Saturday, July 7, 2012

Denny Zeitlin Wherever You Are Sunnyside 2012

Solo piano recordings can be the equivalent of tap dancing in a musical mine field for some artists. Denny Zeitlin reconfirms his ability to interpret a ballad as well as any pianist today. Wherever You Are is a solid and well thought out presentation of ballads from the American Songbook, some well crafted original compositions and some tasty riffs on the great Antonio Carlos Jobim.

One of the more interesting aspects of this release is Zeitlin's very specific and direct attempt at what some would consider "mood music" be it with a glass of wine or that Sunday morning cup of coffee or as the smooth jazz aficionado's sometimes say, chill music. Zeitlin's true gift is his keen sense of lyrical direction and harmonic balance when it comes to working without a net. Naturally some of the more familiar tunes do make an appearance including "Body And Soul" but Zeitlin digs a little deeper than most pianists do in this format and takes a slightly more eclectic set of tunes with which to showcase his prolific talents. The Jobim medley "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars/How Insensitive" is a perfect example of an artist looking for something more than to simply beat the same standards to death for a quick pay day before moving on to the next project. The Zeitlin composition "Time Remembers One Time Once" is a captivating waltz that he breezes through carrying the listener along for a joyous ride.

There is a buoyant ebb and flow to the release with well paced and a thoughtful emotional quality to the melodic course charted which is again apparent with another Zeitlin original "Wherever You Are." While I can live without the re-harmonized "Body And Soul" and "I Hear A Rhapsody" one would be hard pressed not to find this as one of Denny Zeitlin's most entertaining releases to date. Some melodies simply do not need reinvention to the extent attempted here but Zeitlin's harmonic direction does indeed win out in the process. While the format has been done by numerous artists, Zeitlin's release is one of the more entertaining for the year.

Tracks: Body And Soul; Good-Bye; Quiet Night Of Quiet Stars/How Insensitive; Last Night When We Were Young; I Hear A Rhapsody; Time Remembers One Time Once; The Meaning Of The Blues; My Dream Is Yours; You Don't Know What Love Is; Wherever You Are.

Denny Zeitlin: solo piano.