Pianist and composer Zack Clarke has received international acclaim for his explorations of jazz improvisation, classical, and electronic music. Random Acts of Order, his debut release on Clean Feed Records, gained recognition as a notable work in both US and international publications, including Freejazzblog critic Rick Joines’ Top Ten for 2017 and the Best of Improvisation from Italy’s Percosi Musicali. He has also appeared in the top pianist selection by Gregory Applegate Edwards in the 2017 El Intruso International Critics’ Poll. Zack’s second release on the Clean Feed label, entitled Mesophase, has drawn acclaim for its ability to unite through-composed ensemble performance, electronic music and improvisation in a captivating defiance of musical convention. Vertical Shores, his third album featuring jazz trio, was released in 2019, earning mention as a notable new release in the 14th Annual NPR Jazz Critics Poll.
“He plays like he’s come unstuck in jazz time.”
— The Free Jazz Collective
Random Acts of Order
Clean Feed Records, 2017
with Henry Fraser, double bass
Dré Hočevar, drums
Clean Feed Records, 2018
Nick Dunston, double bass
Leonid Galavanov, percussion
Charlotte Greve, saxophone, clarinet, flute
Chris Irvine, cello
Clean Feed Records, 2017
Kim Cass, double bass
Dré Hočevar, drums
with Chris Irvine, Cello
Music for Headphones
“Emergent pianist Zack Clarke is constantly searching for brilliant textures to be delivered at the perfect moment.”
Zack Clarke is a pianist and composer living and working in New York City. Random Acts of Order, his debut album on Clean Feed Records, was released in 2017, followed by his 2018 release of the electro-acoustic album Mesophase. His third album on the Clean Feed label, Vertical Shores, was released in 2019. Previous recordings include the electronic album Music For Headphones, and Dialectic, a collaboration with cellist Chris Irvine that features free improvisation based on Bach’s third cello suites. Clarke’s emerging body of work reveals a command of diverse musical styles and a determined pursuit of new ideas through experimentation and improvisation. His music draws from classical, jazz and electronic music; serving to explore the broader concepts involved in improvised and free music.
An active session artist and performer, Clarke has recorded or shared the stage with a number of prominent artists and has appeared before audiences in the US, Europe and South America.
As a collaborator he has appeared on numerous recordings, including Luis Antonio Castro’s albums Koyari, Mirrors, and Rosa; and with percussionist Dre Hocevar on the album Transcendental Within the Sphere of Indivisible Remainder.
A Texas native and alum of Houston’s acclaimed High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Clarke’s abilities as a jazz improviser were recognized early on with multiple awards, including outstanding soloist awards from Downbeat Magazine and from the North Texas Jazz Festival. He attended The New England Conservatory in Boston, majoring in Jazz Performance, and while there had the opportunity to study with jazz greats Danilo Perez, Fred Hersch, and Jason Moran. Upon completion of his Bachelor of Music degree he moved to New York to study with Kenny Werner and attend NYU, where he earned a Masters of Music and worked as adjunct faculty.
In addition to performing and composing, Zack is a dedicated teacher who is grateful for the mentorship he has received, and finds rewards in sharing that knowledge with others through instruction in piano and music theory.
NYC JAZZ RECORD
Zack Clarke pulls out the plug for the piano trio on Vertical Shores and follows the egalitarian models of forerunners such as Bill Evans and Paul Bley by allowing his colleagues equal agency in the edgy interaction he promotes.
ALL ABOUT JAZZ ITALIA
Un disco in piano trio veramente lodevole, come per buona sorte ci capita di ascoltarne non poi così di rado, in tempi recenti. Il che, per una formula che potrebbe apparire consunta e priva di sbocchi, non è davvero rilievo di poco conto. Album della settimana.
With double bassist Kim Cass and drummer Dre Hocevar as engaged co-pilots, Zack Clarke continues his bold reimagining of the jazz piano trio tradition on his third release for Clean Feed. A stellar follow-up to the earlier Random Acts of Order and Mesophase releases…
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
Clarke’s prismatic creative streaks and multifaceted regimen proposes a host of captivating aspects to coincide with the implications set forth by the album title. He possesses an arsenal of ultramodern concepts and is most certainly one to watch.
Clarke gives us a heaping dose of playful detritus that defies any previously hinted-at conventions. It simply sends chills.
Like its predecessor, Mesophase achieves a rapprochement between disparate forces that’s both fascinating and startling.
IN ON THE CORNER
The best thing about listening to new music is hearing something that outright confounds.
FREE JAZZ BLOG
. . . what Clarke and his group have made here is equal parts enthralling and unsettling.
BIRD IS THE WORM
This never-ending cycle of deconstruction-unity is pretty damn fascinating.
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
On this showing it’s clear that this is a triumvirate of names to watch out for in the future.
THE FREE JAZZ COLLECTIVE
The interplay between the trio is euphoric, aggressive. This group respects tradition but they’re not afraid to burn it down. They can play sweet as a gang of harpists, then buzz, furious as bees.
GAPPLEGATE MUSIC REVIEW
This is a free trio with a decided difference. Henry Fraser is the double bassist, Dre Hocevar the drummer, and they both contribute much to the outcome. But it is Clarke’s pianism that especially wins me over.
liner notes for Random Acts of Order
Although the three musicians on this recording are in their 20s, the playing on this recording is mature. It isn’t burdened by unnecessary contrived complexity. Instead, it relies on the precision of listening, collective engagement, and the courage to do something different.
These considerations can be a good starting point for analyzing the onset of Clean Feed the young American pianist Zack Clarke, who is launching a trio of Henry Fraser on bass and on drums Dre Hocevar: its Random Acts of order is among the best music publications.