In a way every piano recording is alike, yet of course no matter how many are made, they're inevitably distincteach performer (and indeed each piano) has a tone and a voice nothing else can duplicate. With a resume as impressive as Glenn Zaleski's, it's somewhat surprising this is his first trip showcasing that voice unaccompanied. He's shown some clever and snappy compositions with the excellent trio that recorded My Ideal (Sunnyside, 2015) and Fellowship (Sunnyside, 2017). The life of a busy working player has meant a range of other collaborations and live work in between the milestones on record. Still, Solo Vol. 1 refreshingly fills in a gap that was too long empty.
Zaleski's love of the instrument and its timeless sounds (conveyed in a thoughtfully well-written liner note, or whatever the equivalent term is for a purely digital release) is almost rivaled by his affinity for the favorite standards that make up the program. Since his playing naturally tends toward the bright and friendly, it's only natural that this recital is an intimately fun onethe tunes are cozy and familiar while the stamp of his personal style affectionately shades each one. The wily left hand sets a dynamic foundation on its own, either with smooth-flowing chordings or bouncing grooves that stay neither staggered nor static.
Some spots have high and low chords bouncing back and forth almost in a small game of hopskotch, while the moodier centerpiece of "In the Wee Small Hours" builds and ebbs with particular eloquence. The recording's most interesting surprise is a take on Bird's "Passport" that weaves its form and melody with nothing but a chordless single-note run right up to the finish. Things veer just a bit angular on "Round Trip" and a jumpy "Tones for Joan's Bones," though the affair still goes down easy as a glass of merlot through all its different modes; the clear voices of the player and instrument make a combo both classy and inviting. Will volume two explore some original tunes in the same way, perhaps? Too soon to say, but we can probably trust that things will still be all smiles, whatever else is to come.
Visa; I'm All Smiles; Passport; In the Wee Small Hours; Tones for Joan's Bones; All the Things You Are; Round Trip; Summer Song.
Glenn Zaleski: piano.
Title: Solo vol. 1
| Year Released: 2018
| Record Label: Stark Terrace Music
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