Picking up where the enrapturing "River of January" left off, Dave Zinno Unisphere's follow-up, "Stories Told," further explores the wild and beautiful jungle of jazz, more specifically, the Brazilian/Latin tributary: electric, funky, passionate, and rhythmic. 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). 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.
The recording kicks off with "Neurótico",ť by J.T. Meirelles, a samba jazz gem that sets the tone perfectly. Elsewhere, there's a sweet rendition of Lennon-McCartney's "Michelle",ť arranged by pianist Ray; "Tá",ť a rhythmically dynamic fusion of neo-Latin styles; and the powerful "Requiem",ť composed by Mike Tucker in his father's memory, which was heartrending for all of the players. "Stories Told" is, as it should be, a melting pot of pure jazz excitement, performed with verve and executed with inspiration. If you liked "River of January",ť a recording with broad appeal and accessibility even considering Unisphere's gorgeous intricacies, you'll surely appreciate hearing these Stories.