Rhyme Report

Published on March 14th, 2019 | by Hype Editorial


The Saga of an Ensemble Striving for and Reaching a Climax of Jazz Beauty on Stories Told

The saga of an ensemble striving for and reaching a climax of jazz beauty on Stories Told

Picking up where the enrapturing River of January left off, Dave Zinno’s Unisphere is a deeper exploration into the wild and beautiful jungle of jazz, more specifically, the Brazilian/Latin tributary: electric, funky, passionate, and rhythmic.

The ensemble is supreme and ambitious, benefiting from having a recording under their collective belt and refinement of the Unisphere mission. The performance is a passionate ode to the band’s multicultural vision. Zinno (John Medeski, Hal Crook Adam Nussbaum) here is partnered with Unisphere co-founder Mike Tucker (Arturo Sandoval), Eric “Benny Bloom” (Lettuce), Tim Ray (Tim Ray Trio, Paul Winter Consort) and drummer/percussionist Rafael Barata (Eliane Elias, Marc Johnson, Dianne Reeves).

Together, the band plays with power and passion. Zinno’s killer double bass line that opens “Tá,” the lovely melodic groove that kicks in on “Larrytown,” the menacing opening notes and the subsequent dark, minor-key journey of the ten-minute “7th Hour” … these may seem like brief occurrences, but together they create a battery of epic moments on Stories. 

And the list continues. The samba jazz gem, “Neurótico,” by J.T. Meirelles, opens the session with a sweet breeze. An evocative rendition of Lennon-McCartney’s “Michelle,” arranged by pianist Ray, wrings some unexpected melancholy from the masterpiece. It all comes together on the closing “Triste,” which, ironically, isn’t sad at all. It’s more like a celebration of all the exciting ideas and collective ability this band has utterly smashed together in a din of percussive, beautiful noise. Stories Told is as it should be, a melting pot of pure jazz excitement, performed with verve and executed with inspiration.

River of January, also on Whaling City Sound and produced by Zinno, is, in retrospect, the perfect launching pad for Stories Told. That album, released in 2017, showed signs of what was to come. Stories Told makes good on that initial promise. It’s a recording with broad appeal and accessibility even considering Unisphere’s gorgeous intricacies. One can only wonder what the next chapter holds for Zinno’s Unisphere.





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