UnityGroup: Critics Speak
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"Fulfilling expectations isn't what UnityGroup is about. Its about talent expressed through individuality that's accepted in its own right." -Valerie Zehl, Press Sun Bulletin Dec 12, 2002 (Read entire article)
"Take a journey around the world with UnityGroup!" -Press Sun Bulletin
"Unity Group, the CD, is clean sounding, and a pleasure to listen to. Unity Group live lives up to the CD, check them out at your very next opportunity." -Rob Wandell / Music Outlook
"The flow of the music seemed completely natural to them (the musicians), as though the music was already going on before they started, and they all just kind of dropped in to play along with it for a while." --Drew Allport, STI Focus, volume 12, number 1, fall 2000
"UnityGroup creates music that is both fascinating and incredibly infectious. . They can easily move between an ethereal sound and high energy rhythmic grooves. A performance by Unity Group is a memorable experience in poly-cultural music." George Graham, WVIA Television
"UnityGroup's facility with global musical styles is a testament …to their commitment to letting music communicate in ways that transcend national, cultural, or language barriers…a joy to experience." --K Matthew Dames, Press Sun Bulletin
"Wonderfully positive up beat music that you can't sit still to. The energy level is high, the enthusiasm is contagious... so different from other music you hear. FUN!" Joel Smales, Binghamton Symphony
facility with global musical styles is a testament …to their
commitment to letting music communicate in ways that transcend
national, cultural, or language barriers.…a joy to
K Matthew Dames, Press Sun Bulletin
"It is always a delight to host UnityGroup. Audiences and staff alike are quickly caught up in their multi layered, high energy sound. The music is always uplifting and very innovative. They have delighted young and old alike at each performance. It's hard to sit still during a Unity Group concert.... their music literally moves the heart, soul, and body." Lou Ligouri, Director, Endicott Performing Arts Center
"I want to thank the members of UnityGroup for providing such outstanding performances to our participating schools. The music is beautiful and engaging." Suzanne Hester, Executive Director, Southern Tier Institute for Arts in Education
"From my personal point of view, music is prayer. When UnityGroup plays, I feel ready to pray. Their music seems to flow spontaneously and naturally from deep places in the spirits of these incredible musicians. Whatever the mood of the piece--meditative, soulful, evocative, energetic--I hear my own yearning for connection. It becomes for me a place of entry into the divine-human dialogue." Gary Doupe, Pastor, Centenary-Chenango Street United Methodist Church
"Fusing funk, world
beat, jazz and joy has been UnityGroup's thing from the onset,
and barring a live performance (always the best way to experience
this troupe), you won't find a better example of their
singular blend than on this tight and driving disc." Andy Stevens: Press Sun Bulletin, Thursday January 24, 2002 (read the entire article)
In response to the WSKG
radio broadcast of Private Audience, April 11, 2003:
"Dear Harris- We never know what good we do when we let fly with our personal best. This is as good a reason as any to keep at it. That your radio concert would cause someone to pick up an instrument again does not surprise me in the least. I see you guys collectively and individually more than ever as the key players the most likely fellows to turn around the Binghamton music scene and as such you should expect a certain contagious swell of creative impulse attending your playing.
Your music is so good that putting you on the radio certainly helped anyone who might have come upon it- including those who don't or can't get out for music- through their day. You fellows play so well that if the radio was on in the right place there is a very good chance you saved at least one life in a geographical area as large as our listenership. Your music is in so many ways a prayer for the erasure of the distance between people- aiming so high both spiritually and aesthetically and hitting the mark.
To extrapolate from all this and switch personas- I invite you to imagine the pleasure and pride I feel to have presented you. This oportunity to cause a show like this to run it's magical course wherever it was able to be heard- makes leaving what I left behind to take this job worth it all- like nothing else, really. Thank you again for this wonderful gift to the region and the immeasurable pleasure of hearing you play live again."
-Heather Dunbar, WSKG Radio .
Guys, I think I SAW music tonight! There's a
name for that. You guys were wonderful. great. When you play a Song For
You, I don't know what goes through you, but i just feel a lot of love
and gratitude for each of you and your talents. I really have come
to love each of you. You have each individually brought me a lot of joy and
years ago when I came upon you, your music lifted me up and has been a gift in
my life in more ways than one. We really value your friendship.
Best wishes. Love, Carol Golumbeski
A word from K. Matthew Dames:
Traditionally, we think of unity as oneness of mind among a number of persons. The interesting thing about this interpretation is that it suggests the possibility of embracing divergent styles, so long as each of those styles contributes to a group's ultimate goal. What I like best about the Binghamton, New York based sextet UnityGroup is that through its music, it stretches the concept of unity as far as possible without breaking it, using different methods and styles to achieve its ultimate goal: to present, perform and share soul music.
Much to my dismay, the term "soul music" is no longer a term for music that encompasses a variety of elements and genres, all melding together to positively motivate the spirit. Instead, the term has devolved into a euphemism for music made by or for a black, urban audience, a lamentable circumstance since few musicians - black, white or brown - are engaged consistently in the practice of performing soul music. That UnityGroup commits itself to soul music immediately sets this debut apart from most of the albums available on the market today.
Of course, soul music must still be played well to be enjoyed; one's spirit is not usually motivated by uneven tempos or errant notes. Not to worry: a big reason that UnityGroup is able to achieve its ambitious goal is because the Group's members consistently exhibit a deft command of their respective instruments. At the core of UnityGroup's sound is a strong rhythm section made up of the Three J's: Jim Rosati (drums), Joe Burton (percussion) and Joe Perkins (bass). In just a short time together, Burton and Perkins have developed an uncanny ability to use melody, tone and counterpoint to augment Rosati's rock solid trap work. The result is that the trio provides a platform that is strong enough to fuel the band's sound, yet subtle enough for each member's voice to remain evident, as is the case on the sultry "Samba."
Immediately atop the Three J's are Harris Thor (guitar) and Tom Sorber (keyboards). Thor and Sorber may have the most challenging jobs in the band, as they are expected to provide the gateway from the rhythm section to Robert Weinberger's melodies while steering clear of each other. The pair perform this function capably throughout the album, especially on "Kathy's Blue" and "See Song." : As the band's producer and principal songwriter, Robert Weinberger is a natural leader for UnityGroup. Weinberger's role seems obvious once it is revealed that he is also a holistic healing practitioner. As he does in his homeopathy practice, Weinberger uses his knowledge of a wide range of elements - in this case, an array of woodwind and percussion instruments - to infuse each musical performance with the right balance of jazz, world beat, funk and rhythm and blues. With the other members affording him a solid foundation upon which to extemporize, Weinberger is often left free to add or subtract as he sees fit. After nearly 25 years of performance experience, his instincts are consistently correct.
UnityGroup's holistic approach to music is certain to attract those that seek more from their musical experiences than the sonic equivalent of a sugar rush. The music throughout this album is tranquil, yet invigorating; forceful, yet uninvasive. It leaves the listener full and satisfied. Like any worthwhile aesthetic experience, it is food for the soul.
K. Matthew Dames
Tour of the 12 Inch Musicworks
© Copyright 1998, K. Matthew Dames. All Rights Reserved.
© Copyright 1998-2020, Robert Weinberger, Harris G. Thor. © Copyright 1998-2020 UnityGroup. Please request permission to use photographs and audio clips.