Monday, July 15, 2013

Denny Zeitlin Both / And SunnySide 2013 5 Stars!

Denny Zeitlin turns the solo piano world on it's head with the most ambitious work of his storied career. A stellar performance and unique hybrid that others have attempted but with no where near the harmonic wonders that Zeitlin creates here.
Brent Black / @CriticalJazz

Denny Zeitlin has always been a prolific composer and performer having worked with artists as varied as Charlie Haden, Pat Metheny and John Patitucci. Zetitlin has also had repeat performances on the Tonight Show as well as CBS Sunday Morning. The solo piano work is the most dangerous format for a pianist as working without a harmonic net can either be a resounding success or a train wreck waiting to happen. Both/And is an incredibly inventive approach combining both acoustic and electronic instrumentation in a setting that celebrates Zeitlin's prolific talent not only in jazz but in the world of the classical as well as a smoldering funk bass and the more open ended avant-garde.

To a certain extent this is a release documenting Zeitlin as a cultural by product of his own experiences over the last thirty years. The only live recorded instrument is a Steinway grand piano while the layers of texture that weave their way in a synergistic ebb and flow are from the digital realm of keyboards, sampled instruments and unique sound sources processed digitally but remaining oddly organic with an all most three dimensional sonic depth of field. While one might expect a release of this nature to be somewhat "one note" we find Zeitlin going far deeper than what other artists have attempted with an electro-acoustic format. "Meteorology" is a delightful riff on perhaps the greatest fusion ensemble of our time in Weather Report. "Dawn" is an evocative sound scape capturing a duet at the break of day, electric bass and symphonic strings capturing both a stirring soul and a vibrant lyrical approach that celebrates the human spirit and the possibilities that are ahead with the start of a new day. "Monk-y Business Revisited" is an extended post modern suite first approached in 2003 and reaching full development in 2012. The full timbre of a symphonic orchestra that takes an initial trio approach into the broad spectrum of a rich sonic color palette with the introduction and primary themes broken down into funk, waltzing to memories, piano segue, audio kaleidoscope and finale. The transitions here are effortless with a captivating ebb and flow that is as evocative as the dynamic cover art pictured above. Simply put, this is Denny Zeitlin as his creative apex. 

In the world of solo piano it is easy for a release to become over produced and virtually sanitized for you're protection. Both/And takes the predictable world of the solo piano and flips into solo electro-acoustic adventures that mark a significant point in the modern jazz catalog for solo piano. Easily one of the best releases for 2013

Tracks: Meteorology; Dawn; Tiger, Tiger; Kathryn's Song; Dystopian Uprising; Charango Dream; Monk-y Business Revisited. 

Personnel: Denny Zeitlin: Composer, Arranger, Performer.