Chris Ziemba, Manhattan Lullaby

by Jeff Becker

The winner of the 2011 Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition, pianist and composer Chris Ziemba is becoming an active presence on the New York City jazz scene. He made his debut in the national jazz spotlight in March 2009 as a guest artist on Marian McPartland’s famed NPR radio broadcast, “Piano Jazz.” Since moving to NYC in 2011, he has been involved in a wide range of musical projects. He has performed and recorded with some of the leading voices on today’s jazz scene, including: Ted Nash, Ron Blake, Marcus Printup, Hans Glawischnig, and Ryan Truesdell’s Grammy-winning Gil Evans Project. Ziemba also leads his own trio and quartet to lend a voice to his own compositions.

On Manhattan Lullaby, Chris Ziemba teams with fellow jazz innovators Michael Thomas, alto saxophone, and bass clarinet, Hans Glawischnig, bass, and Jimmy Macbride, drums for a set of highly original and forward thinking jazz.  From the opening notes of the jaunty “Josie” to Harry Warren’s harmonically rich “I Wish I Knew,” this group is always listening and creating musical conversation that is captivating to listen to and enjoy. Ziemba’s sense of melody and harmony are excellent, from the haunting sounds of “The Road Less Traveled,” the sprightly swinging “Little T,” Ziemba always digs deep for that surprising chord or turn of melody that draws you into the music.  The title track is simply beautiful and Ziemba’s playing is outstanding, Thomas’ bass clarinet is very fitting for the selection and his playing is top shelf.  “Escher’s Loop,” is a wonderful contrafact that will make any jazz aficionado’s toe tap. This is an excellent debut release from an insanely musical pianist and is highly recommended.  Don’t miss the opportunity to check it out.