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Glenn Zaleski: Fellowship (Sunnyside)

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Glenn Zaleski: "Fellowship"
Glenn Zaleski: “Fellowship”

Even at its most burning and precocious, say, on “Lifetime” and the opening “Table Talk,” two of the seven Glenn Zaleski originals on this nine-track set, there’s a casualness to the approach of this outstanding piano trio. Stepping out front is accepted, even encouraged, but not expected or required—pianist Zaleski, bassist Dezron Douglas and drummer Craig Weinrib are content to let things unfold easily and naturally, without getting all wound up.

Flashy dynamics are underplayed in favor of well-examined intricacies. Solos arrive frequently but rarely do they seem obligatory; they emerge almost incidentally at times, take their rightful place within the whole, then recede without fanfare. Each player is impressive individually, but it seems as though the three prefer those moments when they can seek out that common place where they lock into a special groove and explore it. Although Zaleski (who’s recorded in other outfits previously and as a duo with his saxophonist brother Mark) takes sole credit for the release, you’re never unaware—except, on “Out Front,” an unaccompanied bass solo—that this is a group of equals constantly feeding off one another.

Fellowship is Zaleski’s second release as a leader for Sunnyside; the personnel is the same as on 2015’s My Ideal. Those who’ve become familiar with that album will find no big surprises here, other than the presence of so many original tunes (there were none on the debut). The more subtle, quieter tunes—“Westinghouse,” the title track, Coltrane’s “Central Park West”—are the richest in texture and color, but Fellowship, as a proper introduction to Zaleski the composer, is overall both a fine companion piece to its predecessor and a program that inspires anticipation for more.

Originally Published