All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review


Dann Zinn 4: Grace's Song

Hrayr Attarian By

Sign in to view read count
Saxophonist Dann Zinn's third release as a leader, Grace's Song, is an intriguing and charismatic album. Interestingly, however, the very feature that makes it consistently engaging also results in a lack of thematic unity. This unevenness can simultaneously delight and frustrate, depending on circumstances.

Zinn is a virtuoso tenor saxophonist inspired by saxophone master Sonny Rollins' brassy and thick sound and sophisticated, recognizable style. Zinn's eloquent, passionate solo burst out of pianist Taylor Eigsti's percussive chords with darkly modal hints on "Live and Learn." His intricate impromptu construct is tightly woven over the percolating rhythm section and, although it wanders far from the original melody, it never meanders aimlessly or becomes abstruse.

Elsewhere, on Sting's "King of Pain," Zinn's undulating tenor unravels with Levantine mysticism like a fairy tale, over drummer Alan Hall 99's primal beats, which nicely contrast with Eigsti's understated and introspective sonata. Eigsti brings a wistful undercurrent that satisfyingly completes this enchanting tune.

This kind of duality characterizes other tracks on the disc, such as the haunting and cinematic "Western Skies." Zinn's electric saxophone echoes the main theme over galloping rhythms, creating a dusty, far-west ambience. Eigsti's angular and intricate improvisation, with its modal hints, enhance this overall western soundtrack feel. Meanwhile, the vaguely eastern flavor of Zinn's ardent and acerbic tone exquisitely balances the piece as he takes his turn in the spotlight.

Perhaps the boldest and the most unique composition is the contemplative, sax-driven "Red Rover," with its boppish undertones. Zinn's modal saxophone stretches out over Hall's complex and propulsive polyrhythms. Bassist John Shifflett's edgy, intelligent and unfettered extemporization matches Zinn's own free-flowing ideas, making this pensive music quite thought-provoking and intellectually satisfying.

Not the entire record, however, maintains this experimental and explorative rigor. On the funky "Corazon," Zinn's smooth tone flirts heavily with instrumental pop but with enough creative embellishments to askew a full embrace. The energetic and appealing "Jumpstep" is catchy without any extensive improvisations, showcasing Zinn's, vibrato-filled, delightfully laidback groove as Eigsti tastefully adorns the song with classically influenced harmonies.

The title ballad and the closing standard, "Stardust," are also quite alluring without the edgy sense of adventure—both quite mellifluous without being syrupy. "Grace's Song" starts off as a lullaby with heady, shimmering lines, and closes with Zinn's soulful, vaguely R&B-ish solo, while "Stardust" is replete with late night romance—but with only a dash of spontaneity.

Without a doubt, Zinn is fast emerging as an adroit composer and agile improviser with a compellingly singular voice. The duality that manifests itself here can be viewed as both a reflection of this versatility and an indecisive restlessness. Regardless, Grace's Song remains enjoyable and stimulating, even after multiple spins.

Track Listing: Live and Learn; Western Skies; Grace's Song; Jumpstep; King of Pain; Corazon; Red Rover; Stardust.

Personnel: Dann Zinn: tenor saxophone; Taylor Eigsti: piano; John Shifflett: bass; Alan Hall: drums.

Title: Grace's Song | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Self Produced


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Shangri La

Shangri La

Self Produced

Grace's Song

Grace's Song

Self Produced


Related Articles

Read Live In Healdsburg CD/LP/Track Review
Live In Healdsburg
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Carpe Diem CD/LP/Track Review
Carpe Diem
by Don Phipps
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Exotica CD/LP/Track Review
by Chris May
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Oriental Orbit CD/LP/Track Review
Oriental Orbit
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Brightbird CD/LP/Track Review
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Peaks of Light CD/LP/Track Review
Peaks of Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 18, 2018
Read "Constant Change 1976-2016" CD/LP/Track Review Constant Change 1976-2016
by John Sharpe
Published: July 19, 2017
Read "Outside The Comfort Zone" CD/LP/Track Review Outside The Comfort Zone
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 24, 2017
Read "Tribute to Bobby" CD/LP/Track Review Tribute to Bobby
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 5, 2017
Read "Embodied Hope" CD/LP/Track Review Embodied Hope
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 6, 2017
Read "Hourglass" CD/LP/Track Review Hourglass
by Paul Rauch
Published: May 18, 2017
Read "Threes" CD/LP/Track Review Threes
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: July 12, 2017