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When did the ultimate compliment for a jazz performance switch from "you swing, cat" to "you rock, dude"? Perhaps it happened after a generation of jazz artists raised on rock-n-roll found their way into improvisation and the latitudes of expression that jazz enable. Case in point is Tongue And Groove by guitarist Tom Chang.
Raised on the music of Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, and Jimmy Page, his soul was imprinted with their spirit as he applied his guitar sound to the jazz world. Together with saxophonists Greg Ward (Living By Lanterns, Mike Reed) and Jason Rigby (Kris Davis Group, Eivind Opsvik's Overseas), bassist Chris Lightcap (Regina Carter, Matt Wilson, Anthony Braxton), and drummer Gerald Cleaver (Ivo Perelman, Craig Taborn) the guitarist infuses metal bits into his jazz banquet. "Spinal Tap / Goes to 11" is a take-off on the movie spoof that serves from a head-banging trough. Begging, as the title indicates, to be turned up to 11. The track, reprised again at the end of the disc, is anything but obtuse. Like David Fiuczynski or John Scofield, he communicates jazz with a rock accent. There is a bleed through of Led Zeppelin heard on "Bar Codes." But also heard is the influence of Bill Frisell and Jim Hall.
Chang understands jazz is an amalgamation process. The blues are referenced here, and bit of funk show up on "Scatterbrain." He has inherited the universal rhythms of Rudresh Mahanthappa's music, employing South Indian percussive vocalist Subash Chandran on the title track. The music shifts from the East to Anton Webern with "Variations for Piano Op. 27," to accent his jazz band's ability to solve the complexity of classical music in the manner of a Steve Coleman M-BASE composition. Chang's mix is whip-smart and perceptive.
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.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.