It’s a great week for jazz in the East Bay. Specifically, it’s a great week for jazz piano, with San Francisco pianist Dan Zemelman celebrating his debut album, One Way or Another, this Tuesday at Oakland Yoshi’s. Trained in classical and jazz, Zemelman ultimately parlayed his musical chops into a foreign diplomacy project called the Jazz Ambassadors, which dispatched him to India and Sri Lanka in 1998. Since then he’s performed in various trio and quartet configurations, arranged music for Ragged Wing Theater Ensemble, and appeared on the John Lee Hooker album Face to Face. Versatility is an important quality for any professional musician, but Zemelman is also moored in the jazz tradition.
Rachel Swan, East Bay Express, on the Dan Z Quartet’s 2010 Yoshi’s appearance
While Zemelman possesses a lovely touch and fertile harmonic imagination, what stands out most on One Way Or Another is the probing lyricism that undergirds his group concept. He gives his formidable collaborators plenty of space, but the improvisation is always tightly bound to the melodic line. The resulting music is playful, tender, celebratory and consistently engaging, a rare project that compels a second, third and fourth spin.
Andy Gilbert, SF/bay area jazz critic, on Dan Z’s CD One Way or Another
The Dan Zemelman Quartet brings some serious jazz chops, and a bandleader who really knows his way around the 88s. Expect satisfyingly complicated bebop, tough yet silky.
Hiya Swanhuyser, SF Weekly, on Dan Z Quartet’s 2009 performance at Yoshi’s – Oakland
It should be no surprise that Pacifica Performances has booked one of the hottest jazz duos in the Bay Area for this coming Saturday night – The Erik Jekabson & Dan Zemelman Duo.
Jean Bartlett, Arts Correspondent for the Pacifica Tribune, on The Dan Zemelman and Erik Jekabson duo at the Pacifica Performances Concert Series
Pianist Dan Zemelman blends the numbers together gracefully with his tasteful accompaniment and familiarity with Ellington’s material; he understands his role as both ensemble pianist and operatic continuo.
Kwame Coleman, SF Classical Voice, on Dan Zemelman’s performance in the Oakland Opera’s performance of Duke Elligton’s Queenie Pie