Plunge | Dancing on Thin Ice

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Jazz: Crossover Jazz Avant Garde: Structured Improvisation Moods: Instrumental
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Dancing on Thin Ice

by Plunge

This unusual trio dives headlong into the new-groove vortex with sounds steeped in humor and visual suggestion; provocative melodies, engaging grooves, and playful improvisations that resound in memory long after the head-sets come off.
Genre: Jazz: Crossover Jazz
Release Date: 

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Tracks

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1. Friday Night at the Top
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6:48 album only
2. Life of a Cipher
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6:32 album only
3. Orion Rising
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4:30 album only
4. Luminata No. 257
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5:45 album only
5. One Man\'s Machine
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5:57 album only
6. Opium
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5:47 album only
7. Dancing on Thin Ice
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5:12 album only
8. Missing Mozambique
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4:11 album only
9. Jugs March In
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0:58 album only
10. The Praise Singer
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4:07 album only
11. Skickin\' Away
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1:57 album only
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Plunge’s second release. This unusual trio – comprised of three of New Orleans’ preeminent modern jazz players, MARK McGRAIN on trombone, TIM GREEN on saxophones, and JAMES SINGLETON on bass -- is notable for its propulsive, progressive approach, breadth of style and range, melodies that soar across the sonic space and a relentless rhythmic base. The combo roots itself in a blend of traditions that combines the endurance and euphoria of a New Orleans brass band funking its way down the street and the cool, cerebral musings of modernist cross-over groove merchants the likes of Medeski, Martin, and Wood, and Stanton Moore. McGrain’s compositions often resemble the work of contemporary instrumental songsmiths Bill Frisell, and Jenny Scheinman, and at times the electro adventurism of Marco Benevento.

The Artists:
Bassist JAMES SINGLETON is a stalwart of the New Orleans music scene whose performance and recording credits include: Astral Project, Joe Henderson, Milt Jackson, Eddie Harris, Clark Terry, Lightnin' Hopkins, Gatemouth Brown, John Scofield, Dave Liebman, Natalie Cole, Aarron Neville, Branford and Wynton, Marsalis, Lars Edegran, Juanita Brooks, Harry Connick jr, John Cleary, James Booker, Professor Longhair, and others.

Saxophonist TIM GREEN’s performance and recording credits include: Herbie Hancock, Peter Gabriel, Cyril Neville, Robert Walter, Anders Osborne, Russell Batiste, Marshall Allen, Michael Ray and Cosmic Krewe, 3 Now 4, Juanita Brooks, and countless others.

Trombonist/Composer MARK McGRAIN has worked with Cyril Neville, Michael Ray, The Anders Osborne Band, Kirk Joseph’s Backyard Groove, Fredy Omar, and has appearanced with Medeski Martin and Wood, Al Grey and others; composer for PBS, former Berklee College of Music faculty member, and is the author of Music Notation, Hal Leonard Publications.

Standout cuts include the lyrically sumptuous “Opium,” the rich horn voicings and driving bass of “Orion Rising,” the upbeat groove anthem “The Praise Singer,” the reflective lilting jazz waltz “Missing Mozambique,” and the moody, low register romp of “Life of a Cipher.”

Album tracks (stand-outs: 2, 3, 6, 8, & 10):
1. Friday Night at the Top (6:47) – driving bass hi-life styled groove with horn lines interjecting.
2. Life of a Cipher (6:34) – ultra-cool stealth rumba slinking around the low-register.
3. Orion Rising (4:30) – energetic, fast walking bass with rich horn voicings.
4. Luminata No 257 (5:43) – pointillist, expansive motivic improvisation.
5. One Man’s Machine (5:57) – jazz electro-industrial.
6. Opium (5:49) – melodically eloquent, rhythmically deluxe.
7. Dancing on Thin Ice (5:10) – angular, concerted line; wryly whimsical.
8. Missing Mozambique (4:12) – beautiful, reflective ballad, jazz waltz.
9. Jugs March In (:58) – A short, incidental transition passing left to right.
10. The Praise Singer (4:05) – Upbeat jazz anthem – melodic.
11. Skickin’ Away (2:00) – Short and sweet; a light, easy walk-out.


Reviews


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Plunge

Dancing on Thin Ice
Love it! Truly unique -- the freshest thing I've heard in a long time. Favorite tracks: The Praisesinger, Friday Night at the Top and especially Life of a Cipher. Truly modern New Orleans!

Nelson Eubanks

Dancing on Thin Ice - The Sweet Sound
Over the telephone mark was telling me some of his ideas for a new Plunge album; a trio of James Singleton on stand up bass, Tim Green on soprano and bass and tenor saxophone and mark himself - that is Mark Mcgrain on slide trombone playing music he’d been smoothing out since before any whisper of the Storm. He said they were gonna record in the wooden front room of his house – like the acoustic belly of a small schooner ship – complete with resident white haired colonial French poltergeist. And too, they were going to lay the music down in the Kind of Blue method where you read it and feel it and breath it out and Blam that’s your take. I wondered about the drums, the drums; no drums in a Big Easy band, no drums in a driving trio in the African heart beat of America? But then I realized and got excited: you see, nothing but good can come from three Jedis of the groove getting together in an old Creole cottage in the 7th ward of New Orleans to make the beautiful sound.
You see, I knew for a straight fact this was the iteration of Plunge after Falling With Grace slid into the CMJ top 20 for 3 ½ months– and too, that Mark had been mining diamond rhythms from the sea shell streets up in his eagle’s nest way back behind the wood shed for some long while. I also knew Tim Green had been all over the great halls and hallowed juke holes of the world soaking up the sound - playing with heavy musicians making some of the great sonic waves of our time. That he is a genius of the light and one of the best saxophone players in New Orleans. That James Singleton is umbilicaled to the source.
What does a rhythm city in rebirth sound like flowing through improvisational jazz masters who‘ve witnessed to tell the tale? Is it a beautiful wave of sound? Despite the ache? Because of it?
When I got my copy of Dancing On Thin Ice I quickly pushed play and wasn’t disappointed by the burst of fresh melodic ideas. No drums allows Singleton to become the percussive bass beat pulsing through the lower register with lyrical mellow thick slap thumps. No drums and Tim Green plays soft with translucent solos so you can hear his fingers slipping over the sax keys, his breath, his air turning into magic spells. No drums and Mark McGrain drifts and flys and dips and tucks and soars across the sonic space - and I must admit, I’ve found myself listening to solos over and over looking for answers, hearing light, humming the melodies as I wander through my days. To me, Dancing on Thin Ice is an old school, throw back, classic, jazz, album where the secret lays in listening to one song right after the other so you can feel the story shift and change and grow as you grow and shift and change. In these hungry commercial times it’s rare to come across an album with 11 good tracks with range but this is it: the real deal. The sweet sound.