The excitement in George Jinda's voice here is as kinetic as the constant musical surprises darting throughout the ten tracks of his stirring Shanachie debut Between Dreams. Talk to anyone who has ever witnessed the world-class percussion master in action, either with his own band or as half of the seminal contemporary jazz duo Special EFX, and they'll confirm that the ongoing shift in dynamics, whether conversational or musical, was one of the Hungarian's most remarkable traits before his debilitating stroke. Eleven releases with guitarist Chieli Minucci and two more with his own outfit, World News, have secured Jinda's place in the genre's annals, and yet there endures a restless spirit in a musical palette that has evolved over the years in almost as logarithmic a fashion as his hundreds-strong collection of worldbeat "toys." Always a master of eclecticism, Between Dreams finds Jinda at the top of his craft, digging into more jazzy and soulful ideas than ever before with the help of all-star studio compadres guitarist Henry Johnson, bassist Gerald Veasley, saxman Mark Johnson, keyboardist Alex Bugnon, and longtime Jinda cohort and fellow countryman, pianist Szakcsi. As Jinda's interests evolved from worldbeat toward a decided street vibe (the 1994 Special EFX gem Catwalk hinted at this transformation), he also found a way to integrate his gifts as a soundscape master with the machine-oriented parameters of the genre. His expertise at integrating his exotic flair into the jazzy, groove-oriented street vibe he strove for shines clearly from the opening strains of the sensuous title cut (which features Henry Johnson's snappy jazz guitar) and continues on the more overtly percussive soulful punch of the Temptations cover, "Just My Imagination" (with Fernando Saunders' soothing background vocals, as well as Mark Johnson's smoky soprano sax harmony) and the reflective ballad "Foreign Affair," which blends Henry Johnson's acoustic touch with synth strings. Henry Johnson's smooth approach also makes the cover of Brandi's "Broken Hearted" an instant quiet storm classic. Jinda helps out his funky cause by recruiting pianist Alex Bugnon to spice up the bluesy, swaggering "Hometown Girl."
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran