May 8, 2011
Tin Fish Tango
By Jon Neudorf (5 stars)
Plunge are a drum-less jazz trio hailing from New Orleans and consisting of Mark McGrain (trombone), James Singleton (bass) and Tim Green (saxophone). Along for the ride are guest musicians Tom Fitzpatrick (saxophone) and Kirk Joseph who provides sousaphone on two tracks.
Plunge has made some of the most unique jazz music I have heard in quite some time. All three members are integral to the band's sound. Tenor saxophone and trombone weave around each other in a musical dance that is unlike anything I have heard. Both instruments paint a rich musical palette upon which bass player James Singleton works his magical runs. His playing is also top notch and he provides plenty of solos; suffice to say this trio has no weak links.
Although there are plenty of melodies here they may not hit you immediately as these players throw around improvisation like a hot potato. This is demanding music but relatively easy to listen to partly because there is so much room for the instruments to breath. The music is not dense nor is it airy but somewhere in between. What struck me the most on Tin Fish Tango are the deep, rich bass tones that run through the album, mostly due to some fabulous acoustic bass but also McGrain's adventurous trombone playing. A case in point is the excellent "Huff-A-Round" and its beginning sousaphone adding to the deep bottom end. Each instrument is given the necessary space to shine and Fitzpatrick's tenor saxophone carries the melody splendidly. More outstanding bass work can be found in "The Kroop" featuring sultry trombone stylings and in the show stopping "Big Bhang Theory" where the acoustic bass and sousaphone makes for some delicious lows. Here the saxophone is more dissonant and the sound is crystal clear, as it is for the entire album. Headphones are mandatory with this one.
There are also three improvisational pieces; "No Spill, Spew!", "Pelican Down" and "Lost To The Vapors". All three pieces showcase the talent of these musicians and show just how daring they can be without sacrificing a good groove.
This is excellent stuff. Bottom line – if you like jazz and appreciate excellent musicianship Tin Fish Tango should satisfy your cravings quite nicely.
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