One look at the song titles on this album & I mutter to myself: "aw geez, ANOTHER album of done-to-death standards, played by ace musicians who can play this kind of stuff in their sleep--and prob'ly did." But after one spin, I got the hot sauce out so I could eat my words. Psych Doc/pianist Denny Zeitlin is America's secret jazz weapon, a fellow who can fortify a bunch of standards with so much brainy yet passionate invention they could demolish even the most jaded jazz-head.
He's a superb melodic pianist in that Kenny Barron/George Cables/Jaki Byard mold--or imagine a forward-looking (i.e., post-bop/post-free) Tommy Flanagan. "The Man I Love" becomes a haunting, harrowing and stirring quest, recalling the spiritual drive of early-to-mid-70s McCoy Tyner at his peak without ever sounding like him. The title tune is full of swirling yet grounded swing (Al Foster & Buster Williams are at their respective peaks here--both rippling & subtle) and Bill Evans-style lyricism. If you ever wondered what Sonny Clark might sound like today had he not gone to the great Vanguard In The Sky, give this a listen or three.