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Tangria Jazz Group: Mebane's Eleven: Tunes for Two

C. Michael Bailey By

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The Tangria Jazz Group is ostensibly a jazz piano trio made up of brainiacs from all over the map.

Drummer and composer Dr. Sheryl Mebane is an environmental chemist, bassist Justin Hellman is a product of the music department at the University of California, Berkeley where keyboardist Simon Rochester is currently conducting physics research.

So, what type of jazz does such a brainy bunch produce? Surprisingly, it is quite mainstream and straight-ahead. There are some sharp turns however, so listeners must watch themselves.

The lion's share of the eleven pieces recorded herein are compositions by Mebane save for Miles Davis' ephemeral "Solar and antithetical to that, Eddie Harris' "Freedom Jazz Dance. Mebane writes music that is easy on the ears, easy to understand and relatively unchallenging for the listener. That is, until it isn't.

Rochester splits his time between acoustic and electric pianos, playing both with warmth and intelligence. "Money Time and "Warm show him lyrically and almost completely devoid of Bill Evans influences. He likes to spread the jazz waters with Fred Hersch and Les McCann oars, producing waves of easy funk when necessary and emotive invention all the way around.

"Ethan's Song is an electric piano waltz that never finds Rochester striking the keys to the point of distortion nor Mebane or Hellman offbeat.

"Solar and "Freedom Jazz Dance are respectfully played and thoroughly enjoyable. Rochester has a beautiful touch and when combined with Mebane's thoughtful percussion, makes for superior versions of these standards. Hellman sets up the funk roll on "Freedom Jazz Dance and Rochester adds the heavy cream.

The final two cuts reprise "Money Time and "Warm with the help of guests. These are not mere remixes, rather, they are a complete recasting of the Mebane compositions to very great effect. Here the group begins to misbehave, pushing the music to the edges, offering a potent comparison to the relative straightness for the remainder of the recording.


Track Listing: Teach Yourself To Live Elsewhere; Money Time; Warm; Ethan

Personnel: Sheryl Mebane: drums, jembe, vibes, percussion; Justin Hellman: bass; Alex Pasternak: bass; Simon Rochester: keyboards, saxophone; James Bringetto: guitar; Belinda Catalona: electric violin, mandolin; Giotto Harrison: copper pipes.

Title: Mebane's Eleven: Tunes for Two | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Blastfamous Records


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