by Marge Hofacre
Boston is home to perhaps the most fertile jazz scene in present-day America, and Accurate Records is the current ruler of the roost. Accurate consistently provides their listeners with the cream of Beantown's fiery jazz and experimental music scene, and this is one of their best recent releases.
In Plunge, a seasoned jazz veteran is joined by three
of the hottest young stars of the music; between them they produce music that crosses the
spectrum of jazz history and flies on to new territory. Former Gary Burton/Pat
Metheny sideman and occasional leader Bob Moses provides a tight but flexible drum base
for trombonist Mark McGrain, tuba prodigy Marcus Rojas and upright bass
Wagdanz is a New Orleans-style romp that recalls the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Rojas oompahs with cheerful abandon, sandwiched between McGrain's 'bone wailing and Moses' martial rhythms, while Cohen adds in some percussive high-range pizzicato work. 394 begins with near-gospel strains from the two horns, then Rojas weaves a complicated web of funky tuba underneath the proceedings. On Beneath the Wheel the tubaist squeals in the highest range of the big horn, then plummets down to a bass crash before Moses fires up the groove. Cohen achieves an almost oud-like sound on the Middle Eastern-flavored Just Like Alice, and on Dog Rojas blasts through a distortion pedal to build a rough wall of sound that would make Hendrix proud. Moses gets to take the spotlight on a couple of occasions, most notably the percussion feature Rafael's Drum/H.S.L.E., and McGrain simply excels throughout.
Overall, the musicianship in Plunge is top of the line, and the compositions and arrangements are kept interesting without becoming too abstract to be listenable. Rojas in particular has the potential to become a major force in future jazz, and is already headed well down that path; it occurs to me that this is the third review I've done this month that Rojas was involved with. But all of these gentlemen are second to none in their talent and adventurous spirits. Plunge won't quite be everyone's bag, but it's well worth a listen in order to expand your musical horizons.
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