Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

203

Denny Zeitlin: Solo Voyage

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Most jazz artists must face the harsh reality that it's almost impossible to sustain a living by making music. Many find themselves having to take alternate employment in order to allow pursuance of their art, and then face the considerable challenge of doing so without impeding their continued development. So perhaps Denny Zeitlin has had it right all along. While managing to generate a world-class reputation as a pianist, he's also maintained a second life as a practicing psychiatrist.

Consequently, Zeitlin maintains a considerably sparer performance schedule, has a relatively small body of recorded work, and is less connected into the jazz community through sideman appearances. But his life choices clearly haven't impeded his ability to maintain the kind of artistic growth and reputation of better-known pianists like Herbie Hancock, Brad Mehldau, and Keith Jarrett. Solo Voyage is another fine example of just how fully-formed and well-conceived Zeitlin's music is, even though it isn't his sole profession.

His first solo recording since Live at Maybeck Recital Hall, Vol. 27 (Concord, 1992), Solo Voyage finds Zeitlin comfortably mixing well-known tunes like Dave Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way, Wayne Shorter's less-recorded "Miyako, and Monk's "Bemsha Swing with his own compositions and a number of free improvisations.

While not many things link Zeitlin to Keith Jarrett, one common aspect they share is the ability to pull song-like constructs out of the ether. The freely improvised prelude and interludes that are scattered throughout the eight-part "Solo Voyage suite are remarkably well-formed. But while Jarrett seems to be more about extrapolating ideas in a kind of unbridled stream of consciousness, Zeitlin is more focused, using his improvisations to act as thematic introductions or almost summary codas to composed pieces.

Another feature distinguishing Zeitlin from Jarrett is his conception, which is equally advanced harmonically, but leans toward the tonal and round-edged, as opposed to Jarrett's predisposition to the jaggedly atonal and the lyrical. That doesn't mean that Zeitlin's music lacks emotional impact; the improvisation "Walking, Prancing, Marching, Dancing is filled with drama as he utilizes broad flourishes to build the tension.

Zeitlin embraces a complete view of the jazz tradition, with an evolved sense of stride propelling "Cascade and a more abstract impressionism characterizing the gentle "Quiet Now. He's also not averse to embracing technology, utilizing synthesizers to either create subtle orchestration, as he does on "Prelude, or to provide a sequenced backdrop for his imaginative reading of "In Your Own Sweet Way.

While neither overtly cathartic like Jarrett nor abstractly virtuotsic like Mehldau and Hancock, Zeitlin brings his own intrinsic compositional perspective and somewhat contained sense of adventure to Solo Voyage. He may not release records as frequently as some players, but when he does, each one is invariably a significant event, and Solo Voyage is an engaging journey from start to finish.

Visit Denny Zeitlin on the web.


Track Listing: Bemsha Swing; Miyako; Cascade; Quiet Now; Walking, Prancing, Marching, Dancing; Solo Voyage (suite): Prelude; In Your Own Sweet Way; I Should Care; Interlude 1; Lament; Interlude 2; Moving Parts 1; Moving Parts 2

Personnel: Denny Zeitlin (piano, synthesizer)

Title: Solo Voyage | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: MAXJAZZ

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Flaneur CD/LP/Track Review Flaneur
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 16, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 16, 2018
Read Vertical CD/LP/Track Review Vertical
by Don Phipps
Published: January 16, 2018
Read In Stride CD/LP/Track Review In Stride
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 16, 2018
Read Solid Gold CD/LP/Track Review Solid Gold
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 15, 2018
Read Ts'iibil Chaaltun CD/LP/Track Review Ts'iibil Chaaltun
by Don Phipps
Published: January 15, 2018
Read "Blue Skylight" CD/LP/Track Review Blue Skylight
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 12, 2017
Read "Sonder" CD/LP/Track Review Sonder
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 17, 2017
Read "Avant-Garde Party Music" CD/LP/Track Review Avant-Garde Party Music
by Mark Corroto
Published: October 26, 2017
Read "No Parking Any Time" CD/LP/Track Review No Parking Any Time
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: February 12, 2017
Read "Open Borders" CD/LP/Track Review Open Borders
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 1, 2017
Read "Second City" CD/LP/Track Review Second City
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 9, 2017