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Dave Zinno Unisphere: Fetish


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Dave Zinno Unisphere: Fetish
Dave Zinno's New York-based Unisphere is a quintet/sometime sextet that is rhythmically sound, melodically smooth and anchored by his assertive bass lines. The group employs a splendid two-horn front line (tenor saxophonist Mike Tucker, trumpeter Eric Benny Bloom) and adds a third, trombonist/arranger Rafael Rocha, on the freewheeling closer, "Meu Fraco e Cafe Forte" (in English, "My Weakness Is Strong Coffee") but Rocha doesn't solo. The quintet morphs to sextet on five other numbers wherein keyboardist Leo Genovese joins the rhythm section (Zinno, pianist Tim Ray, drummer Rafael Barata). To be honest, it's hard to tell the difference, even though Genovese (presumably) adds some jungle-like special effects on the lively opener (and album title), "Fetish," and electric keyboard solos on "Unknown Mystery" and "Melancholy Daydream."

The program consists entirely of original compositions—three each by Zinno and Tucker, two by Genovese, and one apiece by Bloom, Edu Lobo, Paul Nagel and Dom Salvador. Most have their roots planted firmly in the jazz canon, and some display a perceptible Jazz Messengers vibe. Tucker, whose tenor embodies traces of Wayne Shorter, Johnny Griffin, Hank Mobley, Billy Harper and other members of drummer Art Blakey's legendary ensembles, as well as some early John Coltrane, is especially incisive on his "Golden Age," which burns with a Messengers- like intensity. Tucker also wrote the less-animated "Melancholy Daydream" and "Over the Horizon."

Genovese also has a keen ear for bop, which he shows on "Out of the Hole" and "Into the Whole," that together must tell some sort of story. Suffice to say that each one inhabits a pleasant groove that lends itself well to crisp solos by all hands save those of Barati who keeps the rhythm humming. Zinno, for his part, makes a strong impression with "Fetish," the melodic "So Close So Far" and enigmatic "Nile," the only number on which the group strays from the norm, and then only for the first two minutes or so. Ray, who solos impressively whenever called upon, arranged Lobo's seductive ballad, "Beatriz," that ever so slightly resembles Charlie Chaplin's "Smile," while Bloom wrote the bracing "Unknown Mystery."

Fetish was recorded in two six-hour sessions in November 2020, and it's clear the musicians were happy to be together again in the midst of a global pandemic that hasn't, as of mid-2021, yet abated. The enjoyment is perceptible, as is the abundance of energy and talent that permeates the Unisphere and makes the group's warm reunion hard to resist.

Track Listing

Fetish; Out of the Hole; Unknown Mystery; The Golden Age; So Close So Far; Beatriz; Future History; Melancholy Daydream; Over the Horizon; Into the Whole; Nile; Meu Fraco e Cafe Forte.


Mike Tucker
saxophone, tenor
Tim Ray
Leo Genovese
Rafael Rocha

Album information

Title: Fetish | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Whaling City Sound



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