Zach Brock ‘Serendipity’ (Criss Cross Jazz) 3/5

zach-brockWith few references amongst the Jazz world for violin, it is unfair to draw on those we are all more than familiar with each and every time a new album or name emerges. Let’s instead delve into the artistry of Zach Brock’s music on this, his eleventh physical release to date. Joined by Aaron Goldberg (piano), Matt Penman (bass) and Obed Calvaire (drums), the quartet deliver up eight stylish compositions ranging from ballad to bop under a general ‘fusion’ umbrella, gliding effortlessly through ‘Serendipity’.
“Swansea” showed the intricacy of Zach’s playing, though the band’s highlight together is on “Segment” – swinging along as it does in tight formation. There is a personality with Mr. Brock, one that fills the room. A delight it must surely be to see these musicians on stage.
The weapon of choice, the violin, is rooted deep in jazz, more so during the 70s, yet its limited appearances in latter times should make one question the teaching practices for the instrument – surely the many thousands of violinists worldwide have a few more jazz lovers amongst their ranks?
“Summer Dance” flows with ease as piano and bass grip and hold the listener’s attention. Aaron Goldberg plays with a fluency and makes for a spotlight moment on the number, and indeed the album, not to mention Matt Penman’s dynamic backbone. There are some pleasant performances throughout, perhaps not as exciting as his ‘Almost Never Was’ album, which still holds a special place during 2012, although with his catalogue growing, we can surely permit him some variation!
The album is a dignified one. It delivers contemporary/modern jazz in a correct manner – no frills, just great musicianship and, equally important, great teamwork. Another excellent choice by Criss Cross Jazz.
In conclusion, if you want to delve into the full beauty of Zach Brock, then ‘Black Narcissus’ from his “Almost Never Was” album is your starting block. Then, like the musicians themselves, broaden your listening horizons for Zach is here to stay and with Downbeat Critics Poll during 2013 awarding him ‘Winner’ for Violin, the music world is grateful for his music. Violin within jazz is a beautiful combination.

Steve Williams