Home » Jazz Articles » Chris Pattishall: Zodiac

Album Review

Chris Pattishall: Zodiac


Sign in to view read count
Chris Pattishall: Zodiac
This is pianist Chris Pattishall's take on Mary Lou Williams' "Zodiac Suite," an extended work that has been unjustly overlooked in jazz history. Williams originally recorded this suite in solo and trio format but Pattishall rearranges it for his quintet and adds subtle sound design touches by Rafiq Bhatia that enrich the depth and context of the music without radically changing it.

This accounts for things like the rattling percussion in the middle of "Gemini" that breaks up the quick firing horn parts, and the slight, smeary echo on the martial drumbeats and fanfare of "Leo." "Aquarius" is a gentle collage of baroque horn and piano lines underscored by repetitive drum patterns that turns into a brisk rhumba at the halfway mark. "Scorpio" has a swaying vamp with meandering horns that suddenly goes into a maelstrom of sour moaning and comes back as an easy rocking groove, while the hesitant slow opening of "Taurus" gives way to woozy blues roaring which gets swallowed up in a wind tunnel effect.

When foreign sounds are not involved, the music mostly maintains a leisurely swinging feel. Ruben Fox's saxophone and Riley Mulherkar's trumpet strut with assurance over Pattishall's piano on "Virgo." Jamison Ross' drums power the band's dramatic sweep on "Capricorn," and "Cancer" is a drifting ballad with swooning horn work. "Ares" features the quintet flying along on a hot bouncing rhythm before calming into a spot of slow graceful tenor and ending with a rumbling storm of noise.

Fox and Mulherkar are excellent throughout, and Pattishall and the rhythm section play expertly underneath. The leader follows Williams' lead on some tracks and plays without the horns. He leads a sweet trio waltz on "Pisces" and also has a couple of solo spots. "Sagittarius" is a restless but careful line with a hint of Ellingtonian beauty and a "Three Blind Mice" quote, and "Libra" is richly romantic with a lovely melody.

Chris Pattishall's arrangement of the "Zodiac Suite" retains the grace and liveliness of Mary Lou Williams' writing but gives it enough sonic color to freshen it up without too much alteration. It is a great contemporary treatment of a piece of music that deserves to be better known today.

Track Listing

Taurus; Gemini; Cancer; Leo; Virgo; Libra; Scorpio; Sagittarius; Capricorn; Aquarius; Pisces; Aries.


Chris Pattishall: piano; Riley Mulherkar: trumpet; Ruben Fox: saxophone; Marty Jaffe: bass; Jamison Ross: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Rafio Bhatia: sound design, programming.

Album information

Title: Zodiac | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Self Produced

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Post a comment about this album



Albare & Co.
Fire Hills
Olie Brice Trio / Octet
Far Horizons
Brian Auger and the Trinity


Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.