Mark Zaleski Band: Our Time: Reimagining Dave Brubeck (Origin Records, 2021)

October 2, 2021 at 11:21 am | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Mark Zaleski Band: Our Time: Reimagining Dave Brubeck

Boston’s Mark Zaleski pays tribute to his biggest influence with a set of Brubeck interpretations. While the compositions are recognizable, he does add new elements to them and avoids being too faithful, because you can just listen to the originals if you want to hear them the way Brubeck arranged them. “Blue Rondo a la Turk” opens the set, and it sounds like he added a shot of caffeine to the song, as it sounds even more tightly wound than the original, yet it’s still cool, sophisticated, and graceful. He turns “Unsquare Dance” into more of a soul-influenced tune instead of a country one, keeping some of the handclaps from the original. “They Say I Look Like God”, a plea for unity originally written for Louis Armstrong to sing, is featured due to its continued relevance. Zaleski gives vocalist Michael Mayo space for his stark reading of the lyrics, and the song comes alive during the vibrant middle section. “The Golden Horn” is one of the most playful tracks here, with a busy yet straight-ahead rhythm and lots of spirited soloing. Zaleski himself says his favorite Brubeck songs to play are either the fast, complex ones or the slow numbers, and while he does try to add something new to the ballads, he does a more faithful rendition of “Fujiyama”, which peacefully draws the album to a close.

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