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The Four Bags is delightfully demented group with a tongue in cheek humor that sometimes has a way of distracting the listener from how good these bags really are. The Four Bags include an accordionist, a trombonist, a guitarist, and a sax & clarinetist. Besides this odd instrumentation they also have an oddly eclectic sense of what means music. Their range moves from Parisian cafe schmaltz, to pseudo film noir tough guy stuff, to a brilliant instrumental arrangement of the Beach Boys “Good Vibrations” to a an cabaret/operetta vocal version of one of the Jim Morrison’s famous stinkers (words by Brecht) entitled “Alabama Song.” That song happens to be his Next Whisky Bar anthem that will probably make you cringe in memory of just how ridiculous the Doors could be at their worst. After their Bonzo Doggish forays, it is interesting that the follow up tune to their occasional goofiness is sometimes a beautifully arranged and played jazz piece such as Mike McGinnis’ “Distance.” Tom Aldrich’s “Sketch” approaches 20th century classical music.
This wildly eclectic CD is sprinkled with beautifully composed pieces. In many ways this a composer/arranger’s recording. The ensemble work is impressive; the solos are generally concise and their sense of humor is pervasive. Whenever the musicians do stretch out as in “Se Queen” the players prove to be as good as you imagined they would be if only they gave themselves the chance. With a rhythm section that intertwines among the accordion, the guitar, and the trombone, there is a lightness of touch that often highlights a dialog between two instruments. This is a high quality recording that presents the individual musicians to good advantage. At times I wished they’d make up their mind and decide to either do a totally comic recording or take themselves more seriously and do a straight jazz/classical focused CD. It sounds to me that The Four Bags are both funnier and better musicians/composers than they give themselves credit. This is an interesting recording, and who knows what these guys might do next.
Track Listing: Trevoga; K-Lounge; Good Vibrations; Distance; Family Vacation; Sketch;
Here Today; Se Queen; The Quarry; Alabama Song; Interlude; and Banco
Personnel: The Four Bags are: Brian Drye, trombone; Tom Aldrich, accordion; Sean
Moran, guitar; Mike McGinnis, saxophone & clarinet. On the only vocal
track of the CD, guest vocalist Lainie Diamond sings