Tangria Jazz Group is what happens when the academy gets bored in the classroom and decides to go blow in the studio. The trio's first recording, Songs From Lady Bird
was inspired by drummer/percussionist/physical chemist Sheryl Mebane's jazz novel Lady Bird
(Pearl Street, 2003). Mebane's Eleven: Tunes for Two
(Blastfamous, 2007) featured an abundance of original material and sidemen. The eponymous Tangria Jazz Group
brags an abundance of standards with a couple of originals that shows the group maturing.
The group kicks off its third offering with a schizophrenic "Nature Boy." The piece begins as an airy piano solo that organizes itself (at the command of Mebane's informed drumming) into a samba. Justin Hellman plays the acoustic bass, giving the piece a humid and organic sound. Simon Rochester delivers a beautifully conservative piano solo. A mainstream reading of John Carisi's Israel" follows, sporting an obtuse solo from Hellman.
John Coltrane's "Impressions" is given a tasteful treatment by the trio, played slightly upbeat and with an abandon that would have made Trane proud. Joe Henderson's "Isotope" offers a not-often-selected standard for the band to play. Rochester gives an inspired improvisation, as does Hellman. Mebane's drumming is always graceful and never overpowering. She possesses a very sensitive ear for herself and her band mates that helps make the Tangria Jazz Group one of the most viable and important trios performing today.
Personnel: Simon Rochester: piano, gankogui (1); Justin Hellman: bass; Sheryl Mebane: drums, djembe (7).