Well Behaved Fish opens with Ornette Coleman's "Dancing in Your Head," an upbeat, obstreporous, hard-driving electro-orchestral performance, and a fitting introduction to a plugged-in set of sounds reminscent of some of Miles Davis' mid to late-'70s work. But the Grismore/Scea Group, co-led by guitarist Steve Grismore and multi-reedist Paul Scea, gives the sound more focus and structure than Davis' defiantly amorphous approach.
Like Miles' much maligned On the Corner (Columbia, '72), a set that seems to be getting a critical upgrade of late, the individual instruments on Well Behaved Fish are at times difficult to identify. Wind controller, guitar synth, and amped-up saxophones mingle together, though Scea's flute drifts distinctly at times, wailing into the electro-smear on "Spinach Dip."
"Baghdad" reins in the pace, with floating Middle East string instrument sounds and percussion behind Brent Sandy's tart trumpet. "Crush" showcases a beefy trio rhythmGrismore's intensely blurry guitar lines, Anthony Cox's beefy, seismic bass, and Marc Gratama's heavy rock-like drum work. The closer, "Good God," sounds funkily mainstream, with Grismore wah-wahing behind Scea's searing hot tenor sax solo.
Both leaders teach, Grismore at Augustana College and the University of Iowa, Scea at West Virginia Universitytwo geographical locales that are a long way from the modern jazz meccas. With Well Behaved Fish they prove that the "location, location, location" mantra does't hold a lot of water in terms of making modern and intriguing first-rate jazz sounds.
Track Listing: Dancing in Your Head; Cletus N' Gugu; Bagdad; Spinach Dip; Crush; Introductions; I'm Being
Held Hostage to Your Failure; Well Behaved Fish; Pigs at the Trough; Benevolent
Personnel: Steve Grismore: guitar, guitar synthesizer; Paul Scea: saxes, flute, wind controller; Brent
Sandy: trumpet; Anthony Cox: bass; Marc Gratama: drums, synth drums.
I love jazz because next to my kids, it's the love of my life.
I was first exposed to jazz by Joe Rico from a tiny station in Niagara Falls in 1954 when I was 13.
The best show I ever attended was Maynard Ferguson who blew the roof off Massey Hall in the late 50s.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to everything you can and then listen again.