These journeymen New York City musicians are not household names. But together, Peter Zak, Paul Gill and Willie Jones III constitute one of the most polished, intelligent, swinging piano trios now playing jazz in New York or anywhere else.
Zak’s total album craftsmanship is impressive. The program is fresh, balanced and varied, with an emphasis on strong underplayed works by jazz composer-keyboardists. Larry Young’s “Plaza de Toros” is first about three separate, synergistic rhythmic streams—and then only about Jones’ hip, tumbling solo. Bud Powell’s “Strictly Confidential” has a suave unison theme statement by Zak and Gill, creatively altered chords and a silk-lined groove. “Actual Proof” is an orchestral acoustic-trio arrangement of a tune from Herbie Hancock’s plugged-in Headhunter period. Typically for Zak, his choice of a Monk piece is atypical. “Wee See” is imaginatively segmented and reassembled.
Zak is also an exceptional ballad player. Duke Pearson’s “You Know I Care” and the Dietz-Schwartz classic “I See Your Face Before Me” are elaborated with in-depth thoroughness, musically and emotionally.
A huge strength of this album is the team of Gill and Jones. They keep fluid, complex time, and Gill is a poetic soloist, both pizzicato (“I See Your Face Before Me”) and arco (“Day by Day”).
For Tomorrow gets better every time you play it.