Chicago pianist Denny Zeitlin
is a complex and compelling character. The sixty-seven-year-old is an active psychiatrist, a university professor and a top-notch jazz musician. As if this wasn't enough, Zeitlin is a wine expert, a mountain biker and ardent fly angler.
In his second release for Maxjazz, the pianist appears in solo format, his last effort Slickrock
having been a trio session with Matt Wilson and Buster Williams. Solo Voyage
features Dr. Zeitlin's suite of the same title and three other originals. Homage is paid to bop legend Thelonius Monk via a beautiful reading of "Bemsha Swing" and it's a fine example of Zeitlin's phenomenal dexterity at the keyboard. Bemsha is followed by Wayne Shorter's "Miyako" and Zeitlin's own complex "Cascade." At times, the listener will feel that the pianist is endowed with an extra hand or two.
Zeitlin's best-known composition is, no doubt, "Quiet Now." Bill Evans took a liking to the piece and recorded it on several occasions. Denny Zeitlin offers a wonderful thirteen-minute rendition on this CD.
The centerpiece of the album is a half-hour suite in eight movements. Solo Voyage
is an unusual suite beginning with a freeform movement and eventually featuring a Sammy Cahn hit from 1945. "I Should Care" is handled memorably on the synthesizer and goes a long way to make Solo Voyage
enjoyable to a wide audience.
Jazz fans are encouraged to view a 10 minute video on the artist's website. It offers an insight into the structure of the album and the multi-talented musician.