“Shangri La” named among the Best Albums of 2015 by DownBeat Magazine
Featuring Peter Erskine on Drums and Chris Robinson on Guitar.
Although scholars don’t all agree on the origin of the word, dictionaries are united in their definition of Shangri-La: a remote, beautiful, imaginary place where life approaches perfection. Dann Zinn’s new trio release, Shangri La, like that mystical world, takes the listener far from the familiar humdrum and into a place of wonder and newness. Zinn (tenor and processed saxophones, wood flute), accompanied by Australian Chris Robinson on guitars and ukulele, and the great Peter Erskine on drums and percussion, fashions an inviting, often unpredictable musical experience on the Shangri La’s 11 tracks—nine self-composed, the others Zinn’s arrangements of music by Brahms, Puccini and, yes, Green Day.
Explaining why he chose to work within the bass-less trio format, Zinn says, “I was looking for a very open sound, where each timbre is very important, and each note and sound takes on a real importance and has its own space. I love the idea of three people communicating, and even the feel on stage is open and extremely dynamic. Plus, the challenge of problem solving when one takes out, maybe, the most critical part of the band, led the music into new areas. This added quite a bit of responsibility to each of the musicians. Perhaps real art thrives in these limitations. I wanted a tight, lean, spare sound and approach, but still beautiful and accessible. I was not interested in playing jazz per se, but wanted to get to the spirit of jazz, which to me is taking the tools of the jazz style and creating.”
Zinn’s choice of collaborators was no accident. “Peter Erskine is of course one of the most brilliant musicians of our generation,” he says. “He has played with all the greats in every style imaginable at the highest level. This recording combines so many sounds, grooves and textures, and requires such high listening skills, that Peter was my first choice, and did the most amazing job. What I didn’t expect was his uncanny ability to make everything feel so much better instantly—a musical facilitator. His musicality is off the charts! Chris Robinson is a one of a kind. He is brilliant in many styles of music, but holds allegiance only to his own instincts. Great feel, great with the loops, and just a phenomenal soloist. He’s my partner in crime, and this music is tailor made to fit his playing.”
Dann is a world class musician, known for his brilliant saxophone and flute playing, stunning compositions, and contribution to music education in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. Hailed as a “guru,” Zinn finds beauty in making music comes from constant reinventing and searching. In a recent article in the Oakland Magazine, The Zen of Zinn, Zinn says, “I love practicing myself. It’s one of the best parts of being a musician. We’re lucky to be able to do it. Digging for something new is what jazz is all about.” Zinn’s work has developed into a unique style. Having a sound of his own is tantamount to his creativity. By blending diverse influences, Zinn has made his music accessible, melodic, textured, and emotional in both intense and beautiful ways.
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