January 17, 2011
Tin Fish Tango
By Dan McClenaghan
Plunge is a drummer-less trio, featuring leader/trombonist Mark McGrain teamed with bassist James Singleton. The "no drums" approach allows flexibility in the music's time element, and a fluidity of the flow of notes, while horns and bass make room for space as a major component of the sound.
The slippery tango of the title track to Plunge's third CD, Tin Fish Tango, opens the disc, featuring brief, concise soloing, entwined with jaunty bass lines. McGrain and saxophonist Tim Green slip in and out and around each other, giving the tune a mood of New Orleans , the city where the disc was recorded, and where the involved musicians reside. The Crescent City feeling is more prominent yet on "Huff-A-Round" and "Big Bhang Theory," two tunes featuring Dirty Dozen Brass Band sousaphonist Kirk Joseph.
This set of McGrain originals includes moments of whimsical grit ("The Kroop"), funk-filled interludes ("Huff-A-round"), loose-limbed trio improvisation ("Lost to the Vapors," "No Spill, Spew!" and Pelican Down") and a dangerous-sounding stop-time blues ("The Kroop"). The disc closes out with "Diddlin,'" a prowling cool cat groove, with saxophonist Tom Fitzpatrick swaggering out front, leading into the heavy testosterone of McGrain's beefy 'bone blowing.
Taken as a whole, Plunge's music has a funky, let-the-good-times-roll atmosphere, calling to mind the French Quarter and the street musicians in action there. Killer sounds from down 'Nawlin's way.
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