The Tone Sha rks are evolving. Intention, their last outing on drummer Dave Storrs' Louie Records, was a low key, meditative affair, a quartet take on Zen-like improvisation. On Four/Five/ Three the group has taken the evolutionary leap from four to seven players and added an undercurrent of constrained raucousness to their sound. Four/Five/Three adds a second drummer, a bassist and a trombonist/vocalist to the original drums/bass/guitar/alto sax combination.
Listening to the rollicking opener, "Earth(the)," you get the impression that this incarnation of the Tone Sharks is nothing more complicated than a bunch of garage buddies (with strong musical proclivities) hanging out in the car barn for the purpose of staying out from under the wives' feet... and thinking, "why don't we play some music while we're out here!" Think Henry Threadgill meets the Maneri Ensemble meets Frank Zappa.
The atmosphere is loose, almost jocular, as they take the tune's simple theme apart, stretch it around and put it back together again, with a remarkable lack of clutter. And I say 'lack of clutter' because of that potentially hazardous two drummer/two bassist foundation. The rhythmic winds here are subtle and complex,without any duplication or stepping on of toes. Indeed, on "Glad to Be" the percussion/bass sound possesses the polyrhythmic logic of the water-muted knock and rattle of a berm of beach cobbles shifting and colliding under a receeding wave.
There are more than a few strange but compelling sounds as the program progresses. A goofy take on George Shearing's "Birdland" ("lulofbird") features mellowed-out, singing-in-the-shower crooning, and a rambling tune called "Naugahyde Mumu" sounds like something the Beatles might have done when they were in a "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)" mood.
The great success of the disc can be attributed to the fact that that Storrs and Company are unbeholden to any corporate entityLouie Records is Dave Storrs' labor of love; and if he turns a profit on it, I'll eat this CD, jewel case and all. It's a situation that allows evolution of the sound to take its own course, its own strange and facinating path, like the birds and beasts of the Galapagos, the oddball mammals down under.
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