There are few jazz pianists performing today who excel in the art of the straight-ahead piano-bass-drums trio as brilliantly as does Peter Zak. The empathy that he, bassist Peter Washington, and drummer Willie Jones III achieve on all 10 tracks of The Disciple—the Los Angeles-born, New York- based pianist’s tenth album in 10 years for SteepleChase Productions and eighth such trio recording for the esteemed Danish label—is nothing short of breathtaking.
“The fact that the piano is the lead instrument in terms of playing the melody appeals to me,” Zak says of the trio format. “There’s that, and the hookup between the ride cymbal and the bass doesn’t get any better than that. The reason I play jazz is basically for that feel.” Critics are sure to rave about The Disciple, much as they have for his earlier trio recordings.
“Peter Zak has developed into a pianist who knows what to leave out when playing, giving his music a buoyancy often lacking in trio CDs,” Ken Dryden wrote in NYC Jazz Record of Zak’s previous release, 2013’s The Eternal Triangle with bassist Washington and drummer Billy Drummond. “[T]his,” Dryden added, “is an interactive trio of equals, not just a leader and sidemen.” “The three musicians are as tight as a regularly working trio, even though they don’t play together too often,” Lee Hildebrand said of the same album in Oakland’s East Bay Express.