Tag Archives: Review

Dann Zinn: Day of Reckoning

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California based saxophonist Dann Zinn has just released his fantastic album “Day of Reckoning” where he presents nine new original compositions along with a great version of the classic ballad, “Blame It On My Youth.” Zinn created this project specifically for his longtime collaborators Taylor Eigsti on piano, bassist Zach Ostroff and drummer, Mark Ferber.

“Day Of Reckoning” was recorded in the final weeks of the legendary Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA. Dann Zinn explains: “We ended up being in Studio A, which is actually the best sounding room in Fantasy Studios. However, we could only isolate the bass, which made for a really live situation. A live vibe but a studio sound. So, what you’re hearing is just full on takes we played beginning to end.”

The album starts with the title song “Day of Reckoning” a fast and energetic composition inspired by John Coltrane and Michael Brecker. The song starts at full throttle, with a great saxophone solo, slowing down for the bass solo and gathering speed again for the piano solo. This song is one of my favorite songs on the album and what impresses me most is the energy and the power of drummer Mark Ferber. Dann Zinn has some more details about Mark Ferber: “I wanted the New York vibe on drums, kind of more energy and excitement then you typically find on the west-coast kind of musicians.” Excellent choice.

“Longing” comes next and this tune is Dann’s favorite tune on the album. It starts very calm with a centered and pretty piano intro inspired by cinematic music. The melody is played in different keys like in classical music. The solo part alternates between piano and saxophone and the song winds down at the end with the theme from the intro. Dann has again some more information: “It was written very quickly. I turned on the voice memo on my mobile phone and played the melody. I played it to the guys and they came with all those elements. The melody changes keys and the band keeps adding stuff.”

The album continues with “Continental Divide”. It starts very energetic as a duet between sax and drums in the tradition of Michael Brecker (to whom the album is partly dedicated) and Jack DeJohnette. The singable melody is very much inspired by pop-music melodies and the bridge makes some weird jumps. We hear brilliant solos from Taylor Eigsti on piano and Dann Zinn on saxophone.

“Blame It On My Youth” the only standard on this album comes next. Dann has some more details: “We played it in the studio and everybody took a solo. The song was about 10 minutes long and we had to shorten it. For the piano solo the changes move twice as fast with a half time speed and for the sax solo the changes move normal but with double time feel. This helped to compress the tune. The end was played very spontaneous and is one of my favorite parts of the record.” A very beautiful ballad and also one of my highlights of this album.

“Brave New World” was written in “one fell swoop” as Dann Zinn explains in his podcast: “I picked up my sax, pulled out my phone, hit voice memo and played the song from beginning to the end, so the melody you hear came out in one fell swoop. I wrote it down, went to the piano and made chords, and voila. For a song I would like to give a good anchor, give a good beat and have a melody that can stick in your head.” This song is no exception. Great melody and and an easy to follow form with a very traditional Latin/Swing mix for the groove. Dann plays a fantastic saxophone solo and we hear the live sound during the bass solo with Zach’s voice accompanying his improvisation.

Dann has started a nice podcast where he presents once per week a lot of background information for each song and where I could collect all those details for the first five songs of the album. So for the remaining five songs I would recommend that you follow this podcast under:
https://www.dannzinn.com/podcasts/

Dann shows his versatility on “Infinity Road” where he switches to soprano sax and on “The Journey Home” where he picks up the flute.

“Family Reunion” and “Don’t Look Back” impress with singable melodies and “Time’s Up” is a nice grooving modern jazz composition.

Altogether this album is a great example of contemporary jazz music where saxophonist Dann Zinn has gathered some fine musicians and recorded the music he loves to play. The focus is jazz music but the inspiration and the compositional elements come from different sources like jazz, pop, cinematic and classical music and lead to an excellent album which I can really recommend.

Two official CD release concerts take place on May 30 in San Jose and May 31 in Oakland. So, time enough to organize your trip if you don’t want to miss these events.

Dann has a nice website with a lot of background information and updates on live performances under:
https://www.dannzinn.com/

And finally a complete playlist for the album on Spotify:

Claudia Campagnol: I’m Strong

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An incredible debut album from Hungarian-Swedish-Danish singer and multi-instrumentalist Claudia Campagnol has found it’s way to my desk. Official release date is April 23, but two songs have been released as singles in February and March 2019 and are already available on Spotify.

