Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Robert Jospé & Inner Rhythm: Heartbeat

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Robert Jospé and Inner Rhythm play with a jubilant, life-affirming energy.

Jospé is an erudite, relentless drummer/percussionist who teaches at the University of Virginia. The deepest loyalties and affinities of his ensemble (saxophonist Jeff Decker, pianist Bob Hallahan, bassists Randall Pharr or Elias Bailey, second percussionist Kevin Davis) are with islands and continents far from their Charlottesville home. They execute calypso, samba, salsa and African 12/8 and 6/4 funk with passion and precision.

This balance of unleashed muscle and clean control makes originals like “Blue Rumba” and the title track fun and smart. It is also a kick to hear this band’s special dynamism applied to established material. “Señor Blues” is especially nasty but nice. “Yesterdays” flies. “Epistrophy” works surprisingly well as a hip-hop tour de force, all the deadpan Monkian ironies syncopated into extroverted celebration.

Jospé somehow sounds relaxed throughout, and Decker and Hallahan do not. When they get their solo chances, they burn.

Sonic quality is yet another way that Charlottesville, Va., has distinguished itself on this recording. At Haunted Hollow Studio, engineers Chris Kress and Rob Evans achieve admirable clarity and discrimination among instruments on this dense, intense music.