Prime of Life, the fifth project on his own label, drummer-composer Pete Zimmer recruited some heavy hitters in saxophonist George Garzone, guitarist Peter Bernstein and bassist Peter Slavov. Together they swing amiably through six Zimmer originals and three tunes by Garzone. A flexible rhythmist, Zimmer conjures a loping, insinuating groove on the laidback title track that falls somewhere between a batucada and a calypso (with a touch of Vernel Fournier’s “Poinciana” beat thrown into the mix). “One for GG,” an uptempo swinger with some tricky stop-time drum fills in the angular head, exhibits Garzone in all-out burn mode, spurred on by Zimmer’s crisp polyrhythmic sizzle. For a change of pace there’s the beautiful ballad “Tranquility,” underscored by the drummer’s supple brushwork, and the cool bossa “Almost Home.”
– Steve Futterman writes about jazz regularly for The New Yorker
Prime of Life is a straight-ahead jazz CD, the fifth recording, as a band leader, for drummer and composer, Pete Zimmer. Like his previous albums, Prime of Life is a clear, crisp, sonically beautiful recording with a group of well-seasoned musicians. On this latest offering from Tippin' Records, Zimmer's own record label which he started back in 2004, six of the nine compositions come from drummer.
Zimmer is a world-class drummer; a name that should be more widespread and on the lips of every jazz aficionado. Driving the band with intricate precision and a delicate touch, Zimmer's time-keeping is exquisite — creative phrasing, tight pocket, decisive note placement, open-triplet realization — an audible lesson from a true jazz scholar.
The first four tracks are Zimmer compositions. The title cut is medium tempo jazz-latin on which Zimmer approaches with mambo bell-pattern on the ride cymbal in 2:3 clave. "One for GG" is an uptempo swing tune with a melody that allows room for the drums to fill between the cracks. "Tranquility," as you'd expect from its title, is a slow ballad with some nice brush work. The fourth composition by Zimmer, "Carefree," is an uptempo jazz waltz. "Strollin' Down Bourbon Street" is a nice walking, medium swing tune by George Garzone. "T.T.T.," another Garzone tune, is a cookin' uptempo swing compositioin, 20-bar head and an interesting 4 to 8 measure latin groove turnaround which the band vamps to take the tune out. Track seven is "Night Vision," another one from Zimmer, is a relaxed, slow tempo tune that swings ... hard. The last Zimmer composition on this project, "Almost There," is a bossa nova with a sweet melody and a mixture of brushes and sticks used throughout. Final track, "The Three Petes," a Garzone tune written for ... you guessed it, the quartet comprised of three gents named Pete, plus one ... is latin-jazz tune with a quasi-baión feel.
Almost all of the tunes on Prime of Life, save the few slow tempo compositions, highlight Pete Zimmer's drum solo abilities, whether it be soloing over the form of the tune, trading fours, or soloing over a vamp. Lots of tasty, prolific music dialogue coming from the drummer's chair.
I highly recommend Prime of Life for any and all lovers of straight-ahead jazz. If you are a student of jazz drumming, listening to Pete Zimmer perform is a treat — an education in this is how it's done.
Absolute Maple Series
18"X14" Bass Drum
14"x6" Vintage Series Maple Snare
14"X14" Floor Tom
22" HH Mini-Bell Jack DeJohnette Signature w/2-Chrome Rivets
21" HHX Groove Ride w/1-Chrome Rivet
14" HHX Manhattan Jazz Hi-Hats
J1 on Batter side of Snare and Toms and Resonant of Toms
Hazy 300 Snare Resonant
G1 Batter and Resonant for Bass Drum
Custom Pete Zimmer Signature Stick (based off AJ1)