Denny Zeitlin

Precipice: Solo Piano Concert

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Denny Zeitlin's career as one of the greatest but woefully under-appreciated modern jazz pianists, may have taken a turn with the release of his early period Mosaic/Columbia trio reissue studio sessions, and several fine recordings for the Sunnyside label. This solo concert done at the Ralston House in Santa Barbara, CA recalls older standard favorites of Zeitlin's and adds on some of his beautifully conceived originals, exuding a spirit that suggests both renewal and determination of continuance. As a diversified modernist, Zeitlin is as easily capable of playing beautifully as he is of ripping up be-bop, but it is his advanced harmonic sense that sets him above and beyond most others. He's also capable of modal music, interpretations of show tunes, funky underpinnings, or introspective sounds that reflect his influences -- Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, and Thelonious Monk. Perhaps originals like the playful, active "On the March" gives you more an indication of how ultra-melodic a performer Zeitlin can be, but when you hear the rhapsodic, romantic "The We of Us" there are more layers to reveal. Always a champion of jazz giants, Zeitlin tears the speedy Sonny Rollins bop standard "Oleo" as if child's play, and uses soul-stirring, cascading harmonics during Wayne Shorter's lesser-known "Deluge." Whether in tricky time signature, loving discourse of lyrical proportions, or the occasional angular flight of fancy, Denny Zeitlin's expertise shines through familiar music and the spontaneously derived jazz that marks his a true master of the idiom, time after time.

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