193

Grismore / Scea Group: Well Behaved Fish

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

Sign in to view read count
The third Accurate release co-led by guitarist Steve Grismore and reedist Paul Scea is tight, tough, exuberant and funky. Their quintet applies the head-solos-head format imaginatively to ten originals and a cover of Ornette Coleman's "Dancing in Your Head (which perhaps takes its child-like wonder a little too much at face value), helped by the fact that the heads and the solos are uniformly excellent.

The compositions are anything but offhand. "Benevolent Psychopathology sounds a little like Monk's "Well You Needn't, taken slightly sideways. The combination of gentle guitar and a slightly eerie trumpet/reed statement of the theme of "I'm Being Held Hostage to Your Failure, meanwhile, invites favorable comparison to the ballads from Paul Motian's recent Garden of Eden (ECM, 2006). The rousing closer, "Good God, seems to be inspired by James Brown. (The title's oblique reference to the Godfather of Soul strengthens my conviction that drummer Marc Gratama is indeed quoting Brown's "Funky Drummer in the fading moments of "Dancing In Your Head. )

Solos are edgy, adventurous, and barely under control—and I mean that as a compliment; frequent bouts of simultaneous soloing (sax and trumpet on the Coleman cover, or flute and trumpet on "Spinach Dip ) are especially exciting. Amidst the improvisational plenty of Well Behaved Fish, it seems caddish to single out particular solos for commendation, but Grismore's guitar-synth playing on "Cletus N'gugu sounds like both a Fender Rhodes and an African thumb piano, and Brent Sandy's Clifford Brown-meets-Cynthia Robinson trumpet on "Good God will stay with me for some time.

The record's improvisational strength is enhanced by the unconventional texture of the group's performance, including some sounds which can be difficult to attribute to a given instrument. Given that no keyboardist is credited in the liner notes, I'm assuming these are down to either Grismore's guitar synth or the afflatus of Scea's mysterious-sounding "wind controller. Taut rhythm adds to the appeal: Gratama's drumming would not sound out of place in a Live/Evil-era Miles Davis performance, although bassist Anthony Cox's playing is considerably more supple than Michael Henderson's work with the early-'70s Davis group.

Immensely likeable, fun and smart, Well Behaved Fish is an argument for adding Iowa City (Grismore's home base and the place where the disc was recorded) to the list of jazz capitals-in-waiting.


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 Psychopathology.

Personnel: Steve Grismore: guitar, guitar synthesizer; Paul Scea: saxes, flute, wind controller; Brent Sandy: trumpet; Anthony Cox: bass; Marc Gratama: drums, synth drums.

Title: Well Behaved Fish | Year Released: 2006


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Signal 9 CD/LP/Track Review Signal 9
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 22, 2017
Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "Live at Barbes: Slavic Soul Party Plays Duke Ellington's Far East Suite" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Barbes: Slavic Soul Party Plays Duke...
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 21, 2017
Read "New Angle" CD/LP/Track Review New Angle
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 13, 2017
Read "Lantern" CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read "Glitter" CD/LP/Track Review Glitter
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 12, 2017
Read "As If By Magic" CD/LP/Track Review As If By Magic
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: December 3, 2016
Read "Calvins Toboggan" CD/LP/Track Review Calvins Toboggan
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 16, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.