Thursday, July 9, 2015

Denny Zeitlin, George Marsh, Riding the Moment, Duo Electric-Acoustic Improvisations

Of all the jazz pianists of stature who have delved into a multi-key electric synthesized approach to the art, Denny Zeitlin may well be the most creative and satisfying. His music loses nothing of its immediacy, but it gains an almost orchestral dimension to it. He is a master improviser still, of course, but when tackling an array of acoustic and non-acoustic instruments (piano and synths), he is also a master orchestrator.

You can hear all that very dramatically on his new album in tandem with his long-time drummer associate George Marsh. Riding the Moment (Sunnyside 1408) gives us some profound new compositions-improvisations for the duo, 11 in all.

As the liners remind us, Denny first got electrified in the later '60s in a series of albums that included George on drums and Ratzo Harris or Mel Graves on bass. The music was seminal but then Denny returned to the acoustic instrument and stayed with that mode until the turn-of-the-century. Both/And (see the September 13th, 2013 review on these pages) marked Denny's return to the multi-instrument fray, with the inspiration of the new synthesizers and their increased sonic color options.

That was an impressive outing. Now with Riding the Moment he reunites with George Marsh for a program that stands out as even more masterfully done, with the immediacy of the very creative and musically astute Marsh to add to the texture and drive of the music.

"Orchestrated" is the word. Without losing any of the essential excellence of the Zeitlin line and harmonic inventiveness, we experience a fully varied set of aural possibilities that have all the magic of the Zeitlin-Marsh chemistry but with a hugely imaginative way of creating vivid sound textures.

It's a masterful, wildly interesting program and perhaps also an object-lesson on how to make use of the new instruments to create an uncompromising music of beauty and drive, jazz in the A-1 mode.

You need to hear this. It is fascinating, explorative, exciting music here, Zeitlin and Marsh at their very best!

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