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Tin Hat Trio: Helium

Jim Santella By

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The talented San Francisco bay area Tin Hat Trio folds a considerable segment of American ethnic music into their acoustic, chamber jazz setting. European history has provided the jazz world with a specific reference for harmony and instrumentation as well as a comprehensive library of folk and classical music. The trio’s original compositions draw upon these concepts to produce swingin’ scenes that tend to conjure up images of ancestral costumes and regional dances. Their "Width of the World," for example, includes elements from traditional blues, flamenco, tango, bluegrass and Gypsy culture. With strong ties to Europe, "A Life in East Poultney" blends the timbres of banjo, harmonica, violin and Marxophone together in a lively waltz. Never heard of a Marxophone? As with most items of interest, the ‘net has a webpage out there in cyberspace, ready to inform and share a listen.

Helium represents one aspect of American ethnic music using instrumental timbres not specifically associated with jazz. Quite successfully, the Tin Hat Trio blends dissimilar genres into jazz’s modern mainstream, giving the listener a program rich in history and steeped in merriment.


Track Listing: A Life in East Poultney; Helium; Beverly

Personnel: Mark Orton- guitar, dobro, tenor banjo; Rob Burger- accordion, piano, pump organ, bass harmonica, Marxophone; Carla Kihlstedt- violin, viola; Tom Waits- vocal on "Helium Reprise."

| Record Label: Angel Records Canada | Style: Fringes of Jazz


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