Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b 10 April 1938, Chicago) Composer, keyboards, bass; he had a parallel career in psychiatry. He had already been a professional musician as a teenager, studied medicine at Johns Hopkins, studied harmony with George Russell during a 10-week fellowship in psychiatry at Columbia U., and was introduced to John Hammond by Paul Winter. He began recording for Columbia Records in a Jeremy Steig trio '63 (flautist Steig b 23 September 1942, NYC had albums on Atlantic, Reprise, Blue Note, CMP, Enja). He had not intended to seek a recording career at all, but his skill and sheer joy at making music immediately attracted attention. Zeitlin's trio albums on Columbia included Cathexis with Cecil McBee and Freddie Waits and Carnival with Charlie Haden and Jerry Granelli, then Live At The Trident (all '64) and Zeitgeist '66-7, some tracks with Haden and Granelli and some with Joe Halpin and Oliver Johnson. He appeared at Monterey and Newport jazz festivals, then retired from music '68 to study electronics, keyboards, and the possibilities of fusion while maintaining a private psychiatric practice.
He formed his own record company Double Helix for Expansion '73, then Syzygy '77 and a solo piano Soundings appeared on 1750 Arch. He did the soundtrack for film Invasion of the Body Snatchers '78, and when that was done, after ten years of electronics, he went back to acoustic music.
More albums were Time Remembers One Time Once '81 on ECM (co-led by Haden), Tidal Wave '83 on Palo Alto (Quicksilver CD), Homecoming '86 on Living Music, Trio '88 and In The Moment (quartets and duos with David Friesen) '88-9 on Windam Hill, a solo at Maybeck Hall and a two-piano recital with Friesen '93-4 both on Concord. Other projects included music for episodes of TV's Sesame Street, and further albums As Long As There's Music '98 on Venus in Japan, licensed to 32 Music; a duo album with David Grisman called New River 2001 on Acoustic Disc; and Slickrock 2004 and Solo Voyage 2005 both on MaxJazz.
In Concert on Sunnyside, released in early 2009, featured his current trio, with bassist Buster Williams and drummer Matt Wilson. The three Columbia studio trio albums from the mid-1960s were reissued in a Mosaic Select 3-CD set, also in February 2009, with a dozen new tracks from the sessions.