Solo piano performance takes me back to my earliest roots, and allows for perhaps the most intensely personal musical statement. - Denny Zeitlin We know from Greek mythology that a labyrinth is a maze that seemingly never ends. When a musician performs before an audience, he/she leads the listener through the maze-thread of his/her artistic mind with artistic fulfillment beaming at the exit point. The Labyrinth has a special meaning for the celebrated pianist/composer/psychiatrist Denny Zeitlin, a composer of import and an artist with more than sixteen recordings as a leader and who has worked/recorded with many, including Charlie Haden, Herbie Hancock, and Pat Metheny. Labyrinth is the name of a composition he originally recorded in the sixties with bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Jerry Granelli, and it is the title of his second solo piano release on Sunnyside Records. The album was recorded in July 2008 in Sebastopol, California as part of Ernie Shelton's House Concerts, a special series of home-centered performances for small audiences. While I've enjoyed the excitement involved in walking out on a stage to a huge audience, I have also cherished the unique intimacy created in smaller settings, such as a room in someone's home, filled with less than 100 people, Zeitlin writes in the CD liner notes. And if those people are willing to reach out and meet the music halfway, then boundaries between player, instrument, room, and audience can easily dissolve, and some very deep, rich music may occur. Ernie Shelton's House Concerts provided this atmosphere, and I believe something special emerged. In that engaging and intimate setting, this profound and pleasing program of American popular songs, jazz standards, and original compositions is Zeitlin s most successful musical house call to date. The eleven-track CD boldly displays all Zeitlin s pianistic prowess as Wayne Shorter s African-inspired classic Footprints is reinterpreted with evocative piano string manipulations and clever tempo shifts from a loose free tempo to a dancing 6/8 feel. Sail Away and Street Dance are two Brazilian-tinged selections the former composed by Tom Harrell and the latter by Zeitlin that highlight how the pianist dances the bossa-nova and samba. In contrast, Zeitlin s treatment of Irving Berlin s They Say It s Wonderful serenades with an Errol Garner-like sonority, while his renditions of Richard Roger s People Will Say We re in Love and Arthur Schwartz' Dancing in the Dark boldly go where other pianist s re-harmonization and deconstruction have not gone before. As Long As There s Music was made famous as a fox trot by the late George Shearing but Zeitlin recasts it as a stately waltz. Slipstream, a futuristic, blues-tinged selection, and the title track are challenging pianistic tour-de-forces that Zeitlin hopes, ...will give the listener a sense of what it is like to be in a labyrinth the mystery of it; the repeated paths, obstacles, expectancy, frustration, and discovery. I'm aided in the improvisation by the multi-timbral possibilities inside the piano.