Denny Zeitlin is known as a musician of great taste and vast breadth of interests. It should come as no surprise that most of the great pianist’s collaborators have been equally eclectic and brilliant in their musical pursuits. In the long list of tremendous accomplices, bassist Buster Williams and drummer Matt Wilson have cemented themselves as two of Zeitlin’s most dynamic and moving.
The trio has entered their 18th year as a working combo and, though they are all busy in many endeavors, their unique chemistry makes every performance a not to be missed event. Their new recording, Wishing On The Moon, was recorded live at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in New York City on March 10, 2009.
Zeitlin had always admired Buster Williams' s playing, and loved the warmth and immediacy along with his elastic and propulsive groove he displayed in their first encounter—Denny's trio recording, As Long As There's Music (Venus).
Shortly thereafter Zeitlin and Williams needed a drummer for a performance at the San Francisco Jazz Festival. Matt Wilson was recommended, and after Zeitlin delightedly checked him out on the Internet, and was hired for the gig. Though there were quick rehearsals with bassist and drummer separately, the first time this trio hit together was at the concert. Matt's connection with Denny and Buster was immediate and telepathic. Everything fit like a hand in glove.
The trio’s connection is deeply collaborative: each member has an equal voice in contouring the music. The mutual trust has allowed for the continued evolution of the group sound and dynamic and to create what Zeitlin calls true “trio music.”
The recording presented is an exemplary instance of the trio’s cohesiveness, a fantastic snapshot of the band at that point of their union. Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola was a wonderful venue for playing and recording. The Steinway on hand was impeccably maintained and the recording engineer, Jeff "The Jedi Master” Jones, an expert.
The recorded program is made up of compositions the ensemble was familiar with and which provided them perfect launching platforms for improvisation. Upon deep listening, layers of subtlety are revealed, expressing high levels of confidence, surprise, empathy, nuance and commitment to the creation of ensemble music.
The program begins with one of the ensemble’s favorite pieces, Cole Porter’s “All Of You” (with some extensive reharmonization from the leader), which they frequently use as a leadoff piece at performances. Zeitlin’s searchingly tender “Wishing On The Moon” follows as a slow, yet challenging bossa nova. Originally introduced to the song by George Shearing’s rendition, Zeitlin has found a new life for Jule Styne’s “As Long As There’s Music” as a waltz. The leader’s “Slickrock” was inspired by Zeitlin’s interest in mountain biking and his rides in Moab, Utah. The piece evokes a day's adventures of a group of bikers navigating the treacherous terrain, allowing for some musical gymnastics, including some brilliant free playing. It plays continuously on the CD, but is divided into 4 sections to allow it to be experienced as a suite, and to encourage air play.
A staple of Zeitlin’s book, the lullaby “Put Your Little Foot Right Out” follows as a divine, relaxed, gentle waltz. Zeitlin’s shifty “There and Back” takes its inspiration from Tolkien’s "The Hobbit," and balances between funk and jazz time. Williams' bass mastery is on full display before the trio launch into David Friesen’s bluesy “Signs & Wonders,” a longtime favorite and propulsive, driving piece perfect to conclude the program.
Hearing a mature and highly intuitive band is always worth celebrating. Denny Zeitlin’s trio featuring Buster Williams and Matt Wilson has once again opened the curtain to reveal truly brilliant music making on their Wishing On The Moon.
released May 11, 2018
Denny Zeitlin - piano
Buster Williams - bass
Matt Wilson - drums