Crossroads: Brooklyn to Berkeley

Crossroads: Brooklyn to Berkeley features the first release of all original compositions by Zilber since 2000’s Two Coasts, the Independent Music Awards Jazz Record of the Year finalist. For Michael, who has co-led a band with drumming superstar Steve Smith since 1995, this represents a real change of musical direction. “I love Steve, value our friendship and loved our 8 years co-leading a group, but I realized that as he has moved from the Bay Area to Ashland, Oregon and is touring heavily as a sideman and doing drum clinics, it was a great opportunity for me to rekindle some musical relationships with other favorite players, as well as make new connections.”

The material has also changed for Zilber. “I was aware that I had written over 200 new pieces of music since my last all-originals recording, and that they deserved to see the light of day. With Steve, we mainly focused on the reimagined standards from the CD of the same name. Even on the tour with Lieb, we mainly played a mix of the reimagined material and standards. Many of my newer tunes reflect a more melodic, harmonically richer approach, with a lot of space for breath in the music, and I wanted to put together a group that felt comfortable living in that musical world, as well as swinging in the modern New York way.” To that end, Zilber is surrounded by the cream of the new acoustic generation in New York, bassist James Genus (Herbie Hancock, Mike Brecker, Dave Douglas, Chick Corea), drummer Clarence Penn (Mike Brecker, Dave Douglas, Maria Schneider) and pianist Bruce Barth (Terence Blanchard, Nat Adderly, MaxJazz). On two tracks, his mentor and long-time musical associate, jazz master David Liebman joins Zilber. Says Michael, “I was so pleased to get the exact group of players I wanted for this recording. And it was an added bonus that, in the case of Lieb, James and Bruce, my musical friendship with them stretches back as far as 1981.”

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