Mark Zaleski Band – Days, Months, Years (2017)

Share this:

feature photo: Greta DiGiorgio

The last time we checked in on what Mark Zaleski was doing, we asked his near-name twin to do the honors. But while more attention might have been paid here to his pianist brother Glenn, talent runs deep in the Zaleski family. There’s a good reason Mark’s profile had been lower, as it’s been a whole decade since he’s followed up on his Mark Zaleski Band’s eponymous debut, but that changed in 2017 with the release of Days, Months, Years, which again showcases his abilities as a bandleader, composer and multi-instrumentalist.

When the Zaleski brothers got together for Duet Suite, Mark played reeds — and does so again here — but this time he also handles most of the bass chores. Glenn is at his side again on keyboards, as is Joe Bean on tenor sax, Mark Cocheo on guitar and the live band’s bassist Danny Weller appears on a real loose blues rendition of the Charlie Parker tune “Big Foot.” Drummer Oscar Suchanek (Either/Orchestra) is the newcomer, having coming on board about four years ago.

“Mark In The Park” is the happy result of a lot of juggling: not only does Zaleski coordinate his saxophone and bass parts so it sounds like a cohesive sextet, but also meshes together a hard-bop theme with a jazz-funk bridge, where he lays it all out on alto. His brother’s turn contrasts with a supple swing. “Cerina” has a charming surprise at every turn, as at begins with Zaleski and Bean playing two different variations of the melody at the same time, after which the rhythm section crashes in with a Latin rhythm. They then ease into a relaxed mode set by Glenn perfectly suited for launching Cocheo’s and then Bean’s solo features.

A pretty, repeating figure forms the basis of “Days, Months, Years” and the piano playing Zaleski puts some aptly lilting expressions around it. As the song moves on to other solos, the depth of this composition unfolds. Thelonious Monk’s “Epistrophy” is totally refreshed with the arrangement Zaleski brought to it; a slinky groove given more crunch by Glenn’s Wurlitzer and Cocheo once again gets the nod to spice it up with a smoldering solo.

There’s a lot of soul oozing from “Katie’s Song,” especially with Zaleski’s soprano sax leading the way. But typical of most tracks on this album, the song doesn’t stay in a certain spot; when Zaleski has his spotlight, the pace picks up and the melody goes through multiple changes. It’s part of his effort to follow through an assertion the Patriot Ledger once made of his combo: “no one will ever accuse the Mark Zaleski Band of being boring.”

Days, Months, Years is anything but boring. Varied, inviting, unpredictable but never jarring, the only negative thing I could say about Mark Zaleski Band’s latest product is, “what took you guys so long?”.


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
Share this:
Close