Aug 10, 2020
One of the best piano trios you might not have heard much of over the past fifteen years has been the group lead by pianist Denny Zeitlin. With Buster Williams on bass and Matt Wilson on drums, the three top-notch musicians have recorded five wonderful albums for the Sunnyside label. Living on opposite coasts of the US, the trio interacts sporadically, making the wonder of their live performances all the more delightful.
Live at Mezzrow is their latest release, and it is a topnotch collection of standards and Zeitlin originals. From classics like "Dancing in the Dark" to tunes by Billy Strayhorn and Wayne Shorter, the group finds ways to bring new nuance to familiar tunes. Whether it's reharmonizing or rethinking a melody, Zeitlin continues to show why he is a top interpreter.
Now in his early eighties, he has built two careers simultaeously - as a pianist, and as a practicing psychiatrist, having earned his MD from Johns Hopkins in 1964. A native of Chicago, Zeitlin has shown himself to be comfortable working on avant-garde projects with drummer George Marsh, solo piano interpretations of the Great American Songbook, and with a number of trios over the years. He wrote and recorded the electronic-acoustic symphonic score for the critically acclaimed remake of Invasion of he Body Snatchers in 1978.
Podcast 752 is my conversation with Denny, as we discuss what makes his trio with Williams and Wilson so special, how he searches to find new elements in classic tunes, and the manner in which his study of psychiatry has illuminated his work as an improviser. Musical selections from Live at Mezzrow include "The Man I Love" and a Zeitlin original, "10 Bar Tune."