11

Tom Chang: Tongue and Groove

Dave Wayne By

Sign in to view read count
Tom Chang: Tongue and Groove Look at the lineup on Tom Chang's Tongue & Groove! There is literally no way that this album could be anything less than great. Listening, repeatedly, to Tongue & Groove has, in fact, borne this out. Chang utilizes the increasingly popular two-reeds / bass / drums configuration to frame brief, but consistently spectacular, improvisations in the midst of his surprisingly knotty and complex multi-sectioned compositions. Everyone rises to the occasion here because the only way to play Chang's cutting edge compositions successfully is to rise to the bloody occasion!

The only player on Tongue and Groove who I wasn't familiar with as the result of logging long, hard hours with the stereo and a cold brew was the leader himself. Chang is a native of South Korea who, as a pre-teen, emigrated with his family to Canada where he took up the guitar. Under the spell of Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page, Chang's musical curiosity led him first to the blues, and then to jazz. Ultimately, Chang moved to the US in the mid-1980s; first to Los Angeles to study at GIT, and then to Boston to attend Berklee where he studied with Mick Goodrick. After moving, as most jazz musicians do, to New York City, Chang worked with Rich Perry, Rudresh Mahanthappa, and David Binney, eventually forming his own band which gigs at venues such as Cornelia Street Café (where Chang now curates the jazz performance series).

The music on Tongue and Groove is dense and dark, full of wild twists and turns. Saxophonists Greg Ward and Jason Rigby play off one another quite effectively in the context of Chang's compositions, and their distinct improvisational approaches add a lot of depth. The rhythm section here is simply one of the best around. Cleaver and Lightcap balance serious thunder with sensitive delicacy, easily negotiating Chang's constantly metrically-modulating melodic lines and odd-metered grooves. The album opens and closes with one of Chang's most appealing pieces, "Spinal Tap," a quirky tribute to the mythical hard rock band featured in the movie of the same name. Chang isn't kidding about his rock roots, as he happy flies his freak flag high throughout Tongue and Groove. Listening to his solos on the bizarrely bluesy "Bar Codes" and the title track, it's not hard to imagine Chang doing some headbanging at some point in his life. Chang's impassioned soloing is a breath of fresh air.

That said, the majority of the music on Tongue and Groove is intricate and beautifully crafted, with strong Indian flavors; somewhat like Mahanthappa's recent work. Oddly, the contributions of percussionist Akshay Anatapadmanabhan seem out-of-place, as if they were overdubbed or recorded in a different location. The very dry, close-miked sound of the kanjira and mridangam doesn't mesh well with the spacious sound of Cleaver's drums. This is a minor quibble, however, and doesn't detract from Tongue and Groove's standing as one of the years more auspicious debut recordings.

Track Listing: Spinal Tap / Goes to 11; Djangolongo; Variations for Piano Op. 27; Sleepwalker; Tongue & Groove; Scatterbrain; Bar Codes; The Logos; Entangoed Heart; Spinal Tap (Tk. 2).

Personnel: Tom Chang: guitar; Greg Ward: alto saxophone; Jason Rigby: tenor saxophone; Chris Lightcap: bass; Gerald Cleaver: drums; Akshay Anatapadmanabhan: kanjira, mrindigam; Subash Chandran: konnakol.

Title: Tongue and Groove | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Eleven Cages CD/LP/Track Review Eleven Cages
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Afro-Caribbean Mixtape CD/LP/Track Review Afro-Caribbean Mixtape
by Mark F. Turner
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Wake Up Call CD/LP/Track Review Wake Up Call
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 27, 2017
Read The Late Trane CD/LP/Track Review The Late Trane
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read "You'll Never Know" CD/LP/Track Review You'll Never Know
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 31, 2017
Read "Obfusc/ation" CD/LP/Track Review Obfusc/ation
by Doug Collette
Published: April 18, 2017
Read "Blue And Lonesome" CD/LP/Track Review Blue And Lonesome
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 9, 2016
Read "Acceptance" CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Elegy" CD/LP/Track Review Elegy
by John Kelman
Published: January 20, 2017
Read "Which Craft?" CD/LP/Track Review Which Craft?
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 30, 2016

Smart Advertising!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.