Denny Zeitlin: Mirage
Denny Zeitlin (piano)
The Columbia Studio Trio Sessions (Mosaic Select 34)
Composed by Denny Zeitlin.
Recorded: Los Angeles, April 16, 1966
Rating: 98/100 (learn more)
If proof be needed that Denny Zeitlin is a significant jazz composer, look no further than this seventeen-minute epic. It’s the centerpiece of Zeitgeist, the pianist’s fourth and last album for Columbia. Zeitlin’s studies with composer George Russell no doubt influenced him, though “Mirage” sounds nothing like Russell and everything like Zeitlin.
As befits the title, “Mirage” is subtle and atmospheric; it contains two themes, the first of which is complex and polymetric. As demanding as the piece is on the trio’s skills as ensemble players, it’s also a showcase for each as soloists: there are free sections that in turn spotlight the gifts of each player. The best jazz composers (e.g., Ellington, Mingus, Russell) have written for the strengths of their musicians, and Zeitlin follows brilliantly in that tradition.
One wishes that Zeitlin would resurrect and further explore “Mirage,” though it’s difficult to imagine a better performance than this recording.
Reviewer: Bill Kirchner