Denny Zeitlin has recorded over thirty critically acclaimed albums; twice won first place in the Down Beat International Jazz Critics Poll; written original music for Sesame Street; and appeared on network TV, including repeats on the Tonight Show, and CBS Sunday Morning. Zeitlin’s lecture- demonstration “Unlocking the Creative Impulse: The Psychology of Improvisation” has been presented across the U.S. and in Europe.
He has concertized throughout the U.S., Canada, Japan, and Europe, at colleges, jazz clubs, and major festivals; appearing with jazz greats such as Joe Henderson, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Tony Williams, Bobby Hutcherson, John Patitucci, John Abercrombie, Marian McPartland, Charlie Haden, David Grisman, Kronos Quartet, Paul Winter, David Friesen, Matt Wilson, Buster Williams and many others.
Zeitlin was born in Chicago in 1938. His parents were both involved in medicine and music. He began playing the piano at age two, studied classical music throughout his elementary school years, and fell in love with jazz in high school a made-to-order medium for his primary interest in improvisation and composition. He played professionally in and around Chicago while still in high school. in college and medical school, he combined jazz with formal study of music theory and composition with Alexander Tcherepnin, Robert Muczynski, and George Russell. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Illinois in 1960 and received his M.D. from Johns Hopkins in 1964.
He is currently a psychiatrist in private practice in San Francisco and Marin County and on the teaching faculty of the University of California, San Francisco. His first series of records appeared on Columbia in the mid and late 60’s, and were received with critical acclaim and international exposure. Zeitlin then withdrew from public appearance for several years in order to develop a pioneering integration of jazz, electronics, classical, and rock. This music emerged in the early 70’s with multiple recordings, culminating in the 1978 electronic-acoustic symphonic score for “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Subsequently he returned to a primary focus on acoustic music in a multitude of settings, with continued composing, recording, and international touring.
CDs of the last decade include live solo and duo (with David Friesen) recordings at Maybeck Recital Hall for Concord Records; “Denny Zeitlin & David Friesen— Live at the Jazz Bakery” on Intuition Records; Summit Records’ “In Concert”, a duo album originally recorded for ITM in Europe; “Denny Zeitlin Trio: As Long as There’s Music” featuring Buster Williams and Al Foster (Venus & 32 Jazz); Denny Zeitlin & David Grisman—“New River” (Acoustic Disc); and CD release of the 1978 Film Soundtrack: “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (Perseverance Records). A series of albums for MaxJazz began with “Slickrock”—a critically acclaimed trio recording with Buster Williams and Matt Wilson, released in May, 2004. Denny’s most recent recording, “Solo Voyage,” utilizing piano and synthesizer, was released in June, 2005.