411

Petr Zelenka: Memory Flash

Douglas Payne By

Sign in to view read count
Petr Zelenka: Memory Flash 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

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs CD/LP/Track Review Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Float The Edge CD/LP/Track Review Float The Edge
by John Sharpe
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Resonance CD/LP/Track Review Resonance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Black Focus CD/LP/Track Review Black Focus
by Rokas Kucinskas
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Birdhoused CD/LP/Track Review Birdhoused
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "Genesis, Mystery And Magic" CD/LP/Track Review Genesis, Mystery And Magic
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 6, 2017
Read "88" CD/LP/Track Review 88
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 24, 2016
Read "Piano Song" CD/LP/Track Review Piano Song
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 9, 2017
Read "Passin' Thru" CD/LP/Track Review Passin' Thru
by Ian Patterson
Published: July 20, 2017
Read "Burn The Boat" CD/LP/Track Review Burn The Boat
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: May 18, 2017
Read "Piano Song" CD/LP/Track Review Piano Song
by Troy Collins
Published: January 26, 2017

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!