Music Of Moondog Album Reviews
Snaketime: The Music Of Moondog
By Mark Corroto
April 23, 2019