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Denny Zeitlin: Solo Voyage

Mention Denny Zeitlin and two associations most frequently come to mind. One, that he’s a working psychiatrist; the other, that he wrote the enduring modern jazz ballad “Quiet Now,” a longtime favorite of Bill Evans. Zeitlin, a superb, perennially evolving keyboard improviser and composer, has obviously come to terms with the double punch that his name evokes. “Quiet Now,” debuted in 1966 and revisited by Zeitlin over the years, returns in an epic interpretation on Solo Voyage. That the tune still inspires the pianist to dig deeply into its lyrical core and extract new melodic jewels is testament to the sound architecture of the piece as well as its maker’s staunch instrumental prowess.

A peak performance, “Quiet Now” is surrounded by other examples of Zeitlin’s creative power as a self-sufficient interpreter, including mesmerizing transformations of two compositions quite distinct in expressive sensibility and tempo: Thelonious Monk’s propulsive “Bemsha Swing” and Wayne Shorter’s haunting ballad “Miyako.” The album’s most ambitious moment ultimately belongs to “Solo Voyage,” a stirring multipart memoriam that draws upon Zeitlin’s synthesizer to add tonal color to his poetic acoustic piano work.

Originally Published