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Plunge, Falling with Grace (24 bit remastered)

by Tim Madison

- 5 stars!

Listening to the 2009 re-issue of Falling From Grace by the band Plunge (a 24 bit remaster of the 1996 original), it's almost as if time hasn't passed at all. The musical concept of the band today – even though the band's current lineup and instrumentation are almost completely different – has remained remarkably the same.

The concept: a contemporary and untethered exploration of New Orleans rhythm in an experimental jazz setting. Here the rhythm is propelled not only by Avishai Cohen's bass and Bob Moses's drums, but by some seriously inventive rhythm tuba, courtesy of Marcus Rojas. The rhythmic interplay that results is heavy and athletic; enlivened with shades of modern hip-hop and funk; and provides a low end that will give your subwoofer a workout.

With the exception of the free exploration simply titled: “Dog”, the players here never take their eyes off of the bouncing ball, taking a funky, rhythmic approach to the jazz experimentation they deliver in their solos. Band leader and trombonist Mark McGrain seems to have forged his sound deep in the belly of New Orleans, but there isn't anything old fashioned or musty about his playing; he, and the other players keep the sound fresh and modern. Peppered with urban grit and avante zest, the solos here walk the line between sound-as-action freedom – like when Rojas uses an unorthodox technique on the track, “394” to imitate a turntable scratch with his tuba – and blues drenched funky jazz.          

While most experimental jazz musicians today use rhythm as only a vague point of departure, preferring to build solos through the exploration of tonality, Plunge puts the rhythm first; making it the subject, first and foremost of their experimental forays. “I got ants in my pants and I got to dance” a voice says during the intro to the album's opener, “Wagdanz”. This music will get you tapping your toes and snapping your fingers, all the while putting you on the ship to Sun Ra's spaceways.



All content © 1995 - 2011 Mark McGrain

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