“He is the jazz world’s most visible Renaissance man — a full time practicing psychiatrist, a medical school teacher, and a world class jazz musician.”
Los Angeles Times
Denny Zeitlin has recorded over thirty critically acclaimed albums; twice won first place in the Down Beat International Jazz Critics Poll; written original music for Sesame Street; and appeared on network TV, including repeats on the Tonight Show, and CBS Sunday Morning. Zeitlin’s lecture-demonstration “Unlocking the Creative Impulse: The Psychology of Improvisation” has been presented across the U.S. and in Europe. He has concertized throughout the U.S., Canada, Japan, and Europe, at colleges, jazz clubs, and major festivals; appearing with jazz greats such as Joe Henderson, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Tony Williams, Bobby Hutcherson, John Patitucci, John Abercrombie, Marian McPartland, Charlie Haden, David Grisman, Kronos Quartet, Paul Winter, David Friesen, Matt Wilson, Buster Williams and many others.
Zeitlin was born in Chicago in 1938. His parents were both involved in medicine and music. He began playing the piano at age two, studied classical music throughout his elementary school years, and fell in love with jazz in high school—a made-to-order medium for his primary interest in improvisation and composition. He played professionally in and around Chicago while still in high school. in college and medical school, he combined jazz with formal study of music theory and composition with Alexander Tcherepnin, Robert Muczynski, and George Russell. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Illinois in 1960 and received his M.D. from Johns Hopkins in 1964.
He is currently a psychiatrist in private practice in San Francisco and Marin County and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. His first series of records appeared on Columbia in the mid and late 60’s, and were received with critical acclaim and international exposure. Zeitlin then withdrew from public appearance for several years in order to develop a pioneering integration of jazz, electronics, classical, and rock. This music emerged in the early 70’s with multiple recordings, culminating in the 1978 electronic-acoustic symphonic score for “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Subsequently he returned to a primary focus on acoustic music in a multitude of settings, with continued composing, recording, and international touring.
Most recently, Denny Zeitlin has recorded two critically acclaimed albums for MaxJazz: In 2004 he released “Slickrock”, a trio CD featuring Buster Williams, bass, and Matt Wilson, drums. “Solo Voyage” followed in 2005, featuring solo acoustic piano and piano with synthesizer orchestration. Later that year, Zeitlin launched a comprehensive multi-media website detailing his activities in music, psychiatry, wine, fly fishing, and mountain biking: www.dennyzeitlin.com.
Touring in the last few years included trio jazz festival performances at Litchfield, Chicago, Monterey, San Francisco, and South Florida; and jazz club appearances at Chicago’s Jazz Showcase, Boston’s Sculler’s, New York City’s Iridium, Oakland’s Yoshi’s, and Los Angeles’ Jazz Bakery, where they played to rave reviews, packed venues, and standing ovations.
Plans for 2009 include solo and trio touring, and the February release of two projects: "Denny Zeitlin Trio in Concert, featuring Buster Williams and Matt Wilson" on Sunnyside Records, and "Denny Zeitlin, The Columbia Studio Trio Sessions," a 3 CD re-issue package from the sixties on Mosaic Records , containing an hour of previously unreleased compositions."