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Denny Zeitlin 

Slickrock

Wednesday, Jul 7 2004
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File Bay Area resident Denny Zeitlin under "overachiever." Not only is he an ace jazz pianist who in his spare time composed music for Sesame Street as well as the electronic score for 1979's remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, he's also a practicing psychiatrist. His latest record, Slickrock (named for a type of sandstone), finds him brilliantly reinventing archaic standards like "You & the Night & the Music" as a percussive, unsentimental, yet warmly lyrical panorama, and "Sweet Georgia Brown" as a contemplative, heart-swelling ballad. The lengthy title suite finds his trio -- Buster Williams on rippling, sinuous bass and Matt Wilson on crackling, unpredictable drums -- engaging in inspired discourses that go from exhilarating, focused free-playing to madly propulsive, hard-bop swing -- and back again. Slickrock has nary an excessive note to be heard among its 13 tracks. It's all killer, no filler, as yesteryear's hepcats would say.

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Mark Keresman

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