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Plunge, Dancing on Thin Ice

by Tim Madison

- 5 stars!

With Wynton Marsalis stumping the traditional New Orleans swing sound in a manner that could be described as nearly monomaniacal, it's good to hear some music coming out of the Big Easy that is in touch with what's happening today. Plunge keep an ear to the street with their latest release Dancing on Thin Ice, on Immersion Records, and a foot tapping on the sidewalk.

This is the sound of the real New Orleans. The trio, featuring Mark McGrain on trombone, Tim Green on Saxophone, and James Singleton on double bass, deliver an album that marries gritty blues with jazz elegance, and stays on the avante edge.

The band are surprisingly (in the absence of a drummer) groove focused, illustrated by songs such as the opener, “Friday Night at the Top,” or the effects laden, “Luminata No. 257.” They still find space on the album for an occasional free exploration, such as the track, “Orion Rising”; but the soul of this band is tied to the groove. The band's funky approach and willingness to expand their sonic palette with effects invites comparison to another unappreciated New Orleans based unit: Astral Project, a band that has a connection with Plunge through bassist Singleton.

Whether it's through an experimentation with a variety of wah styled effect sounds, or through pure creative improvisation, Plunge grab their listener's attention with each of the eleven tracks on Dancing on Thin Ice, bringing the sound of the modern New Orleans jazz underground to life once again. This is music of the people, not dumbed down for the masses, but spoken with street eloquence.                      



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