Friday, April 22, 2011

Plunge Brings Chamber Jazz to a Good Place in "Tin Fish Tango"

New Orleans is a trombone town. Aside from Kid Ory and the tailgate players. Today for example you have Delfeayo Marsalis, Jeff Albert and . . . Mark McGrain. It is with the latter of the three that we concern ourselves today. He is an integral member of the trio Plunge, the others being James Singleton on contrabass and and Tim Green on alto. They are joined by guests reedman Tom Fitzpatrick and Kirk Joseph on Sousaphone for several numbers of the new CD Tin Fish Tango (Immersion 10-05).

Mr. McGrain's trombone and his compositions are front and center throughout. He is a fine player and writes fully realized material that suits the player resources well. There are times when I am reminded of the Giuffre Trio in the classic days when Bob Brookmeyer and Jim Hall teamed with Giuffre for a music that favored paired-down jazz roots, arranged effectively and cleverly for the resources at hand and swung pretty hard, yet with a free element as well. Plunge does that, only in a way that somehow suggests NOLA roots and occasionally such rootsy offshots as the Dirty Dozen Brass Band (maybe that's because of the lively entrance of the Sousaphone on those numbers that have it).

Everyone plays well. James Singleton in particular benefits from the small-group density. But all are on their game.

It's a very attractive outing. It gets down to the bone, in this case a fish bone? Very very nice. Bravo and I look forward to an encore!


  1. A trombone town indeed in the New Orlean's spirit. Mark McGrain has paved an incredible mnpath with his music compositions. You're right about James Singleton.

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