The Dan Zinn 4...Zinn is what i like to refer to as a "stealth" musician. All the firepower in the world and you often don't see it coming but when it does then it hits you right between the eyes. Did I mention Zinn knows his way around a flute as well? Zinn exudes passion and can shift meter and harmonic influences on a dime. It is inherently unfair to compare artists to each other but...for the uninitiated think about Jan Garbarek, Joe Lovano, and perhaps later Stanley Turrentine before his edge left for the jazz witness protection program. There are plenty of jazz triple threats on the scene but those operating as an instrumentalist, composer and arranger at an artistic level this high you can count on one hand.
What makes the new release Grace's Song which drops on 04/03/2013 work so well is that the quartet assembled here plays like a working band with about twenty years under their belt. Taylor Eigsti handles the piano while John Shifflett on bass and Alan Hall on drums round out a killer rhythm section. Together this 4tet gives solid and consistent interpretations of Zinn originals and for a little touch of flavor Zinn reharms the Sting tune "King of Pain" and the Hogie Carmichael number "Stardust." While this might seem like an odd pairing for a disc of largely original material, both tunes fit the ebb and flow and the 4tet simply crushes these tunes and allows Zinn to make them his own.
The Zinn tune "Live and Learn" opens the session with a subtle yet articulated swing led off by pianist Eigsti and quickly joined by Zinn on tenor saxophone. Odd meter and a free form improvisational approach allow this group to take flight. Shifflett and Hall keep a smoldering swing happening just beneath the surface while Eigsti takes a more spatial approach with a definite harmonic sense of purpose. "King of Pain" starts off with an abstract call and response between Eigsti and Shifflett and Zinn joins in and keeps the melody straight. It would be incredible easy for this tune to crash and burn as some pop tunes simply don't make that jazz translation coupled with arrangement best left for happy hour at the local Hilton. "Red Rover" is a bit more foot to the floor where drummer Hall owns the pocket and Zinn joins in while allowing Hall to lay down a groove that is undeniable.
Most artists and recordings of this nature border on the predictable, even with an A list ensemble sitting in. Zinn has a sound like none other, tiny bits of previous influences occasionally pop up but otherwise put up a sign "Caution...Artist At Work." To a degree, Zinn transcends virtually any label one may wish to tag him with.
As a tenor player myself, Zinn has me convinced the best place for my horn is on the wall of a local TGI Friday's.
Tracks: Live And Learn; Western Skies; Grace's Song; Jumpstep; King If Pain; Corazon; Red Rover; Stardust.
Personnel: Danny Zinn: tenor sax; Taylor Eigsti: piano; John Shifflett: bass; Alan Hall: drums.