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Tom Chang

Tongue & Groove

Raw Toast Records

It's jazz, but it's got Spinal Tap references and I can't pass up a new interpretation of the hour long Free Form Jazz Improvisation those guys did back at Magic Mountain. This is an extremely complex set of recordings with multiple layers of rhythm, dueling saxophonists (Jason Rigby on tenor, Greg Ward on alto), exotic instruments like kanjira and mridangam (Akshay Anatapadmanabhan) and even some konnakol courtesy of Subash Chandran. (That's a type of Hindi scat singing, and yeah, I had to look it up.)

The Spinal Tap references are rather subtle, and the rest of the collection is similarly complex yet open to easy acceptance, Mr. Chang does not stray that far from the principles of bebop. Short snappy notes spell out fractured rhythms, you can almost sing along except they threw away every prime numbered flat. Titles appear there seem as random as open mike night poetry: "Tongue & Groove" opens with the konnakol then reverts to a dance between the saxophonists with a bass hiding behind the curtain. "Scatter Brain" takes on a blues funk, and then we enter into the lengthy and wandering yet melodic "Bar Codes", here for some reason I envision a sad cartoon cat walking in to a run-down bar with nothing left to live for. He meets someone, and the conversation goes on and on. We calm down for "The Logos" the hectic sounds we've been though relent and we are nearly done. It's an interesting set of tunes and they start to grow on you almost immediately. Almost.

tomchangmusic.com