Pianist Glenn Zaleski has a new solo piano album out now. It’s a simple affair, not too flashy or ostentatious. He’s playing standards with a gentle deftness. He’s not making some monumental effort like he’s trying to be Keith Jarrett. However, this isn’t a wholly throwaway endeavor. Yes, it’s a free album available for download at his website with all the seriousness such a freely given creation seems to evoke, but he’s really sharing with us all the beauty he’s able to make when he, with some degree of carefully-considered craft, sits down at the piano and plays.
This is a simple album tackling Charlie Parker, Ornette Coleman, perhaps a little Chick Corea. His take on “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” is simply beautiful, not over the top but wrenching every drop of charm it can muster from the tune. “Passport” is sprightly trifle, so pleasant, you’ll miss it if you blink. His walk through “All the Things You Are” is as fantastic as to be expected, relying as much on the breakdown of ideas as much as his standard cleaving to the wonder of the structure of chords. In all his interpretations of songs, he’s never too busy, never over the top. He keeps a cool head in his creations, letting these songs still remember to speak for themselves. They’re standards because they’re still good songs, and Zaleski works in service to this idea.
Zaleski isn’t brash. He’s not making wild runs, pounding out ostinatos or making endless loops birthed from crazy music theory. He’s always had a functional, workman quality to his playing that charms, satisfies, and gets the job done. He has all the making of a young staple player. It would make sense for him to release a solo piano album that works for him as simply as an individual player as he would with his own group configuration, backing his talented violinist wife, Tomoko Omura, or in trio format alongside Rick Rosato and Colin Stranahan. He’s got a musical voice that works like glue, and in his Solo Vol. 1, we can all see his stands on his own quite nicely as well.
Solo Vol. I, the new solo piano album from Glenn Zaleski, is available for free from his website.
Nextbop Editor-in-Chief Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current.