Down Beat (p.50) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "By turns impressionistic and tightly focused, this is a beautifully paced and sensitively played recital."
JazzTimes (p.56) - "LABYRINTH is an effortless tour de force."
Audio Mixers: Vadim Canby; Denny Zeitlin.
Recording information: Ernie Shelton's House Concerts, Sebastopol, CA (06/2010); Ernie Shelton's House Concerts, Sebastopol, CA (07/2008).
Photographers: Bret Primack; Jim Coe.
Arranger: Denny Zeitlin.
Since the mid-'60s, Denny Zeitlin has balanced his multiple careers as a psychiatrist, medical school professor, and jazz pianist/composer. Late in his career he has focused more frequently on solo piano, including this second live CD for Sunnyside of unaccompanied performances, drawn from concerts in 2008 and 2010. Zeitlin's touch is so distinctive that his longtime fans will recognize his playing immediately, particularly in his introspective, inventive approach to Wayne Shorter's modal masterpiece. Zeitlin strums and hand mutes the piano's strings, interweaves magical improvised lines, and keeps this familiar work fresh with his dramatic interpretation. His lyrical take of trumpeter Tom Harrell's "Sail Away" is a masterful, subtle exploration. The pianist's galloping treatment of John Coltrane's "Lazy Bird" is similar to his earlier version on his CD At Maybeck, though he takes even more chances this time around. Zeitlin is also at home with standards, offering a lush, spacious treatment of "As Long as There's Music" and a slow, shimmering setting of "People Will Say We're in Love." The pianist's originals are just as striking. Zeitlin has recorded his infectious "Brazilian Street Dance" on several CDs, though this playful version includes a subtle introduction with the pianist strumming and tapping the beat on the piano strings, then becoming a one-man Brazilian band with his rhythmically charged performance. For the other two originals, he revisits works he wrote early in his career. The eerie "Labyrinth" keeps the listener guessing as to its direction, often sounding as if it was a totally improvised piece. Zeitlin's edgy "Slipstream" blends an improvised introduction and a wide-ranging exploration incorporating adept use of dense chords, pedal technique, and string manipulation in a breathtaking finale. Like the vintage wines that Denny Zeitlin collects, the masterful pianist keeps getting better with age. ~ Ken Dryden