By Ed Enright | Published September 2020
Pianist/composer Glenn Zaleski fronts a traditional-style jazz quintet on this collection of new and old material that has him re-examining his place in the world on the occasion of turning 30. Unlike his previous leader recordings, which featured him in solo and trio formats, The Question sports a two-horn front line that evokes the classic Blue Note sound of the 1950s and ’60s. Tenor saxophonist Lucas Pino, one of the pianist’s longtime collaborators, and trumpeter Adam O’Farrill, a more recent acquaintance, provide the leading voices on this outing, with Zaleski presiding on piano and rhythm section support provided by bassist Desmond White and drummer Allan Menard.
Among the original tunes on this this eight-song program, several were written in the summer of 2019, when Zaleski was in an especially reflective frame of mind, and a couple were written during his college years at The New School in New York (where he matriculated after studying at the Brubeck Institute). Zaleski also includes an original piece arranged for nonet (with the addition of alto and baritone saxophone, trombone and guitar) and two covers by pianists who were influential to him (Dave Brubeck’s ballad “Strange Meadow Lark” and James Williams’ blues-inspired “Road Life”). “The Question” and “The Answer” serve as bookends, playing off the same melodic line; the former leads off the album with an inquiry of sorts, while the latter concludes the program on a more resolute note. It all comes together nicely and bodes well for Zaleski as he personally looks to a promising, more grounded future while reckoning with his ambitious past.