Claudia Campagnol was born in 1987 in Budapest, Hungary, to parents who are both professional musicians. She sang before she could talk, and started playing the piano when she was 4. The whole family moved to Sweden and by the age of 12 she could be seen “guesting” on her parents’ gigs in venues all around the country.

At the age of 12 she discovered her dad’s Jazz fusion albums with Chick Corea, John Patitucci, Mezzoforte or Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter who inspired her for her first composition “Rainbow Dreams” which is found on the album.

After graduating from the University of Music in Malmoe she worked several years in Sweden and around Europe. She settled in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she met the Swedish-Italian drummer Niclas Campagnol, who became her husband. After a baby break Claudia is back on the scene. In 2017, she reached the final in the Danish “Young Jazz” competition. She also starred on Antonio Faraò’s latest album  “Eklektik” (with Marcus Miller) (a very interesting album) and now she is finally releasing her debut album “I’m Strong.”

The album starts with the brilliant Stevie Wonder inspired  “All Through You”, which was released as a single on February 22 and was selected by Apple Music’s editors for their “Best of The Week” playlist covering all genres.  Claudia plays keyboards, bass and sings lead and background vocals, Niclas Campagnol the drums. This song is a soul-pop song in the best tradition of Stevie Wonder, Al Jarreau or Chaka Khan. I was listening a lot to this kind of music in the early ’80s and so I cannot get enough of it.

“I’m Strong”, the title song of the album comes next. A soft tune which was written for Vivian Buczek for her 2014 album “Curiosity”.  What I like especially is the cool combination of keyboard and vocal sounds.

“Do You Love Me” adds Gábor Bolla (saxophone), Zacharias Celinder (guitar) and Gerard Presencer (flugelhorn). The solo goes to Claudia Campagnol with what she calls her keyboard “signature” sound. Claudia wrote and recorded this tune to win the love of Niclas. Nice story with a happy ending.

“For Her” features Gerard Presencer on flugelhorn and is about a woman Claudia Campagnol once met in a dark and smoky jazz club who “made a hell of an impression” on her. The highlight of this song is definitely the flugelhorn solo by Gerard Presencer.

“Conquer the World” is the second tune that was released as a single.  We see a different line-up  with Jimmy Haslip on bass and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums. Claudia explains: “Vinnie Colaiuta played a monstrous drum fill on John Patitucci’s album “On The Corner” which I just had to rewind a hundred times the first time I heard it. Thanks to my label Giant Sheep Music, one of my greatest dreams has now come true!” The tune has a nice steady odd groove and harmonic sequences that remind me again on Stevie Wonder.

“Rainbow Dreams” is a soft and open ballad.  Claudia wrote the song at the age of 12 and it includes interesting harmonic structures. Claudia explains again: “In my teens, I couldn’t wait to get home from school, put on the meanest chord progressions with the baddest cats on the planet and let all my emotions explode through my ears”.

“Z-Song” comes next and features Eliel Lazo on percussion (he is a friend of Silvio Caroli who was featured in my blog two weeks ago). The melody is sung without lyrics, nevertheless the beautiful vocal arrangement dominates this Latin-song.

“Don’t Let It Die” features Carl Mörner Ringström on guitar. Interesting harmonic sequences and a great guitar solo are the highlights of this ballad. Claudia Campagnol gives us more insights: “If you ever had a best friend or a lover whom you could drift away with over a bottle of red wine, talking about the meaning of life throughout the whole night, as if time almost stood still, then you fully understand this tune”.

“It Makes Me Glad” starts with a great and lengthy a-cappella intro and ends with an open piano solo. The inspiration for this song came after an audition for the Swedish vocal ensemble “The Real Group”.

The album ends with the Charlie Chaplin tune “Smile”.  Claudia prepared an arrangement that combines the melody from this song with her idea of “mean” chords to a very uncommon but rather refreshing interpretation.

Overall a great album with a sound I haven’t heard for many years and that reminds me a lot of the music I was listening to in the ’80s but with a fresh and inspiring touch. It is jazzy, it grooves and it is full of new ideas. Claudia Campagnol managed to do her own thing in a brillant manner. Chapeau!

The official CD release party takes place on April 23 in Copenhagen at the PH Halmtorvet 9. If you are in Bremen at the jazzahead!-clubnight on April 27 you can see her at the Swissôtel Bremen.

More information is found on Claudia’s facebook site:
https://www.facebook.com/claudiacampagnolofficial/

Claudia produced also a nice promotional video:

And finally the album has been released on Spotify: