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Denny Zeitlin & George Marsh: Telepathy: Duo Electro-Acoustic Improvisations

Dan McClenaghan BY

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Denny Zeitlin & George Marsh: Telepathy: Duo Electro-Acoustic Improvisations
Pianist Denny Zeitlin's recording career began with his contribution to flutist Jeremy Steig's 1963 album Flute Fever (Columbia Records). Then Zeitlin struck out on his own, creating over five-plus decades worth of record releases on Columbia Records, Decca/ECM, Windham Hill, MaxJazz (and more) before shifting into overdrive when he connected with Sunnyside Records in 2009, on In Concert with Buster Williams and Matt Wilson. Since that 2009 debut with the label, the Sunnyside relationship has resulted in thirteen releases comprising the finest work of his jazz journey, with tributes to Wayne Shorter and Miles Davis along with a string of piano trio and piano solo projects featuring a consistently adventurous mainstream approach which earns him a distinction of having achieved the highest level of artistry in the world of piano jazz..

But, as a jazz pianist, Zeitlin has an ace up his sleeve—electronic music. He became interested in the form in the late 1960s, and he explored it extensively on the then relatively rudimentary instrumentation of the time. Then, in 1977, he received a call from filmmaker Phillip Kaufman about writing an acoustic jazz score for the remake of the 1958 science fiction film The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. He jumped at the chance, not knowing that things would change, that the powers that be would deal him a deuce of hearts, switching the original acoustic plan to one of a proposed 20th century symphonic jazz score with lots of electronics. But Zeitlin turned that deuce into his ace when he raised his hand and said of the change of plans: "I'll do it."

The movie was a huge success, a perfect work of science fiction art, from the screenplay to the acting to the electro-symphonic score.

So, what part did electronic music play in Zeitlin's subsequent work? Not much, until 2013, when he released Both/And: Solo Electro-Acoustic Adventures on Sunnyside Records. Since then he has also offered up a pair of excellent duo electro-acoustic improvisation albums with drummer George Marsh, preludes to the disc at hand, another pairing with Marsh for Telepathy: Duo Electro-Acoustic Improvisation.

The sound of the Zeitlin-Marsh team has evolved. Their first Sunnyside disc, 2015's Riding The Moment, is a terrific trip into the duo's improvisatory world, but starting at such a high point means their progression is one of small increments. These are created via their creation of their in-the-moment sound paintings; as the technology expands—and the telepathic acumen of Zeitlin and Marsh expands with it—the subtle colors and shadings take on new complexities. Zeitlin has found new voices; synthesized guitar sounds are more present than they were previously; an electro-choir surfaces. Marsh's orchestral percussion activities take on a life of their own and he, Marsh, seems more prominent here, more of an equal partner in the artistry.

As the innovation of an electronic approach becomes more prominent in jazz, it is the veterans, Denny Zeitlin and George Marsh—with about a hundred and twenty years of professional musical experience between them—who are making the most interesting music in the field, pushing things further ahead with Telepathy: Duo Electro-Acoustic Improvisations.

Track Listing

Highlands; Quicksilver; Hatching; Black Hole; Moon flower; Boiling Point; On The Move; Disagree To Agree; If Only; Hadron Collider; The Ascent; Odyssey; Maze; Fillmore Dreams.

Personnel

Denny Zeitlin: piano; George Marsh: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Denny Zeitlin: acoustic piano, hardware & virtual synthesizers, keyboards; George Marsh: drums, percussion.

Album information

Title: Telepathy: Duo Electro-Acoustic Improvisations | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records

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