|Robert Ascroft photo|
With the exception of "Ana Maria" (first recorded for Shorter's 1974 "Native Dancer" Lp) , all the tracks on Denny Zeitlin's new solo piano recording "Early Wayne: Explorations of Classic Wayne Shorter Compositions" (Sunnyside Records) date from the 1960s. Classics such as 1968's "Nefertiti" (composed for the Miles Davis album of the same name) and 1965's "E.S.P." (also for Miles Davis) give the pianist plenty of room to explore. Shorter's melodies lend themselves to side trips as they are often rich in content. Sometimes minimalist but never boring, Zeitlin travels through these songs, changing and mixing rhythms, going from rubato to swing and back again in the blink of an eye. "Miyako" (from the 1967 Blue Note Lp "Schizophrenia") is a lovely ballad,given a gentle treatment yet still filled with melodic twists and turns. Listen to the fun the pianist has on "Speak No Evil", a rhythmic tour-de-force (love that low boogie-woogie left hand) that leads into his first extended solo. How about that rumbling underneath the melody on "Toy Tune" (from the Blue Note album "Etcetera" recorded in 1965 but not released until 1980) - there's no "toying" around as Zeitlin dances through the melody, the run-away rhythm pushing the song forward but never losing control.
For more information and to listen to three of the 10 tracks, go to sunnysidezone.com/album/early-wayne-explorations-of-classic-wayne-shorter-compositions. You should also check the good Doctor at www.dennyzeitlin.com. The album is set to be released on July 8